Renos & DIY

How to: Sandpaper Basics

By Robyn Burnett

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How to: Sandpaper Basics

Just about everyone has had an experience with sandpaper at some point in their lives. But how do you establish what sandpaper to use when? What is the proper method when it comes to this useful item? Here are the basics on sandpaper.

1. The purpose is the surface.
Sandpaper is designed to create a smooth surface to work on. The rougher the surface, the coarser the sandpaper. As it begins to grow smooth, you’ll start to use finer sandpaper.

2. Sandpaper comes in grades.
The grades range from coarse to fine; the higher the grade, the finer the paper. For example, 30 to 60 grade sandpaper would be used if you needed to sand two very uneven surfaces to get them level. When they begin to smooth out, then you would increase your grade to 80 or 120. When sanding drywall, you might consider 150 grade sandpaper. A high grade such as 220 would be used on a dry varnished or urethane treated surface in order to smooth out air bubbles between coats.

3. Go with the grain.
When working with wood products, always sand with the grain rather than against it. Sanding against the grain results in scratching that will show up when you apply finish to the wood. If working with corners, such as in a doorway, sand up to the corner on the vertical, then across to the corner on the horizontal.

4. Check out the tools.
There are various sanding tools available to help in the process. For larger jobs, an electric sander can be a lifesaver. For smaller jobs, there are hand-held versions where you attach the paper to the bottom and grip on the handle to sand. For rounded edges, simply folding the paper and sanding by hand is your best bet as you’ll need the flexibility. There are also ready made “sanding blocks” around the size of a small dish sponge that you can consider.

5. Other sanding tips.
Depending on the degree of sanding you are doing, a face mask and goggles are definitely recommended. If you are redoing your baseboards or windows, remember to prime the sanded areas before putting on a new coat of paint. Also, make sure that the surface you are sanding is completely dry. If sanding an independent object such as a table, put a drop sheet underneath to collect the dust. If sanding for long periods by hand, switch arms periodically.

As always, if you are unsure of what sort of paper you should be using for your project, or you are looking for more tips, ask someone at your local hardware store for advice.

Topics: How-To, Tools, Renovating, Wood, Saftey, Renos & DIY

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