Sandpaper Selection and Grit Guide for Auto Body Work

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Vehicle owners refinish their cars for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, the paint fades and needs a fresh coat. At other times, you want a new color for your vehicle. Sandpaper is one of the items you’ll need to buff out your car as you prepare to paint it. There are many options to choose from, so find out what the experts recommend in this sandpaper selection and grit guide for auto body work.

Automotive Sandpaper: Why Use It?

Automotive sandpaper comes in handy when you need to apply a fresh coat of paint to the car. This is because it can get rid of scratches and other damage to the paint. When most people think of sandpaper, they associate it with smoothing out the surface or removing paint. While this is correct, you can also use the material to get rid of rust.

Additionally, automotive sandpaper comes in various sizes and shapes. Depending on the electric sander you have, you may use pieces that are 9 inches by 12 inches. But other sanders use disks. Before purchasing a pack of sandpaper, you should check which size fits into your sander since this is as important as grit. You can’t effectively sand your entire car by hand.

Experts sand the car’s body before painting it because doing so removes the sealant, paint, and even the primer. The fresh coat of paint will go on smoothly when you remove all this first. And nothing looks better than that!

Avoid Sanding Too Much

Pay close attention to the area you’re sanding and check your work throughout the process. You don’t want to overdo it since that could result in deep scratches or other damage to the vehicle. Prevent this by periodically taking a step back to evaluate your work. Move around and view it from various angles to get a complete look at how things look.

Making Repairs

When removing rust or other forms of surface damage, you can start with a 180 dry grit sandpaper. To ensure a perfect finish, you may have to go over this area with higher grit sandpaper, though. Although dry sanding is best to remove rust, experts recommend wet sanding if you need to correct deep scratches. As you prepare to sand your vehicle, keep the reason you’re doing so in mind. This way, you’ll be able to determine whether to utilize wet or dry sanding.


While preparing to repaint your car, you should also repair any dents and apply auto body filler wherever needed. Many people use automotive body filler to correct areas after fixing a dent since this helps make the car look new once you paint it. After applying body filler and allowing it to cure, you should sand the area to keep it smooth.

Choosing a Sandpaper Grit

Like any other tool, there are all sorts of sandpaper variations to choose from, and each-grit best serves a different task. As you select the right sandpaper for the job, keep in mind that a lower number signifies a coarser material. This means that 40-grit sandpaper is very rough, but 4000-grit sandpaper is incredibly fine.

The grit you need depends on what you plan to do, as removing rust requires a different grit than stripping all the paint from the body of your car. Understanding your options will ensure you always know which one to choose for a perfect finish. Below, our sandpaper selection and grit guide for auto body work will help you choose the best material.

Grits Below 400: Highly Coarse

Any grit below 400 is highly coarse and could leave scratches on your car if you use it for the incorrect task. For example, most people use 40- to 80-grit to remove rust and scratches or shape an area of the vehicle. On the other hand, 320-grit is best to prepare the car for priming.


Sanding your vehicle before painting is essential, as you’ll have to apply a new coat of primer, paint, and sealant. If 320- to 360-grit sandpaper doesn’t do the trick, try using 400-grit.

400- to 600-Grit: Mid-Range

This type of automotive sandpaper will work best if you need to smooth out or remove any imperfections you notice after applying primer. It’s coarse enough to buff out those areas and keep your primer looking smooth without scratching it. Using highly coarse sandpaper—below 400-grit—for this task could lead to scratches which may mean redoing that layer of primer.


Usually, you’ll use 600-grit sandpaper if you finish painting your car and notice a few uneven areas. By using this grit, you can correct the site without worrying about redoing all that hard work you just put into this task.

1000-Grit and Above: Fine to Ultra-Fine

There are a few reasons to use high-grit sandpaper. First, it’s great if you want to remove a small or minor scratch. Also, 1000- to 1200-grit works great when you need to sand areas of new paint to get rid of overspray.

When it comes to 2000-grit, you should mix it with a compound for a wet sanding technique to make the surface look nice and smooth. Many experts also use 2000-grit sandpaper on the clear coat once they wrap up this automotive project.


Sandpapers in this range are best when you need to do a once-over on your newly painted car. But remember to stick to wet sanding at this level. By spraying some water or another compound on the area, you’ll remove those tiny particles as you sand to keep the site clean so that the sandpaper can do its job.

Shop at National Autobody Wholesalers

The best sandpaper grit to use depends on your task since a course material is sometimes best but can ruin the work you spent hours on in other circumstances. Keep this guide in mind as you shop for the ideal material and use it on your car.

Buying quality sandpaper is as vital as selecting the appropriate grit for your task. National Autobody Wholesalers is an automotive sandpaper supplier with various grits available for hobbyists and auto shop owners. Begin your next vehicle DIY project with the best sandpaper so that your car looks incredible.

Sandpaper Selection and Grit Guide for Auto Body Work