How to Use Wet Sandpaper? [Know 7 Easy Steps from an Expert]

Wet sanding is preferred because it gives soft and even finishes. If you apply the right amount of water and time to wet sandpaper, it will level out a surface and diminish abrasions. There will be no longer be a noticeable scratch mark after polishing.

Most sandpaper has wide grits that allow a smoother surface, but finer grits are used to remove layers of material. Aluminum oxide and silicon carbide papers are both commonly referred to as fine grit wet sandpaper.

The use of wet sandpaper is part of a coating application procedure performed before each succeeding finish, sealant, or polyurethane coat, where wet sandpaper grades are used to eliminate surface imperfections between each coat. Keep reading to know about how to use wet sandpaper.

Related: Wet Sanding vs Dry Sanding: Know the Pros and Cons

Table of Contents

  • What Is Wet Sandpaper?
  • Wet vs Dry Sandpaper
  • What Is The Purpose of Wet Sanding?
  • Tools and Materials need for wet sanding
  • Using Wet Sandpaper (Step by Step Guide)
  • Wet Sandpaper Grit Chart
  • Is Wet Sanding Better Than Dry Sanding?
  • Can You Use Regular Sandpaper For Wet Sanding?

What Is Wet Sandpaper?

Wet sanding is a technique where sandpaper is prepared with water before use. The water is like a lube, which is good because it contains a large amount of dirt and debris and uses it to eliminate the fine particles to prevent excessive wear and tear on the sandpaper. Wet sandpaper is abrasive backed sandpaper that gets the finish wet before use.

It is possible to use water, cleaning agents, or sandpaper wet or dry for polishing. The cloth can use wet or dry sandpaper for polishing, depending on the surface. Lubricants, such as water or mineral spirits, make sandpaper more effective and last longer when applied wet.

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Wet vs Dry Sandpaper

Silicon carbide is typical for wet-type sandpaper, while craft paper is standard for dry. On the other hand, the high-end is most likely a form of wet sandpaper, as its substrate is most commonly made of paper. Wet sandpaper’s physical characteristics include greater flexibility and increased sand particle adhesion, resulting in a more even surface and superior polishing ability.

The distance between sand grains of this abrasive wet sandpaper is small, and therefore, there is lots of chisel material in between the sheets. Used with sweat, the wet sandpaper grades will wear away and stay the same.

Dry sandpaper is also describing the material. Dry sandpaper has a greater distance between grains and therefore produces more debris than wet. Due to the wide clearance, trash would be shed naturally by itself by use, so water should not be applied. Dry sandpaper typically consists of good-grade silicon carbide, and latex-based paper also provides better stability and good heat dissipation, so it is not prone to jamming.

Dry sandpaper is used in numerous industries, such as wood processing, stone, synthetic material, and other general processing, and precision die grinding.

Related: How to Wet Sand Plastic with 7 Easy Steps?

What Is The Purpose of Wet Sanding?

To get rid of or lessen an unwanted color, you often have to wet the surface before you apply new paint. A rapid and certain method is possible if you are competent and meticulous.

During wet-sanding, you remove a tiny amount of the clear coating to get the crack up to the surface. This is how to get rid of those scuffs and scratches made by other vehicles as well. Candy polish is also used in body repair and is called a ‘run-in’ and ‘dirt trapped’ in the finish, but is often used to help give an even coat and flatten out runs in vehicles. It is common to use water-soaked sandpaper instead of dry.

Related: How to Wet Sand A Car? Crack the Secrets!

Tools and Materials need for wet sanding

  • Grit sandpaper
  • Bucket of water
  • Soap
  • Hose
  • Polishing compound
  • Soft clothes
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Backing pads

Using Wet Sandpaper (Step by Step Guide)

Step 1: Apply the First Coat

No matter what finish you use, apply a clear finish to protect it. Adding extra resin to produce high-opacity products results in a clearer, semi-smooth, or slick finish than the satin or gloss products. Let the product sit at room temperature for the recommended drying time.

Wet Sanding Clear Coat: How Long to Wait before Wet Sanding Clear Coat?

Step 2: Add Soap

Pour a small tray of water into a dish with a close to the 1/2-inch thickness of water. Add two drops of dish soap to the liquid and gently mix them.

Step 3: Sand with 500 Grit wet sandpaper

Attach a 500-grit sandpaper strip to a hand sanding sponge for rough surfaces. The hard sanding block would have the most significant utility. Soak the stone in the solution of soap and water. Let the woodblock remain submerged in the water so that it remains wet.

Step 4: Dry and Examine

Periodically dry the wood’s surface to make sure it is clean. When the color is even all over the board, use a damp cloth to remove any excess polish.

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Step 5: Apply Second Coat of Finish

Do a second coat, and let it dry overnight. Then you can wipe and sand for a second time. Enable the solution to dry for at least four days between coats and allow each coat to dry completely before moving on to the next. The absence of moisture is crucial.

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Step 6: Sand with Fine Grit wet sandpaper

Sand with 1000-grit sandpaper. Continue with the previous method. If the surface is shiny, go in with a second-course sandpaper grit of 1500, and dip and polish. Remove any sanding residue, and apply 2000-grit sandpaper to the piece to finish. Brush it off gently.

Related: 44 Creative Sanding Tips You Need to Know

Step 7: Polish

It can be polished to a wood-like sheen finish with carpenters’ paste or automotive wax.

Wet Sandpaper Grit Chart

By following the below wet sandpaper grit chart you will be able to select the right grit-sandpaper for various uses.


Grit Size

Used For


100 or 120

Preparing timber for polishing and cleaning the muck plaster before using it in the finishing stages

Very Fine

150, 180 or 220

Sanding on bare wood

Very Fine


For wet sanding finishes between consecutive coats and drywall and wood

Extra Fine

360 or 320

Initiative methods for wood polishing

Super Fine

400, 500 or 600

For final wood finishing

Ultra Fine

800 or 1000

Final sanding and polishing thick finishes

Is Wet Sanding Better Than Dry Sanding?

Wet sanding removes more of the built-up layers of dust than dry sanding. When a high-end painter starts to paint, he or she first applies a layer of a water-based sealant as a wet-sanding aid. it’s preferable to dry sanding while doing work inside because it reduces a significant amount of dust in the process.

After being wet-sanded, the dust from sanding doesn’t get into the paint. It lasts a long time when you use it wet, but you must keep applying water to the sandpaper. Alternatively, wet sanding takes more time: you can dry it first.

Can You Use Regular Sandpaper For Wet Sanding?

Firm, medium, or coarse grit would be effective for all types of sanding; you have to use separate sandpaper for wet sanding application. Sandpaper for wet sanding is very different from ordinary sandpaper. Dry or wet sandpaper is available in hardware stores. You can be folding the paper doubles its thickness, but one can just as easily use a thicker backing pad. Directly attached sanding is particularly useful because it makes the abrasive easier to contact the surface.

Related: Sandpaper Types and Abrasives (Choosing Right Sandpaper for Your Project)

Final Words

Wet sanding is a very effective type of sanding that provides smooth and lucrative finishes. Wet sanding sandpaper is generally very effective before painting or furnishing. It smoothens the rough surfaces properly. It is recommended that one not use wet sandpaper on wet paint. It is often found in body shops, located in woodworking shops, where only the most translucent finishes are applied.


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