Sandpaper vs Emery Cloth: Differences & Uses


What’s the Difference Between Sandpaper and Emery Cloth?

In the 1830s, William Dooley published Minerals and Metals: Their Natural History and Uses in the Arts. Both Emery cloth and sandpaper are very effective for polishing metals and wood.

Although Emery paper is the most common type of sandpaper, there are alternatives. A good alternative is sandpaper made of wood shavings.

Emery cloth grits

Emery cloth is made up of varying grits. It’s rougher than sandpaper because the grit size is smaller.

For fine finishing, Emery cloth with grit 120 is used. The grit number refers to the number of abrasive particles per inch. The higher the abrasive density, the rougher the surface will be.

What is Sandpaper used for?

Sandpaper is commonly used for smoothing wood and metal surfaces, while Emery cloth is designed for roughing plastic pipes. The grit size of sandpaper is generally higher than that of Emery cloth.

But Emery cloth is more expensive than sandpaper and Emery is more expensive. A high-quality Emery cloth will last longer than the price of a typical sheet of sandpaper.

Whether you’re looking for a fine polish, a perfect finish, or a smooth, dead-smooth surface, Emery cloth is your best friend. These abrasives are made to meet high standards, but a good quality Emery cloth can withstand a lot of use.

Although the two materials may look similar, they’re not the same. Emery cloth uses less friction than sandpaper. While sandpaper is often used to finish work, Emery cloth is used to smooth the final layer of paint.  

Sandpaper vs Emery cloth: Which is more durable?

Although sandpaper is more popular in DIY and professional applications, Emery cloth is more durable than sandpaper.

It can also be used to smooth out metal and wood surfaces to achieve a fine finish.

Emery cloth contains iron, which can ruin the natural wood. For this reason, Emery cloth isn’t recommended for use on wood.

A great sandpaper alternative

Emery cloth is a great alternative to sandpaper. It is much more durable than sandpaper and is a better choice if you want to repair a metal surface.

It also comes in assorted grits and backings. In addition, Emery cloth is more flexible and is more expensive than sandpaper. Both sandpaper and emerycloth have different uses, as you’ve seen throughout this post.

Which abrasive is more flexible to use?

Emery cloth is more flexible. The sandpaper with higher grits has a thin layer of zinc stearate, which prevents clogging. It is not recommended for use on soft woods, but it is effective for removing paint.

A high-tech ceramic sander should be able to cut through metal, which is harder than the sandpaper.

Abrasive hardness and cost

Abrasive materials differ in their hardness and cost. Aluminum oxide sandpaper is the least expensive, but it can scratch and dull metals.

Aluminum oxide sandpaper is more durable than other types of sandpapers.

While garnet is useful for woodworking, it is too dull to be used on metal surfaces. It is not recommended for use on wood. It can damage the surface of drywall, and sandpaper can cause a rash.


When using sandpaper, the grits vary. The sandpaper with a medium grit is used on softer materials.

The sandpaper with a coarse grit is used on metal and plastic. It’s more durable than sandpaper made of garnet. But it is too dull to be used on plastic.

Sandpaper and Emery cloth are two types of abrasives. Both are used for finishing different materials.

They have different properties. Some types are stronger than others. However, they do not leave a very smooth surface. Aside from being stronger, the sandpapers used in woodworking tend to be more expensive than those for metals.