How to Use Wet/Dry Sandpaper

Written by michelle keefe
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How to Use Wet/Dry Sandpaper
Sanding with wet sandpaper achieves different results than dry sandpaper. (sandpapier image by Thomas Aumann from

Wet/dry sandpaper is specially formed, versatile sandpaper. Using wet sandpaper after applying a paint, lacquer or varnish will give the project a glasslike finish and smooth appearance. Use dry sandpaper to remove the finish, paint or lacquer from a surface and smooth its imperfections. Wet/dry sandpaper has a specially formulated waterproof backing that can resist breaking down when used in a wet application.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Bowl of water

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    Wet Sanding

  1. 1

    Dip the wet sandpaper into a bowl of water and thoroughly wet the sandpaper.

  2. 2

    Sand the wood with the wet sandpaper, sanding with the grain of the wood. Use long and steady strokes as you work.

  3. 3

    Re-wet the sandpaper by dipping it back into the bowl of water throughout the sanding process. Don't allow the sandpaper to dry while sanding over the finish, or the sandpaper may remove the finish instead of smoothing it.

    Dry Sanding

  1. 1

    Place dry sandpaper onto dry wood and sand with the wood's grain.

  2. 2

    Stop after making several strokes with the sandpaper to wipe or brush away the sanding dust.

  3. 3

    Continue to sand the wood with the dry sandpaper until the piece has a smooth and even finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't wet-sand bare wood. Wet sanding is performed between coats of a finish such as paint or lacquer to smooth the finish of the wood project.
  • Never sand against the grain of wood.

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