What You Need to Know About Sanding Down Plastic

What You Need to Know About Sanding Down Plastic

Posted by Sandpaper America on Sep 17th 2019

Throughout history, natural abrasives like flint and emery gave us the ability to sand wood, metal, and even glass with a level of efficiency and convenience never known before. But with the introduction of Aluminum Oxide and Silicone Carbide sandpaper, the industry of abrasives was forever changed. And sanding products are now manufactured with a more consistent and predicable set of materials. This is good because we have also, throughout the years, invented new man-made products, like plastic. 

So what do you do when you need to shape or finish an artificial material such as plastic? Continue reading to find out!

Sanding Plastic

Sanding plastic is tricky, and comes with a list of potential problems. But majority of times, heat is the largest issue you will face. Common knowledge tells us that friction creates heat, so it should be no surprise that sanding produces heat. Unlike wood and metal that warm up but then reflect heat, plastic absorbs heat; so even the smallest amount of heat can soften, warp, crinkle, or alter plastic, thus jeopardizing the final outcome of your project.


But all this does not mean that it is bad to sand plastic. Sanding plastic increases surface area, which creates even more opportunity for new coatings to adhere to the surface. A simple “gentle scuffing” or light sanding is enough to improve on adhesion. It doubles surface area, giving coatings new areas to cling to!


A gentle sanding is fine for plastic, but too much can create a load of problems. For instance, a common problem caused by too much sanding of plastic is a defect called hairing, in which parts of plastic split off into hair-like strands. It can also called thermoplastic re-flow, blemishing, scratching, and much more. Use the proper sanding products and find the right medium in terms of pressure, and you should be safe!

Buy Sandpaper Today!

Call Sandpaper America at 1-800-860-SAND to buy high-quality and competitively-priced sandpaper products, today. We manufacture all of our sanding products in-house, so you can feel confident in the quality of our products. Call 1-800-860-7263 to learn more about ordering sandpaper online, custom orders, bulk orders, and more!