Sandpaper vs Steel Wool: Differences and Uses


How is sandpaper different from steel wool?

These two abrasives have different purposes, and the results will be very different. We’ll deal with some important things to know about these tools. Read on to find out how you can benefit from each.

And remember to always use abrasives in the correct order for different surfaces.

What is Grit all about?

The first thing to understand about sandpaper and steel wool is the grit. The lower the grit number, the finer the grit.

When comparing the two sanding mediums, you’ll find that they leave the same types of patterns on the surface of the wood. However, steel wool is best for intricate shapes, profiles, and hard-to-reach areas.

Abrasive properties


While sandpaper and steel wool have similar purposes, they differ in their abrasive properties. For instance, steel wool’s grain is more uniform, but a finer grade is more flexible.

While the former is better for smoothing glossy or satin finishes, a finer grade is better for delicate sanding between layers of a finish.

Both types of sandpaper are excellent for different types of surfaces, but you should know which one is best for your project.

The disadvantage of using Steel wool

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There are some common problems with steel wool. In particular, numerous scratches can be caused by small pieces, so you should always have a supply of non-rusting sandpaper on hand.

You can also use a magnet to remove the small bits of steel wool, but this may not work well with water-based stains. Regardless of which type of sandpaper you choose, you should have one on hand for any situation.

Define your Project

When choosing between sandpaper and steel wool, you need to decide which one is better for your project. If you’re aiming to make the best finish steel wool is more suitable. But sandpaper is better for smoothing and roughening surfaces.

But if you’re unsure about which one to use, consider the advantages and disadvantages of steel wool and sandpaper.

What is steel wool used for?

Steel wool is an effective way to clean wood surfaces. It is a fine sandpaper, which is abrasive. It cuts the fibers on the surface of the material.

This is why it’s advisable to use sandpaper only when it’s necessary. If you’re working with wood, be sure to avoid using sandpaper that is too coarse.

Neither will help you make a smooth surface, and it can actually ruin the project you’re working on.

Both sandpapers are effective for wood. The latter works well on wood but has higher grit than the former. Unlike steel wool, sandpapers with silicon carbide can withstand water and are more durable.

These two abrasives are both effective for high-speed grinding and wood and can be used to smooth out wood joints and finish. But when comparing the two materials, it is better to use the finer sandpaper.

Other types of sandpapers

Aluminum oxide sandpapers are usually used for finishing wood. They are more effective than steel wool because they create sharper scratches. Additionally, they are more durable than steel wool.

So if you’re not sure which sandpaper is better for you, it’s best to choose the latter over steel wool. It’s important to choose sandpaper based on your application and the desired result.

Aluminum oxide sandpapers are more durable than other types of sandpapers and have a higher grit level. But, you should remember that aluminum oxide sandpapers are not made from metal.

They are made of glass and silicon carbide and can also be made from other materials. But you should always use abrasive sandpaper in combination with water, because they can scratch wood.


Steel wool is commonly used for professional cleaning. It is more effective and durable than sandpaper, and can remove deposits without scratching.

And because it is softer, it is better for sanding. But, you need to consider the cost before you decide which product to buy.

Most sandpapers come with a price tag that is more than double of the price. So, be sure to shop around before you make your purchase.