Why use abrasive pads for sanding instead of sandpaper or steel wool

Abrasive pads don’t stuff up like sandpaper or leavy bits behind like steel wool.

If you want to get the smoothest finish on your project, you should polish in between coats. This eliminates any imperfections that can be caused by air bubbles or dust.

In the past, I used steel wool or sandpaper in between coats. Recently, my buddy brought me some abrasive pads. Turns out they work really well.

They don’t clog up like sandpaper all the time, so they last longer. They don’t leave tiny particles behind like steel wool, so I don’t have to clean after them. They are flexible and can fit in tight spaces really well.

These are the best abrasive pads for sanding:


The pads consist of a web of strong fibers. Because they have a web structure, they are flexible enough to change shape and strong enough to sustain hours of rubbing.

No clogging

Because of their web structure, abrasive pads don’t clog. There is a lot of “empty space” that can take in unwanted particles. After each rub, the particles move up through the “empty space” so that you’re always rubbing with the abrasive material.


They come in several grits. You will find a pad for all your needs, from very coarse, to very fine. The heaviest grit can be used for hardcore jobs like paint stripping or even slight derusting when combined with a rust dissolver.

The finer grits can be used as a polishing pad or in between your coats.


Because of their synthetic structure, they are perfect for working with water-based finishes. Even if they will leave some particles, they will not rust like steel wool.


I’ve been always using VSM abrasive pads. I think they last a bit longer than 3M.

They come in 6 colors and grits.

About the author

All my life, I enjoyed doing things with my hands and interacting with nature.I'm a self-taught carpenter, an angler, a hunter, an outdoorsman, an engineer, and an avid hiker. Not as agile as I was in my former years, I've decided to spend more time putting my experiences on paper.

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2 thoughts on “Why use abrasive pads for sanding instead of sandpaper or steel wool”

  1. Useful information. Fortunate me I found your website by chance, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not came about earlier! I bookmarked it!

  2. Do you know the grit or steel wool rating equivalent for the VSM pad colors? I have tried to find them and cannot. I have the grey, white, and maroon. The grey was the only one that came labeled (Ultra Fine S XS). White feels very close to the grey. The maroon feels much coarser, but it is described as both “Fine” and “Very Fine” on Amazon.

    And where do the green, tan, and black fit in? SIA-Abrasives say that their tan is 80, green 100, and black 110, but I don’t know if that transfers to VSM. 3M’s grits do not seem to be the same. Thanks!


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