How To Sand Metal

how to sand metal

Are you trying to figure out how to sand metal? Do you need to remove the unwanted or old color from a piece of metal before your next project? Well, you have come to the right place if you are in such a situation.
Through proper sanding, you can give a piece of metal a smooth and even look. Contrary to what you may think, sanding metal is a simple and straightforward task. Well, let's get started on this transformative journey.

How To Sand Metal

Understand that you can use different tools and equipment to sand metal. However, the commonly used tool is the electric sander because it is fast and effective. You can also manually sand the piece of metal or use a sanding block.

Understand that you have a lot of different options when it comes to sanding metal. However, using electric sanders will make the task relatively easy and fast. Note that manual sanding is rather labor-intensive and counterproductive when working on large projects.

Electric sanders are popular due to their speed and versatility. Note that the electric sanders will also get you a smooth and professional finish. The good news is that these devices are quite affordable and offer long-lasting services. 

Using an Electric Sander

First, you should never use the same sanding disk throughout the entire sanding process. If you are looking for a smooth and even finish, you need to use different sanding disks during the project. you will start with the coarse sanding disk to help you remove spots and dents from the piece of metal.
Use an 80-grit sanding disk to quickly get rid of the top layers of scratches and paint on the piece of metal. However, you need to sand slowly to avoid damaging the metal. Note that the electric sanders are pretty powerful and could weaken the surface of the metal.

Immediately you remove the top layers of paint, you have to switch to a different sanding disk. For my metal projects, I normally shift to the 200-grit sanding disk which is much smoother. Note that this sanding disk will not east up the metal surface. You can, therefore, get a smooth and consistent finish when working with the 200-grit sanding disk.

However, note that you will need to manually sand spaces that aren’t as smooth as the other parts. Note that the procedure for sanding such spaces is the same as using an electric sander, only that you will be using your hands. Start with the 80-grit sandpaper and slowly move on to the smooth 200-grit sanding paper. Be careful when dealing with these spots because they could be easily damaged.

Once you are finished, the entire surface of the metal should be clean and even. However, you could always use a steel wool ball to get an even smoother surface. Rub the piece of steel wool in circular motions until the entire surface looks clean and polished.

Using Sandpaper

Although an electric sander is the best choice when you need a smooth and consistent finish, it is not the only choice. You can always use the old-fashioned sandpaper to get the job done just as effectively. As mentioned earlier, the process will be pretty tiresome. If you are working on large surfaces, using sandpaper will take a lot of time.

Start with 80-grit sandpaper and work in circular motions until all the previous layers of paint are removed. Once you have removed all the scratches and top paint layers, you can proceed to use 200-grit sandpaper.

Ensure you work in a consistent circular motion during the entire process. You can also take rest breaks to ensure you give yourself enough time to recover. When using sandpaper, you have to exercise patience during the entire process.

Things to consider When Sanding Metal

Use the Right Type of Sanding Paper

Did you know that the type of sandpaper you use will determine the efficiency of the project? understand that different sandpapers come with varying coarseness to suit particular projects. This makes it essential to find the right type of sanding paper for your project.

Emery, for example, works incredibly well with both power and hand sanding. You will get a good quality finish when using either your hand or a power tool if you choose to work with emery. You could also go for silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, or Zirconia alumina depending on the type of project.

Note that certain sandpapers will heat up pretty quickly when used with the power sanders. You will, therefore, find yourself working with a lot of sanding paper that might not be cost-efficient. Understand that a material that quickly heats up will also mean that you have to take several breaks. You will, therefore, take a lot of time to complete a project.

Zirconia alumina is a great choice if you need a material that lasts longer and maintains its sharp edges after continued use. You will not have to take any rest breaks and you will use less material during the entire process.

Know the Grit Numbers

For starters, understand that grit numbers that fall between 36-100 are ideal for removing layers of paint from a surface. They are also quite effective when used with power sanders, which means that you need to work carefully and slowly. 

The numbers that fall between 100 to 180, on the other hand, are ideal when you need to smooth work pieces. You will get a consistent surface every time you use such sandpapers for your wood or metal project.

Higher grit numbers that usually fall between 180 and 320 will guarantee a scratch-free finish. Notice that these sandpapers are usually ideal for high-polish projects. Understand that the sandpaper will get smother the higher you go up.

Did you know that there are up to 2000-grit sandpapers in the market? Note that the 200o-grit sandpaper is used to get those mirror-like finishes. You have probably come across such surfaces when walking around.

Wet Sanding Before Painting

Consider one final bluff on your piece of metal using wet sandpaper before painting. Doing this will get you a smooth and professional finish. Note that using the wet sandpaper for a final bluff is mostly done on cars to get you that shiny look.

It would also help if you treated metal surfaces such as steel and iron before using them outdoors. Understand that treatment before painting will ensure you get long-lasting use from the pieces of metal. Understand that having to sand down metal every few months might be rather counter-productive. The treatment process is rather simple and only takes a couple of minutes.

Final words

Learning how to sand metal can sound like a lot of work at first. However, using our detailed guide you can quickly get started working on your next project. However, ensure you invest in a high-quality electric sander to get a smooth and even finish. Note that you can always use manual sanding or a sanding block if you intend to work on a single project. 

Finally, ensure you use the right sandpaper grit for a particular project. Understand that you have to be very careful when working with low-grit sandpapers. You don’t want to end up ruining the entire project immediately you start.

About the Author Louis

Louis is a DIY enthusiast, blogger and ecommerce entrepreneur. She created this website with an intention to reach out people and guide them to make best choices to deliver free extensive DIY home-improvement content.

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