Sanding metal doesn’t have to be a difficult task, but without the right tools it can be hard work, even painful!
Take the time to discover the key features of the best sandpaper for metals, so you can achieve top quality results- easier.
You will be proud of your work and your skilled workmanship will shine through.
If you're sat wondering,
What is the best sandpaper to use on metal? Then stick with me, as I review the best sandpapers for you.
When making your choice, it is important to consider; the grit grade, the type of grain and material it’s made from, the quality of the paper and the adhesive used, especially when working with metal.
By understanding these features, you can make sure you pick the right sandpaper for your metalwork needs.
The right choice will make a hard task easier.Whether you are using hard or soft metals, a sanding block or an electric sander- the following article can help you:
7 Best sandpaper for metal Reviews
1. 3M Wetordry Sandpaper 1500 Grit - Best for metal sanding
3M, a well-recognised brand, give us an excellent option for our DIY needs.
Grit options of 220-2000 grit, means you are covered for any job.
Whether that’s removing rust or polishing metal 3M has what you need.
Value for money:
5 large sheets give incredible value for money because don’t forget you can cut them down to the size you need.
Even better use this product by hand or with electric sanding equipment.
Wet and dry use:
This product can be used wet or dry.
Most metals when sanded get hot, so it's always good to have the wet option.
The waterproof backing will also help it last longer and not break up.
This combined with the silicon carbide abrasive extends the product life even more.
It gets better,
Wet or dry products, save you time. You won’t have to switch products instead you can use the same sandpaper for your whole project.
No-one wants rigid sandpaper. It’s not easy to use and can make jobs more difficult.
3M boasts flexible cancelling out that worry for us.
2. Miady Assorted Grit Sandpaper - Best for multi-purpose sanding
If you need sandpaper for different projects, then this multipurpose sanding paper will be perfect.
Grit grades from 120-3000 mean that you can even polish and buff metals.
Big range of grit grades:
You can complete all sanding tasks with such a range of different grades.
This product provides three sheets of each grade available, that’s 36 sheets. Not bad!
To help you pick the right grade for the task in hand, each sheet has the grade printed on the back.
A 3000 grit grade, is ideal for achieving the highest polish standard on metal.
Wet and dry use:
This product is for use wet or dry condition.
Some users report that this sandpaper is brittle and when folded, it cracks.
This will make it difficult to use, especially if folding around a sanding block.
3. 3M 9005NA Aluminium Oxide Sandpaper - Best budget
3M are spoiling us with another first-class option.
You get 3 different grit grades per pack and this product is advertised to help you with all your marine tasks.
Coarse grit grades:
With grit grades from 100-220, this is not recommended for buffing or polishing metals.
But ok if you need to coarsely remove rust or strip down paint.
Durable grain - Aluminum oxide:
This sandpaper is made from aluminium oxide.
It is durable and reasonably priced for the 5 sheets.
Aluminium oxide works well on harder metals such as titanium or stainless steel but won’t last as long, limiting its shelf life.
Dry use only:
This product should only be used dry, either by hand or with an electric sander.
So, you would need to buy another type if you needed to use it for wet sanding.
Some users have reported that the paper is quite thin, so doesn’t stand the test of time for more challenging tasks.
4. 3M Wetordry Sandpaper 1000 Grit - Best for wet or dry sanding
A highly reviewed product that is best used with water or cutting oil to reduce clogging so you can use it longer.
A great feature is a waterproof backing, particularly as most metal sanding requires moisture to keep the surface cool.
Durable grain-Silicon carbide
This one grit grade sandpaper is made from silicon carbide.
This is a harder grain compared to other options and it will have no problem sanding metal with little effort.
However, Silicon carbide can be brittle, so depending on your task it can wear quickly.
Only one grit grade per product:
With only one grade this product will not allow you to carry out a range of sanding tasks.
If you want to polish or buff metal, for example, you would need a higher grade.
5. 3M 9000NA Sandpaper Aluminium oxide
A coarse 60 grit grade option, that you can use on your metal surface with either a block or with an electric sander.
Multiple grit grades:
Such a low grit grade is only suitable for rough metalwork, the grade would not be suitable for a pristine polish.
You receive 5 sheets with this product and it's helpful to know that it also performs well on wood.
You can buy this product in other options, ranging from coarse to very fine.
Remember to check each option's grit grade to suit your metal sanding needs.
For the fine polishing of metalwork, a higher grit grade would be recommended.
Good for painting:
Positive reviews from users, when they choose this product to sand down metal surfaces before painting.
Harder metals would be more of a challenge, as the aluminum oxide is not as sharp as other grain materials.
6. Dura-Gold Premium Longboard Continuous Roll - Best for Automotive and metalworking
A unique continuous roll design means this premium sandpaper can be easily stored and cut to different lengths.
Hardwearing Zirconia grain:
A well-reviewed product that boasts excellent use on metalwork, especially cars.
Because the durable paper is infused with zirconia alumina, it works great even on hard metals.
The sandpaper has an adhesive back that will help you keep it in place.
But what’s more, it boasts a clean removal without leaving any sticky residue.
Unfortunately, some users did find it a challenge to remove the sandpaper from their electric sanders- so be warned.
Unique roll design:
This product comes in a variety of options from 10 to 20-yard rolls, with a range of grit grades from 60-1000.
A drawback of this design is that you only get one grade per roll.
Unlike other products that contain loose sheets with different grades, this does not.
So, if you only need a single grade this might be a good option, but if you need a variety of grades this may be costly.
And remember most sanding work does require a few different grit grades to achieve the best results.
7. VERONES 90 Pcs 400 to 3000 Grit Assortment Sandpaper
If you have a big job to do and need a wide range of grit grades, then this product might interest you.
Big range of grit grades:
90 sheets of sandpaper ranging from 400 to an impressive 3000 grit. Such as range will cover any metalwork task you might need to sand, polish or buff.
You get 20 sheets of each of the 9 grit grades, impressed?
I am, and thankfully each sheet has its grit grade printed on the back, so you never have to worry about using the wrong one.
Use wet or dry:
This product can be used wet or dry and claims to be durable even when wet.
The backing paper is waterproof and made from robust silicon carbide.
An excellent feature for your metalwork needs.
Verones claim this product is suitable for all surfaces, from wood to metals.
It comes in sheets that can be easily cut down to the size you need, making it more user friendly and saves waste.
All you need to know before buying sandpaper:
Are there types of sandpaper?
Yes, there are different types of sandpaper:
What’s it made from?
The most common types of sandpaper are made from silicon carbide or aluminum oxide.
They are both versatile, affordable and perform well on most materials, especially metal.
Silicon carbide has harder grains that make it easy to sand harder materials but can often wear down quickly.
If you are working with hard metals such as titanium or stainless steel then other types may be better for you, like zirconia or ceramic.
But these are more expensive.
Does the grit grade matter?
Yes, one of the most important differences in sandpaper is the grit grade.
The grade for the sandpaper is decided based on the number of abrasive particles found per inch.
The fewer the particles, the lower the grade and the coarser the paper.
Commonly grades are as follows:
- 60–80 (coarse)- For heavy sanding and stripping
- 100–150 (medium)- For removing small imperfections
- 180–220 (fine)- For smoothing surfaces
- 320 and up (ultra-fine)- For smoothing, polishing and buffing surfaces
To achieve the best results, you should work your way through the grades.
So, start with a coarse, low grade and move up the grades. As each grade should help buff out any scratches made from the grade before. This technique will help you achieve a high-quality, smooth finish.
You might be tempted to rush a sanding project, but this will have an impact on the standard of finish you achieve. If you use a coarse grade and then jump to an ultra-fine grade, it will be much more challenging to achieve a smooth finish.
Also, others might only use ultra-fine sandpaper, this will take longer and will waste your money as ultra-fine sandpaper sheets are not designed to work on very uneven, rough surfaces.
Let’s face it, we all love smooth results, but sanding can be boring and timely, so the quicker we can get it done the better.
So, use the right grade at the right time.
Commercial vs industrial:
Often industrial sandpaper is a higher quality and more durable.
Because of the quality of the three main components (backing paper, the grit, and the adhesive used to secure the grit), industrial will often be more hardwearing.
It can be difficult to find but some hardware stores and online retailers may stock it.
Open vs closed:
Open coat sandpaper means that the grit is spread out and the sandpaper has lots of space in between the grit. This is useful for softer materials such as aluminium and some wood. It will help prevent you from damaging the delicate surface.
Closed coat sandpaper is the opposite, 100% of the paper will be covered in grain. The more grain the better the paper will be for quickly and aggressively cutting through materials, particularly harder materials like metals.
Most sandpaper is closed coat, so make sure you check what you need before starting.
What grit sandpaper should I use for metal?
Silicon carbide and aluminium oxide sandpaper are both good choices for metals, as the hard grains stand up to most materials.
Aluminium oxide is good for hard metals, especially if it is closed coat. If your project involves hard metals such as titanium a better option could be zirconia or ceramic- the stronger grain would last longer on a harder sanding challenge.
If you are working on a softer metal like aluminium then an open coat could be more suitable, an aggressive closed coat option might cause permanent damage to the surface- which you don’t want.
So it’s important when working with metal that you know what you're doing. Using the wrong sandpaper can permanently damage your work. Coarse sandpaper can scratch metal and no polishing or buffing can hide that kind of damage.
For metal it is suggested that you use very fine grit grades, no less than 600 to start, gradually increasing to 2500+. This helps avoid any big, deep scratches.
When sanding metal, the metal can get hot, so use water to help cool the surface.
Sandpaper that works when wet is better, otherwise non-waterproof sandpaper will lead to a soggy mess. No one wants soggy sandpaper.
The moisture helps prevent dust, but you will need to keep a cloth handy to wipe down the metal surface as slurry can clog up the paper.
So, there are lots of options to think about depending on your metal project needs.
The grit grade- ideally 600+ for metal, the type of grain you need and whether that’s open coat or closed coat.
But also, what type of sandpaper grain is going to give you the best results as well as value for money.
Some products provide you with multiple grit grades per pack, others provide only one grade.
Think about the types of grades you need and how much.
Buying rolls of sandpaper might be expensive if you only need a small bit.
But if you need a lot of one type then a roll would be ideal, as it would save you buying lots of multiple backs.
Both aluminium oxide and silicon carbide provide excellent sanding power and value, so whatever metal your working on, review your options to select the best tool for the job.