Sanding sponges are foam sponges which are impregnated with grit of various sizes, allowing people to use the sponges as sanding tools to smooth various surfaces. Many hardware and craft stores carry sanding sponges along with accessories such as holders which are designed to make them easier to use, and they can be useful tools to keep around the house or workshop. It is also possible to order such sponges directly from manufacturers, or through Internet retailers which specialize in various woodworking and home improvement supplies.
There are a number of advantages to using sanding sponges when compared with sandpaper. One of the biggest bonuses is the fact that sanding sponges can be washed to remove clogged material, and they are very long lasting. As the foam and grit start to wear away, successive layers are uncovered, allowing a single sponge to be used on many occasions and in a variety of settings. The washability is also a big plus when people are working on projects which tend to clog sandpaper, such as sanding paint, putty, and similar materials.
The side of the sponge held by the user is made without grit, so that it will not irritate the hands. Because sanding sponges are highly flexible, they can be used on flat or contoured surfaces, and unlike sandpaper, they will not crack or develop scuffed and bare spots. For extended sanding projects, using a holder can make sanding more comfortable, as it will reduce hand cramping and scuffed knuckles.
Most sanding sponges are designed to be used wet or dry. Wet sanding tends to generate less dust, and it can be more suitable for certain applications. Dry sanding with a sponge can also be less dusty than using sand paper, as the sponge will tend to collect dust and debris which can later be washed out. Wood, plastic, metal, clay, and many other materials can be smoothed with a sanding sponge for various tasks ranging from preparation for painting to finishing a handmade table or cabinet.
Sanding sponges come in a range of grades from coarse to fine. As with sandpaper, it is best to start with a coarse grain and slowly work towards a fine grain with successive passes. Although this method can be time consuming, it tends to generate the best results, creating a smooth, even surface without gouges and rough spots. Some companies make color coded sponges to make it easier to identify differing grits at a glance.