What is a Sanding Sponge and How to Use it?

Have you been wondering about the sanding sponge? Sanding sponges are useful tools when properly used. But are they appropriate for every sanding task? Below, I share some insights into the sanding sponge. 

Sanding sponges are sponge-like sanding tools used for sanding wood, drywall, and plastic. Sanding sponges are like sandpaper, but the abrasive material is attached directly to the foam of the sponge instead of a piece of paper.

In the next sections, I break down everything you need to know about sanding sponges and how to use them. 

Like any tool, sanding sponges can be incredibly useful; however, you can cause more harm than good if you use them improperly. 

Let’s jump in!

What’s a Sanding Sponge? 

Sanding sponges have been around for some time. We’ve all sanded with the traditional sheet of sandpaper. Sometimes, our hands get tired trying to apply the proper pressure to the paper.  

This lead people to use something called a sanding block. Basically, the sanding block is used as a base, and the sandpaper is secured around the block, giving you an even pressure. 

The sanding sponge is a combination between the sanding block and sandpaper. However, the two are not entirely interchangeable, as I will explain in later sections. 

Let’s go over several types of sanding sponges: 

  • Variable grit sanding sponges 
  • Dust channeling sanding sponges 
  • Corner sanding sponges

Let’s explore each of these sanding sponges in more depth. 

Standard Variable Grit Sanding Sponges 

These sanding sponges are the everyday sanding tool. Similar to regular sandpaper, sanding sponges come in various grits. 

Sanding sponges are just like regular sandpaper; the lower the number, the rougher the grit, and the more material the sanding sponge will remove. Likewise, higher grits will give you a smoother finish but remove less material.

There are also various sizes of sanding sponges. Some are large and fill up your whole hand. Larger sponges are useful for smoothing out drywall or preparing furniture for paint. 

Smaller sanding sponges work well for detail work. Maybe you like to make small wooden crafts, and you need to keep your sanding precise – this is the time to go small.  

Dust Channeling Sanding Sponges 

Dust channeling sanding sponges help prevent dust build-up when sanding. 

If you’ve ever used any sandpaper, you know that it’s difficult to keep the abrasive portion of the sandpaper clear. When dust clogs the sanding surface, you can’t get anything done. Essentially, you’re just smearing dust around your project. 

To eliminate this problem, or at least reduce it, sanding sponges were developed with channels. These channels look like diamonds on the surface of the sponge. The channels allow a place for the dust to collect without clogging everything up. 

You will pay a little more for the dust channels, but it might be worth the extra cost if you need maximum efficiency. 

Corner Sanding Sponges 

Finally, we have corner or wedge-shaped sanding sponges. These sanding sponges have a beveled edge that allows you to sand in tight places. 

If you’re trying to sand the grooves on a piece of trim, or you have a tight corner, then the beveled sanding sponge gives you an advantage as they can place pressure in tight places.

Alright, now that we’ve gone over the different types of sanding sponges, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of using them. 

Benefits of Using a Sanding Sponge

Sanding sponges provide comfort and efficiency. When you need to sand all day, you don’t want your hand to be all torn up. 

In this section, I break down some of the best reasons to use a sanding sponge. As you’ll see, sanding sponges have a ton of advantages. However, they also have some downsides. We will discuss the cons of sanding sponges in a later section. 

For now, here are the best reasons to use a sanding sponge: 

  1. Sanding sponges are comfortable 
  2. Sanding sponges are fast
  3. Sander sponges with dust channeling surface 
  4. Sanding sponges can reach in tight corners 
  5. Sanding sponges resist damage 

Let’s look at these ideas in more depth. 

Sanding Sponges are Comfortable 

Regular sandpaper in your hand can become tiring. Also, many times it isn’t easy to get a good grip, causing slipping and inefficiency. 

Furthermore, you may think, well, a power sander is the answer. It’s true, power sanders are useful and needed tools. However, they can be very tiring to use. All the vibrations from the spinning and orbiting motion on a power sander can wear someone out fast. 

The sanding sponge gives you a good grip and is an effective tool. 

Sanding Sponges are Fast 

With sanding sponges, you’ll see the time you spend sanding decrease. Why? 

Because sanding sponges offer increased grip, decreased clogging, and even pressure. Those three characteristics help you comfortably get a lot of work done. 

Sanding Sponges Resist Clogs

Some sanding sponges are built with clog-resistant channels. Not all sanding sponges have these channels built into the sponge; however, these channels aren’t really an option on regular sandpaper. 

Sanding Sponges Can Reach Tight Corners 

When sanding around edges or reaching into tight corners, it can be difficult to get the pressure you need with regular sandpaper – and most power sanders don’t fit! 

Sanding in tight spaces might be the best reason to have a sanding sponge around. 

Sanding Sponges will Sand Rounded Edges 

Sanding sponges are, as their name implies, spongy. The malleability of sanding sponges makes them useful for sanding a rounded edge, as the sanding sponge will naturally contour to the curve. 

If you tried to use a sanding block for a round edge, you would create a flat spot. Not good. Sanding sponge resolves this issue.

Sanding Sponges Resist Damage 

The sanding sponge is fairly resistant to damage. When using a sheet of sandpaper, the smallest tear in the paper just gets larger and larger. However, a small tear in the sanding sponge is fairly self-limiting. 

Also, even after you’ve used up your sanding sponge and it’s no longer effective, you can still wrap a normal sheet of sandpaper around it and use it as a grip. 

Now that we’ve discussed the pros of sanding sponges let’s touch on several cons. 

Downsides to Sanding Sponges 

Though sanding sponges are useful items, they are not without their downsides. 

Here are a few cons to sanding sponges: 

  1. Not as versatile 
  2. Sanding Sponges are more Expensive 
  3. Fewer Grit Options 

Let’s look at these closer. 

Sanding Sponge Versatility 

Though sanding sponges have multiple uses, it could be argued they are less versatile than regular sandpaper. 

For one, you can take a regular kitchen sponge, wrap it with sandpaper, and have something quite similar to a sanding sponge. 

Second, you can use regular sandpaper in multiple ways: you can wrap it around a block of wood to create a sanding block, you can attach it to a powered palm sander, you can cut it in strips to use around round edges, etc. 

For these reasons, you might decide you’re better off sticking with regular sandpaper. 

Sanding Sponges are More Expensive 

Here’s another downside to sanding sponges – money. One standard sanding sponge will cost around five US dollars. This is nothing over the moon, but considering you can buy a whole pack of several sheets of sandpaper for the same price, it’s a bit more pricey. 

That said, sanding sponges are still a useful item to have around. 

Fewer Grit Options for Sanding Sponges 

This con ties in with the last one. To get several different grits of regular sandpaper, you just spend five dollars on an assortment pack and call it good. However, to get multiple grit options for sanding sponges, you’ll need to buy several sponges. 

However, you can find many grit options for sanding sponges if you need them, and some sponges will have different grits on each side of the sponge. 

How to Use a Sanding Sponge 

Here are some guidelines to remember when using a sanding sponge. 

  • Safety – always wear eye protection. It’s also a good idea to wear a face mask. 
  • Start with a low grit – the lower the grit, the rougher the sandpaper, and the more material it will remove. Start with 80-grit or even 40-grit (for especially rough surfaces) and systematically work your way up. For most surfaces, you’ll want to work up to around 22O grit. 
  • Sand with the grain – avoid sanding across the grain. Sanding with the grain gives you the smoothest finish and avoids scratch marks. 
  • Mark the area you’d like to sand – when using a sanding sponge, you’re going to remove material quickly. You don’t want to sand off a corner you needed accidentally. 
  • Use even pressure – let the sandpaper do the work. A comfortable pressure is all you need – this will prevent avoidable scratches. If you feel like you’re not removing enough material, try using a lower grit before you tire yourself out. 

Hopefully, this guide gets you started on the right track! 

Final Words on Sanding Sponges

Sanding sponges are great tools. They bring comfort and control to the sanding experience. If you have a big sanding project ahead, it’s worth including these sponges in your tool kit.