What Grit Sandpaper to Use to Remove Clear Coat?

Whether you seek to remove your car’s clear coat because it’s peeling or for some other reason, you might be wondering what grit sandpaper to remove a clear coat?

What grit sandpaper you use to remove clear coat is reliant on whether you’re starting wet or dry. If you’re starting dry, use 800-grit first. Once you start wet sanding, use 1,000-grit, then finish off with 1,200-grit. If you need to blend sanded areas, use 2,000-grit.

This article will explain why we use these specific grits to remove a clear coat. I will also briefly explain why you should use a sanding block if you’re hand sanding. Read more.

Using sandpaper to remove clear coat.

Best Grit Sandpaper for Wet and Dry Sanding

When doing auto body work, it’s best to start with sandpaper of a lower, rougher grit. Doing so helps remove more clear coat, saving time, and helps wear down any imperfections. Remember: finer sandpaper has “finer” — or higher — grit numbers, and vice versa.

As for wet sanding vs. dry, washing your car beforehand removes dirt and debris that can score your paint. It also washes off road salt, which is caustic and damages vehicles. Water lubricates, too, lessening friction and making for a smoother finish.

So, what grit of sandpaper do you use for dry sanding? What about wet sanding? You may not realise that each type of sanding needs a different grit for the best results.

Use 800-Grit While Dry Sanding Clear Coat

If you’re starting with dry sanding, you want to start with very rough sandpaper: 800 grit. This rough sandpaper wears down any big imperfections in your paint much quicker and will help you make good headway before you need to start being gentler and more precise.

Use 1,000-Grit While Wet Sanding Clear Coat

Once you’ve done your dry sanding and have started wet sanding, begin using 1,000-grit sandpaper. It’s finer than the 800-grit and will smooth any imperfections left behind while continuing to remove the clear coat.

Then, once you’ve worn down the clear coat and it’s taken on a rough feel, switch to 1,200-grit to remove what’s left of it while wearing away any remaining bumps or nicks. This will be the end of the process for most people, but if you want an even smoother finish, you can proceed.

Use 2,000-Grit To Blend Sanded Areas

If you want to achieve an even smoother finish, you can then use 2,000-grit sandpaper to blend the areas you’ve sanded. This is especially useful if you’ve sanded your clear coat off one area but left it intact in an adjacent one.

However, if you see flecks of colored paint in the debris, you’ve sanded too much and should stop. You want to remove your clear coat, but not your paint.

If you’re still curious about the various sandpaper grits used in auto body work, you can learn more about it in this article.

Why Should I Use a Sanding Block To Remove Clear Coat?

You may wonder if you should use a sanding block to remove a clear coat by hand and why it’s better than just sanding with the paper on your hand.

You should use a sanding block to remove clear coat because it helps you apply more even pressure, reducing the chance of causing score marks or imperfections while sanding down your clear coat.

Things To Know About Sanding Blocks

A sanding block is a solid object that you attach your sandpaper to. It applies the same pressure across its surface and typically has a slight “give” to it that helps the sandpaper work better.

Sanding blocks can be made out of foam or sponge, cork, or a block of wood. Sometimes, they have plastic handles or attachments that allow you to use paper for handheld sanders. They can also be angled to help you reach tight corners easier.

If you’re strapped for cash, you can make a sanding block yourself out of a piece of wood or sponge and glue your sandpaper to it.

You may also like to read: What Grit Sandpaper to Remove Rust From Metal?


If you’re sanding dry, use 800-grit sandpaper first. Once wet sanding, use 1,000-grit. Then, progress to 1,200-grit. Finally, if you need to blend, use 2,000 grit.

If sanding by hand, use a sanding block to prevent uneven pressure. They’re made of foam or sponge, cork, or wood and can be homemade.

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