What grit sandpaper to remove stain. Stains are notoriously challenging to remove from wood. Some dyes, like acrylics or watercolors, can simply be brushed off with a dry cloth, while others work their way deep into the wood’s pores (like oil paints and stains).
The only surefire way to remove all traces of stain is by sanding down the affected area, but that may be prohibitively time-consuming for amateur woodworkers; in this case, medium-grade 100-grit sandpaper may come in handy.
What grit sandpaper to remove stain
Start by sanding the dry surface with a medium grit paper, such as 100- to 150-grit sandpaper, while wearing safety goggles and a mask.
The old stain and finish should be removed with an orbital sander or sanding block, but not so much as to damage the wood.
After removing oil-based substances, wash your hands several times an hour.
When removing stains from finished woodworking, it’s crucial not to let the stain sit for an overly long time.
If the stain has already been coated with a film-forming topcoat such as lacquer or varnish, be sure to remove it first.
Chemically strip the topcoat
It is more difficult to remove topcoats than stains. Use a chemical stripper to remove the topcoat. In 3-5 minutes, scrape off the topcoat with a flat stick. Pay attention to the instructions on the packaging. Chemicals cannot remove stains.
Sandpaper with high-grit
Experts recommend that beginning woodworkers start with 60-grit sandpaper or coarser when stripping finish off of their stock.
More experienced woodworkers then move on to 120 or 150-grit, which are perfect for removing old finishes and smoothing down the surface until it is ready for staining.
If you’re seriously into refinishing furniture, though, buy some 180- or 220-grit papers and use them for sharpening tight spots after staining.
These higher grits will also help smooth out scratches that may be left behind by lower grits.
Sandpaper with low-grit
If you try and sand your wood down with anything coarser than 100-grit paper, you’ll end up destroying it.
Very coarse materials such as 60 or 80-grit are going to give you tiny scratches and gouges in the wood that will need to be sanded down later on with a high grit like 100 anyway.
This is why I generally recommend using something around 150-grit for this step – anything more than that and the job should really be done by a professional.
Using 100-grit sandpaper
A hand sander can use a 100-grit sanding block. Sand in circular motions. Sand pigmented stains as needed, but do not overdo it, as this may harm the wood.
Dye-based stains, on the other hand, can be removed more easily than those that are pigmented.
Sand parallel to the grain
Sanding wood is a simple process. While it’s true that you need to sand in the direction of the grain, you don’t need to sand along with it.
It will result in a more marred, uneven surface. Instead, make sure your block is moving parallel with the grain of the wood, and with each swing make sure you’re going about 4-to-6 inches in either direction as appropriate for your situation. This way you’re making consistent progress.
It’s important that once the initial layer has been worn away and all underneath layers are exposed (we know this may be tough to see through because stains can make it hard to distinguish) that you continue in that pattern.
If they overlap each time then by the time everything has become smooth again no matter how long it takes you to have a uniform finish.