Abstract The topography of a grinding wheel was modeled as a convolution of random waves of large wavelength for the grain and of small wavelength for the cutting edges. The superimposition of these two waveforms gives the “characteristic grain”. On the basis of these concepts, expressions for the roughness and wavelengths, taking into account elastic deflection, were derived for the ground surface along the longitudinal and transverse directions. The fracture and attritious wear mechanisms were used to introduce separate wear rates for the grains and the cutting edges with the progress of cut. These wear rates were used in developing expressions for the roughness and wavelength of the surface generated with the subsequent cuts. Given the wheel type and dressing conditions, predictions obtained from these expressions were validated with the experimental results.