Sandblasting is a perfect choice when you need to clean a surface from dirt, rust, paint… Various surfaces can become smooth and clean after sandblasting such as concrete or metal, which get sandblasted the most often.
Yet, you might be surprised that it is also a good choice for cleaning more delicate surfaces if used properly with a proper abrasive; for example, it can be part of the restoration process of historical pitchers and can be used even for porcelain.
Once again, if it’s used properly, sandblasting removes undesirable contains from surfaces cleanly with no or minimal surface damage. Also, important to note, industrial abrasive sandblasting is a dangerous technique for a person doing a job and surrounding. So, the usage of protective gear is absolute MUST.
Let’s see in more detail what you need to consider if you want to do sandblasting properly and be a real master blaster.
Choose an Abrasive Media
Sand as abrasive material is not used anymore in sandblasting due to health reasons. It contains silica; if it gets into the lungs can cause disease. Yet, there is a range of abrasive media that you can choose in accordance with your needs:
- Garnet is a safer alternative for sand, is excellent for industrial sandblasting
- You can choose a gentle, natural blasting media such as walnut shell, corn cob, pumice
- Consider also glass beads or plastic beads
- Then there is hardest among abrasives silicon carbide for tough jobs
- Steel grit is a perfect choice if you need to paint a surface after sandblasting
- Steel shot leaves a very smooth finish
What is also important when you are choosing an abrasive media for your surface is to choose a proper size of it. They come on the market marked with different grit numbers:
-The smaller particles the higher is a grit number-
The logic implies that you’ll use smaller particles for more delicate surfaces (or higher grit numbers) and larger particles (or lower grit numbers) for rough materials.
Protect Yourself (Workers)
Sandblasting workers are exposed to a high level of dust. There is a need for them to wear protective gear that includes an air filtration system with clean compressed air. Air filtration system should be maintained on a daily basis to ensure it works properly and that it’s clean.
A standard dust mask and face shield in most of the cases won’t do the job. A blasting helmet and supplied air system are highly recommendable in abrasive sandblasting.
Also, workers should protect their bodies. Good sandblasting suits are designed to provide both – ease of movement and minimisation of blast impact. Usually, suits are made from canvas or leather and some of them have an in-built sandblasting hood.
There are blasting gloves for hand protection, and specialised safety glasses or goggles to protect eyes. Earplugs for hearing protections are also recommendable because, besides a high level of dust, workers are exposed to a high level of sound during sandblasting.
Make sure to properly protect all body areas before starting the work.
Protect Surrounding Surfaces
What you already know, but you certainly don’t want to forget before sandblasting is that this job is pretty messy; it produces a lot of debris in the air and surrounding area. So, it would be ok to take steps in preparation and to do it with minimum environmental contamination.
Start with moving anything you can from the area and cover things that cannot be moved. If you’re doing sandblasting indoors, make sure that you cover windows. That is the most common oversight by non-professional sandblasters.
You can use tarpaulin covers, plastic sheets or temporary skirts to “close” the sandblasting area as much as possible.
Have in mind that no matter how much effort you put in covering the stuff, cleaning after sandblasting is over would be necessary. Try to use abrasive media that are environmentally friendly every time. Sand is not a good idea, as explained earlier.
Also, don’t forget about the high level of sound during sandblasting and to be considered. And for the end… don’t forget to enjoy the job; a surface becoming smooth and clean is very pleasing to watch!