10 Applications of Sandblasting/What do you Use a Sandblaster For
Posted: December 1, 2020 By: MattM
Media and Sand Blasting is a really good way to clean large areas and has been a tried and true method but there are many uses that the general public doesn’t realize that you can do with a sand blaster. Below we cover some of the most common uses of a media blaster and what media is commonly used in that process.
- Remove Rust and Corrosion- The most common use of media and sand blasting is to remove rust and corrosion. This is most common on ferrous metals like iron and steel. For these materials you commonly use a pressure blaster with a heavier cutting media like Aluminum Oxide.
- Delicate Cleaning of Small Items- Smaller items like hand tools, household door and cabinet hardware and other items around the house can be cleaned with a media blaster. With smaller items you don’t need a large pressure blaster and a space suit to blast. You can use a small table top or stand alone blasting cabinet that keeps the media contained and is a much cleaner job for small parts. We like to use a dust collection system in conjunction with our cabinets to keep and dust from getting into the air while blasting. For all purpose blasting we’ve found that crushed glass media works well and isn’t so abrasive it will heavily profile the surface like aluminum oxide.
- Smoothing rough Casting and edges- Sometimes media blasting can actually smooth or semi-polish a surface that is a little rough. If you have a rough casting with sharp or irregular edges or radii you can use a media blaster with crushed glass to smooth a surface or soften an a sharp edge. To soften an edge you may need to go slower across the edge with the media as the crushed glass media won’t work as fast as more aggressive media but it won’t leave a rough texture to the surface. If you want to strictly smooth or “polish” you can use a gentle media like walnut shells.
- Create Custom Textures and Artwork- Media Blasting or Sandblasting a surface to create art or designs in the surface isn’t a new process. Etching glass with a media blaster is an old process and still used to this day. Mainly ornamental media blasting designs in glass, plastic, and metal can be done through masking or blocking off certain areas to keep the media contained in a certain area where you’re removing material or profiling the surface. This is a more permanent solution than paint and gives a lasting, custom appearance.
- Cleaning Surfaces- Media Blasting can be used to actually clean surfaces that have corrosion or natural decay on them like mold, moss, dirt, and other things that just naturally get stuck in the pores of the surface. For greasy parts you can use a gentle media like walnuts or soda to clean and not profile metal. A common practice on large scale areas of concrete, brick, and cement is to use a dustless blaster which utilizes a mix of high pressure water and abrasive media like soda that is safe for the environment. This can now be done at home with a gas powered high performance power washer and a dustless blasting conversion you can find HERE.
- Surface Prep– Sandblasting and media blasting is a great way to get a surface ready for paint or coating. In the automotive world it is the preferred method to media blast a chassis before powder coating it. The more aggressive media like aluminum oxide leaves a profile in the surface that actually helps the powder coat adhere better. This is why most powder coaters prefer items to be media blasted before coating.
- Mold Removal- A quick way to remove mildew and mold from structures or ornamental landscaping is to use media blasting. For this you want a more delicate abrasive media like soda. This will remove heavy mold or mildew but won’t profile the surface. This also works well on wood in a water damaged structure and can leave a good base for resealing, staining, or painting.
- Removes Oil Stains- Oil Stains on your driveway or on you concrete floor in your garage can be unsightly and difficult to clean up. Using a media blaster can quickly remove oil stains and return the concrete to its “as-poured” color. We prefer to use our dustless liquid blasting kit with a strong power washer for this particular job.
- Fire Damage Clean Up- Fire Damage can be expensive and difficult to repair and sometimes you will need to restore some of the existing structure. Media blasting has been found to be an effective method to remove soot and staining from smoke and fire damage. Use soda for softer materials like wood and crushed glass for masonry restoration. This is one of the go-to methods for fire and water restoration services.
- Restore Vintage Hardware- Whether you’re restoring an old house or a classic car nothing beats original hardware. On a all-out restoration it really is the cherry-on-top when the vehicle or house has the old world charm of hand cut/filed flathead screws or old square head bolts that really isn’t available today. We like to use a media blasting cabinet and a hardware bin to hold batches of hardware and blast them in the cabinet. This will clean all dirt, paint, rust, and grease off the hardware and leave it ready for restoration. It’s a good practice after blasting to chase the threads on bolts and nuts with a tap and die set to assure smooth installation.