What’s the Difference Between Sanding Screen and Sandpaper?

Sanding screen and sandpaper

Are you wondering about the differences between sanding screen and sandpaper? Have you been trying to decide which you should use on your next project? In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about these two sanding products. 

Most people use sanding screens for rough shaping and sandpaper for finish work. However, this is just a general principle. Sandpaper and sanding screens have some overlap in the jobs they can perform. 

Below, we explain the main differences between sanding screens and sandpaper. 

Let’s jump in!

Differences Between Sanding Screens and Sandpaper

To start, here’s a rapid-fire list of the main differences between sandpaper and sanding screens. 

In the sections below, we will explore each in more depth. 

Some of the differences between sanding screens and sandpaper:

  • Sanding screens allow dust to pass through 
  • Sanding screens are more durable 
  • Sandpaper is for finish sanding 
  • Sanding screens are for demolition sanding 
  • Sanding screens are often used for drywall and flooring 
  • Sandpaper is often used for furniture as it is more pliable 

Okay, now that we’ve got a few of the basics covered. Let’s explore each of these in more depth

What is a Sanding Screen? 

A sanding screen is exactly what it sounds like, a screen used for sanding. The screen is made of a mixture of silicone and resin. This combination creates a durable product. 

The sanding screen works like sandpaper, smoothing a rough surface. What’s the advantage of sanding screens? There are two main things. 

First, sanding screens are durable. This durability allows you to use sanding screens on rough walls or floors. 

Second, the screen of the sandpaper allows the dust to pass through, preventing dust build-up. The clearing effect of the screens increases the efficiency and lifespan of the sanding screen. 

When Should I Use a Sanding Screen? 

The sanding screen is a useful product, but is it good for everything? Below, we list some of the best times to use a sanding screen (and when to avoid it). 

Here are some of the best times to use a sanding screen instead of sandpaper: 

  • Large projects: when you’ve got a lot of work to get done, the sanding screen is there to help. The durability and dust clearing capabilities of the sanding screen make it a great choice for large projects
  • Rough projects: if you’re sanding down some rough drywall, or preparing an old floor for new tile, then the sanding screen can help. 

Now, let’s discuss some times to avoid the sanding screen: 

  • Small, finish work: if you’re trying to sand your kitchen table to a mirror shine, then traditional sandpaper will likely be the way to go. 
  • Sanding rounded edges: for rounded edges, look into using a sanding sponge or regular sandpaper. Silicone carbine sanding screens are geared toward removing rough material. 
  • Using them by hand: Since sanding screens are abrasive on both sides, they aren’t ideal for sanding by hand. Attaching the sanding screen to a sanding handle or a power sander will yield the best results. If you need to sand something by hand, consider regular sandpaper.  

Benefits of Sanding Screens 

We touched on the benefits of sanding screens a little bit; however, let’s cover a more inclusive list. Sanding screens have several benefits over regular sandpaper. 

Here are a few: 

  • Clog resistant 
  • Durable 
  • Double-sided 

Let’s look at these benefits in more depth. 

Sanding Screens are Clog Resistant 

When you’re sanding a large surface, like drywall, you end up with a lot of dust and debris. Regular sandpaper manufacturers have made strides towards developing clog-resistant sandpaper. While these sandpaper advances have helped, it’s still relatively easy to clog up normal sandpaper. 

The sanding screen does a better job with high volume work. The screen portion of these sanders allows dust and debris to pass right through the sander. 

While you’ll still need to clear sanding screens, it’s as simple as tapping them on the floor and getting back to work. 

Sanding Screens are Durable 

Regular sandpaper is prone to ripping, especially with rough work. Sanding screens are made from durable materials that resist tearing.

The durability of sanding screens makes them ideal for uneven surfaces, where you’re sanding down some jagged bumps. 

Sanding Screens are Double-Sided 

Once you’ve worn down one side, flip the sanding screen over and get back to work. Regular sandpaper typically only has a single abrasive side. Once you’ve used it up, it’s done. 

How Long do Sanding Screens Last? 

It’s impossible to say how long your sanding screens will last. It all depends on how much you’re using the sanding screen and if you’re using the sanding screen properly. 

Also, there are several ways you can restore both sandpaper and sanding screens. If you take the time to learn a few techniques to care for your sanding screen and sandpaper, you will get the most life out of your product. 

Here are some ways to extend the life of your sandpaper and sanding screens: 

  • Clean them: grab an abrasive sandpaper cleaner and use it to remove the gunk that builds up on your sandpaper. 
  • Don’t overuse: if you try to push sandpaper or sanding screens past what they can handle, you risk overheating (burns!) your project, leaving scratches, and tiring yourself out. 
  • Don’t use too much pressure: this goes along with overuse. Using too much pressure will cause more gunk to roll up under your sander. 
  • You can use both sides: sanding screens are usually abrasive on both sides. Frequently switch the side you’re using. Take time to clean the sanding screen intermittently. 

How to Use a Sanding Screen

Using a sanding screen is not much different from using regular sandpaper. However, sanding is more difficult than many people anticipate. So, it’s important to avoid overlooking critical steps. 

Here are some guidelines to follow when using a sanding screen: 

  1. Safety and dust control
  2. Clear large chunks with a scraper
  3. Start with low grits 
  4. Use a steady pressure 
  5. Mark your area 
  6. Consider finishing with regular sandpaper

Let’s look at these steps in more depth. 

Safety and Dust Control for Sanding Screen 

Before you begin sanding, always consider the safety risks. Wear safety goggles to protect from flying debris – this is especially true with power sanders. The minute you get something caught in your eye, you’ll wish you had worn safety glasses. 

Second, wear a mask, preferably one that seals your mouth and nose from dust. If you do a lot of sanding, the cumulative effects of inhaling dust can take a toll over the years. 

Finally, try to set up a systematic dust removal process. If you can attach a vacuum directly to the sander, then you’re doing great. At the bare minimum, have a box fan in the room sucking out the dust. (Also, you can look into wet sanding to reduce dust). 

Clear Large Chunks with a Scraper

While sanding screens can remove substantial material, you still want your surface relatively smooth to begin with. If there are a bunch of bumps and chunks that you can safely remove with a scraper, you should get rid of them before sanding. 

Though you could try to smooth out large chunks with a sanding screen, it will delay the project and increase erosion on your screen. 

Start with Low Grits and Work your Way Up 

If you start with a 40-grit sanding screen, you’ll be able to knock down a lot more of those imperfections relatively quickly. However, you don’t always want to start with an especially low grit. 

Here’s why. 

Some surfaces, particularly drywall, could be susceptible to damage with low grits. Some people have reported deep gouges being caused by their sanding screens. (This may not be an issue for all situations). 

It’s worth trying out the sanding screen grit in an inconspicuous area before you use it on the whole surface.

Use Steady Pressure 

Applying too much pressure to your sandpaper can damage a delicate surface. You want to apply some pressure to the sander; just enough to keep it on the path. 

Just like when you use a saw, let the sanding screen do the work. 

Mark Your Sanding Area 

Don’t accidentally sand an area that doesn’t need to be sanded. Use tape, blankets, whatever you can to prevent damage to objects around you. 

It’s easy to start sanding and forget about everything. But, before you know it, you’ll have sanded down a corner or scratched a smooth surface that didn’t need to be sanded. 

Finish Things Off With Regular Sandpaper or Sanding Sponge 

Once you’ve used the sanding screen to knock down all the rough work, bring in the sanding sponge or sandpaper to make everything perfectly smooth. 

Sandpaper comes in incredibly high grits, allowing you to polish your finish to a mirror shine if you want! 

Final Words on Sanding Screen vs. Sandpaper 

Sanding screens are used for rough work, and sandpaper comes in to smooth everything out—sort of like a driver and putter in golf. You take the big swings with the driver, and the putter finishes everything off. 

Sanding screens can improve the efficiency of a large project by resisting clogs and being easily cleaned and flipped for increased use. 

Sanding screens don’t replace sandpaper. But together, sandpaper and sanding screens work to make your project shine.