9 Easy Steps to Wet Sand a Car

Wet sanding is a wonderful process that, when done correctly, can give your car a beautiful, glossy, and smooth surface. Regardless of the type of paint on the car, you can wet sand it to give it that a glossy, fresh look. In this post, we will consider how to wet sand a car. We will discuss when you should wet sand a car and see if there are any side effects from wet sanding a car.

What is Wet Sanding?

Wet sanding refers to the process of using an abrasive product, for example, sandpaper, with a lubricant, to ‘sand’ away some part of the surface of a car. Since it involves peeling away part of the surface of a car, it is important to do it with the utmost care and attention.

Wet sanding might be required if you want to remove some part of the surface of your car. For example, if your car has a scratch and you do not desire to add a new layer of paint to cover the blemish, wet sanding gives you the option to remove the scratch.

Wet sanding should not be confused with polishing.

Difference between wet sanding and polishing

Difference Between Wet Sanding And Polishing

When you polish a surface, you are using abrasive particles on the surface in a rotary motion. The abrasive element is moving over the surface of the car locally.

Polishing is great because it removes an even layer of the surface. However, this advantage can turn to a disadvantage when you are trying to remove a small amount of unevenness on the layer since it will maintain the unevenness.

On the other hand, wet sanding will evenly cut away the tops of the area. That way, if you are working on an uneven surface, it will remove the top before it removes the flat surface.

What you need for Wet Sanding

The great thing about wet sanding is that you can do it on your own. All of the things that you will need are easily within your reach.

You will require:

  • A car that requires wet sanding
  • Spray bottle with water
  • And wet sandpaper with different grits

As you can see, all you need can be easily gotten. You can find the bottle in any store or might even have some lying around in the garage. It is important that the bottle you use doesn’t eject water in a stream. Instead, it should eject the water in a fine spray. A misty spray is the best option because it will easily spread evenly over the surface and allow you to do the wet sanding easily.

The type of sandpaper used is another important consideration. There are different types of sandpapers on the market, with each one coming with different coarseness. If you use a sandpaper that is too coarse, it might result in having more primer or thinner than you can use. If it isn’t coarse enough, you will have to apply more force which can make the work become tedious very easily.

How to choose the right sandpaper

How To Choose The Right Sandpaper

If you the car you want to sand has a coat of rough primer, a 400-grit sandpaper is a good starting point. This sandpaper is coarse enough to remove any bumps on the surface. Thereafter you can switch to 600-grit sandpaper as you paint the car.

If you are wet sanding a finished paint job, then ignore the advice above. You should never use a 400-grit paper to start off. If you do, then be prepared to have a ruined surface. We highly recommend milder sandpaper, something in the 800 to 1000 grit level.

Steps on How to wet sand your car

You can watch this video to help you see how to wet sand your car. Now that you have gotten all the things you need, it is time to get started!

  1. Get a good location, preferably outdoors. Since the water will remove some paint and is likely to stain the floor, you should do it somewhere that you can easily clean, or that wouldn’t require to be cleaned afterward.
  2. Next, remove all the impurities on the surface of the car. This will involve washing the car. If you fail to remove these impurities, the chances are pretty high that they will mess with the whole process.
  3. Next, spray the water on the surface of the car. As you do, use the coarsest grit available (for finished paint jobs, its better you start with 800-grit). While it is tempting to apply the sandpaper with your bare hands, we recommend that you wrap the sandpaper around a pad. This will negate the inconsistency of your fingers.
  4. Aside from spraying the area to be sanded, you should also spray the sandpaper to be used. Once both are wet, start sanding the body.
  5. Remember to do this gently without applying too much force. Gently sanding the car will reduce blemishes and will reduce the amount of energy you will expend.
  6. Ensure that you sand in a back and forth motion instead of a rotary motion like other types of sanding. As you apply pressure, add water. After some minutes, stop sanding and check if the surface is smooth. You can do this by running your fingers over the sanded area to test for any bumps.
  7. Repeat the process over the entire car
  8. Rinse thoroughly when done
  9. You should treat the area in case there are tiny scratches created by the sandpaper.

When should I not wet sand my car?

If you have shallow scratches on the surface of the car’s coat, then wet sanding is a great idea. It will help to remove the blemishes.

However, if you have deep scratches on the surface, then wet sanding will likely do more harm than good.

Use wet sanding only for the top layer and clear coat of your car.


So there you have it: how to wet sand a car. Use the tips and information contained in this post to effectively remove any scratches from the surface of your car and leave it looking brand new!

If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to ask in the comments section.