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What Sandpaper Do I Need To Paint A Car – Tips and Advice

Are you planning on repainting your car but don’t know what sandpaper to use? The type of sandpaper you use can make a significant difference in the outcome of your paint job. In this article, we will discuss the different types of sandpaper and which one you should use for your car.

What is sandpaper?

Sandpaper is a sheet of paper or cloth with an abrasive material attached to it. The abrasive material is usually made of minerals such as aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, or garnet. Sandpaper comes in different grits, which determine how coarse or fine the abrasive material is.

Different types of sandpaper

  1. Coarse sandpaper (40-60 grit) – Coarse sandpaper is best used for removing rust, paint, or heavy surface imperfections. It is not suitable for smoothing out surfaces.
  2. Medium sandpaper (80-120 grit) – Medium sandpaper is ideal for smoothing out rough surfaces, removing scratches, or preparing surfaces for painting.
  3. Fine sandpaper (150-180 grit) – Fine sandpaper is used for preparing surfaces for painting, removing paint drips, or smoothing out imperfections.
  4. Extra-fine sandpaper (220-400 grit) – Extra-fine sandpaper is used for finishing touches like buffing or polishing.

Sandpaper grits for painting a car

  1. 320 grit sandpaper – 320 grit sandpaper is ideal for preparing a car’s surface for painting. It is perfect for removing any rough spots or imperfections on the surface.
  2. 400 grit sandpaper – 400 grit sandpaper is perfect for smoothing out the surface after using 320 grit sandpaper. It helps to remove any scratches that may be visible.
  3. 600 grit sandpaper – 600 grit sandpaper is used to prepare the surface for painting. It helps to remove any fine scratches or imperfections.
  4. 800 grit sandpaper – 800 grit sandpaper is used to create a smooth surface for painting. It helps to remove any scratches or imperfections left by the previous grits.
  5. 1200 grit sandpaper – 1200 grit sandpaper is used for the final preparation before painting. It helps to create a smooth and even surface for the paint to adhere to.

Tips for using sandpaper

  1. Use a sanding block – Using a sanding block will help you keep the sandpaper flat and even. It will also prevent you from sanding in a circular motion, which can create visible scratches on the surface.
  2. Wear protective gear – Sanding can create dust and debris that can be harmful to your eyes and lungs. Make sure to wear protective gear such as goggles and a mask.
  3. Wet sanding – Wet sanding involves using water to lubricate the surface while sanding. It helps to prevent scratches and keeps the surface cool.
  4. Sand in one direction – Sanding in one direction will help create a uniform finish and prevent visible scratches.
  5. Sand until the surface feels smooth – Keep sanding until the surface feels smooth to the touch. You should not be able to feel any rough spots or imperfections.


Choosing the right sandpaper for your car’s paint job is crucial. Using the wrong grit can result in a poor finish and visible imperfections. Make sure to follow our guide and use the correct grits for each stage of the process. Remember to take your time and sand until the surface feels smooth to the touch.


  1. Can I reuse sandpaper?

    Yes and no. It depends on how much wear and tear the sandpaper has undergone. If the sandpaper is still in good condition, you can reuse it. However, if it is worn out or has become clogged with debris, it is best to dispose of it and use a new one.

  2. Can I use a random orbital sander to sand my car?

    Yes, you can use a random orbital sander to sand your car. However, you need to be careful not to apply too much pressure, which could damage the surface.

  3. Can I sand my car without water?
    You can sand your car without water, but wet sanding is recommended. Wet sanding helps to prevent scratches and keeps the surface cool.

  4. How long does it take to sand a car before painting?

    It depends on the size of the car and the extent of the surface imperfections. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to sand a car before painting.

  5. Do I need to sand my car before painting it?

    Yes, you need to sand your car before painting it. Sanding helps to remove any imperfections on the surface and creates a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.

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