What Grit Sandpaper to Use for Cabinets?


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DIY home projects, like new cabinets, can be a lot of fun and transform the look of your home. But like any other project, using the right tools for the job is crucial to a high-quality finished product.

Sandpaper is one of the necessary tools for nearly any cabinet project. So, what sandpaper is best for your cabinets? Read on for everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

Which Grit Sandpaper Works Best for Cabinets?

The best sandpaper grit for cabinets will depend on the project. For most projects, you can rough up the surface with 100 to 150 grit sandpaper and finish with 220 grit. More delicate projects that need a smoother finish will require a higher sandpaper grit.

Sandpaper Grit Explained

You’re not alone if you don’t quite understand the levels of sandpaper grit. However, knowing the difference between grits will allow you to select the right options for your DIY project.

Sandpaper grit is a rating for how abrasive the sandpaper is. The higher the grit, the finer the abrasive and smoother surface finish. Lower grit options are more coarse and abrasive, allowing you to easily scrape off materials, paints, and finishes. There are two main types of sandpaper options: macro and micro. Let’s break down the specifics.

Macro Grit Sandpaper

Macro grit sandpapers have lower grit ratings. They’re more abrasive and range from medium to coarse textures. These types of sandpaper are often used on tougher wood and metals. They allow you to easily rough up materials, paints, and finishes. Here are some specifications to give you a better idea:

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Extra Coarse: Removes most materials and is commonly used in the beginning sanding of hardwood floors. Ranges from 24, 30, or 36.

Coarse: Removes most materials and is typically used to remove debris or finishes with little effort. Ranges from 40, 50, or 60.

Medium: Provides a coarse texture after sanding and is used to prepare bare wood for removing varnish. Comes in 80 grit.

Fine: Cannot usually remove wood varnish or paint. Fine sandpaper is commonly used to remove stains and prepare wood for finishes. Ranges from 100 or 120.

Very Fine: Coarser than micro options and is typically used for sanding bare wood. Ranges from 150, 180, and 220.

Micro Grit Sandpaper

Micro grit sandpapers have higher grit ratings. They’re less abrasive and range from very fine to ultra-fine textures. Micro grit options are commonly used for finishes, smoothing surfaces, fine details, and drywall. Here are some more specifications to give you a better idea:

Very Fine: The least fine option of micro grit sandpapers. Best suited for sanding in between coats, finishes, and drywall. Comes in 240 grit.

Extra Fine: Slight less abrasive than super fine-grit sandpaper. Used for wood polishing. Ranges from 320 and 360.

Super Fine: Not strong enough for removal, typically used for final wood polishing. Ranges from 400, 500, and 600.

Ultra Fine: The most delicate sandpaper option. Used for final sanding and polishing thicker coats. Ranges from 800 or 1,000.

What’s the Best Sandpaper for My Project?

It’s crucial to choose the right tool for the right job. You’ll need a different sandpaper grit depending on your cabinet project. For roughing up surfaces, you might need a more abrasive macro grit sandpaper. Smoother micro grit sandpaper works better for final finishes and sanding between coats. Here are some tips for your cabinet project.

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Prepare Your Cabinets

It’s important to prepare your cabinets and the surface, regardless of the project. Preparing the surface helps the paint adhere and removes any stains.

Start by cleaning and drying the surface of your wooden cabinets. You can use a grease remover, a sponge, or a rage to remove any grime. Let the cabinets completely dry afterward.

Once your cabinets are clean and dry, you can begin sanding. Use 100 to 150 grit sandpaper to rough up the wooden surface. This will help your paint and primer adhere better. After sanding, wipe off any dust or debris with a damp rag and let it dry completely.

Sand the Primer

You’ll most likely use a primer If you’re painting over wooden cabinets. After the primer has dried completely, use a very fine 220 grit sandpaper to gently sand all the surfaces. Focus on any areas with drips of paint or other blemishes. The smother you can get your primer layer, the easier the paint will adhere. You can wipe away any dust or debris with a damp cloth.

Sand after Painting

You should also use a very fine 220 grit sandpaper after painting or in between coats. Doing so will give your cabinets a smoother and more polished look. Be sure to allow the paint enough time to completely dry before sanding. As always, you can wipe away any dust or debris with a damp rag.

Take Your Time

Be sure to take your time on your cabinet project. Practicing patience and doing an extensive job will result in a better-finished project. You can use sandpaper instead of a sanding block to access any nooks and crannies. You may also want to use an orbital sander for a more comprehensive job.

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Which Sandpaper Grit Should I Use for Cabinets?

Depending on the project, 100 to 150 grit sandpaper can work well for roughing up the surface. Roughing up and preparing your wooden cabinets gives the paint and primer an easier time adhering to the surface. You should also use a very fine 220 grit sandpaper on the primer layer and in between layers of paint. Doing so will give you a smoother finish and a more polished look.

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