On the Back Side

02 22 2021

We’ve talked about sandpaper quite a lot (we are, after all a sanding supply company!), including the minerals used to make abrasive products, sandpaper grits, and why quality matters. We thought this would be a good time to talk a little about what holds it all together, the backers. 

Abrasive sheets are available in a wide variety of forms. The most common backers are paper, cloth and mesh (like Mirka Abranet), but you may also find abrasive backed with plastic film or fiber (kind of like fiberglass). 

The cover of a Mirka Abranet product box

Paper is most common and has a wide variety of backer weights available. Cloth is flexible and lends itself well to applications where you need to wrap the abrasive around a form. Mesh has great advantages when you need a solution where the abrasive product won’t clog and where dust collection is easily managed. 

The weight (thickness) of the paper backing on sandpaper sheets is rated on a scale A through F, with A grade being the lightest weight. On the other hand, cloth backed abrasives are rated J, X, Y, T, and M; in this case J is the lightest weight.

A 1 inch by 150 foot cloth shop abrasive roll

These ratings can help you to determine the backing that is best suited to the project you are working on. When sanding flat, even surfaces, a stiff backing helps to prevent digging in or rounding over the edges. A lightweight backing is best when using a profile sanding block to smooth moldings as it will more easily wrap around the block.

So what do you do if you find yourself with the wrong backer for the task at hand? Here are two tips that will help you out:

  1. Bonding a lightweight abrasive sheet to a heavier backer will improve its durability and performance when sanding flat surfaces.
  2. By rolling and unrolling the sheet into a tight tube shape, heavier backers can be broken down and become more flexible for situations where flexibility matters.
Three sheets of sandpaper

Of course, the best solution is to simply have the right product on hand for the job. The Team at 2Sand is always available to help you select the best sanding solution for your specific application. Give us a call at (800) 516-7621 or email We’d love to hear from you!