Tools & Workshop

Proper Sanding Techniques


While there are many different products you can use to sand (a palm sander, a block, or sand­ing with paper in hand), the process is basically the same for all of them. Follow these steps, no matter the tool and you can sand like a pro.

Prepare the Surface First. Remove all tape or staples from the surface to be sanded. If necessary, scrape off blobs of plaster, paper, or flooring residue, glue, or any other material. Set all nails beneath the surface; one nail or staple can tear and ruin a fresh piece of sandpaper instantly.

Sand in Sequence. In smooth­ing a rough surface, you will need to use a sequence of two or three sandpapers, moving from coarse to fine. A medium-coarse paper of 80 to 100 grit might be an appro­priate starting point for most sanding projects, followed by a finer paper in the 120 to 180 range to smooth the surface to the touch.

Protect Yourself. If you’re sanding old paint or plaster or sanding a great deal of any­thing, wear a mask or respirator. Some sanding dust is toxic; even when it isn’t, inhaling the dust is a choking, unpleasant sensa­tion and potentially damaging to your lungs. Wet/dry sandpaper is an option, too, for limiting the amount of dust generated.

Clean the paper periodically. It will clog with dust, reducing its efficiency. Simply tapping the paper will cause most of the dust to fall free of the paper’s surface. That way, you can ensure all the elbow grease you used is actually making a difference on the surface.

By Bob Vila

Bob Vila

You probably know me from TV, where for nearly 30 years I hosted a variety of shows—This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, Bob Vila, and Restore America with Bob Vila. (You can now watch my full TV episodes online!) But I’ve spent my career helping people upgrade their homes and improve their lives.
Before my life in broadcasting, I launched my own residential remodeling and design business. Earlier still, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer, building houses and communities in Panama. I learned first-hand about home building from my father, who hand-built our family home. I’ve written 12 books about remodeling your home, buying your dream home, and visiting historic homes across America. It’s fair to say that buildings, especially homes, are my life’s work.
Over the years I've also supported many causes dealing with housing and architectural preservation. I've been actively involved with Habitat for Humanity and helped them blitz build a house in Yonkers, NY, which we put on TV. I worked for years with the National Alliance to End Homelessness, supporting the work of many organizations throughout the country. In the last several years I've been helping out with the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s home and collections at Finca Vigía near Havana, Cuba. This place was his home from 1939 until his death and he left it to the Cuban people to be run as a museum. This project has allowed me to visit my parents' homeland several times.
Now it's this website that I am passionate about and the chance to share my projects, discoveries, tips, advice, and experiences with all of you. I’ve always believed that a little sweat equity goes a long way toward making a house a home, and that's exactly what my website helps homeowners do.
You can connect with me on my own site and on Twitter. I look forward to the conversation and to getting to know you.

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