If you need to clean something quickly and efficiently, sandblasting is one the best ways. While it's most often used in commercial applications, sandblasting has several uses around the home. This method of cleaning involves shooting small pellets or particles out of an air compressor at a very high speed. When these particles strike a surface, any surface debris such as old paint or rust is blasted away.
As effective as sandblasting is, there are many potential mistakes involved in the process. Sandblasting can be dangerous, and it can also damage many surfaces. Here, we'll take a closer look at this cleaning method and the mistakes most commonly made by homeowners (and by professionals working on residential projects). We'll also let you know how to avoid these dangerous and expensive mistakes.
Not Following Safety Precautions
Sandblasting involves tiny abrasive particles flying through the air at a very high rate of speed. Obviously, if these particles have the ability to take paint off, they can do some serious damage to skin and other surfaces. Following safety precautions is an absolute must when attempting DIY sandblasting.
Covering any exposed skin should be your first concern. While a set of full-body coveralls isn't something that most homeowners have lying around, they can be purchased at a surprisingly low cost at many paint-supply stores. These inexpensive coveralls are usually made of paper or very thin fabric.
Heavy gloves are another must when sandblasting. Choose a pair which extends as far up your arms as possible. Leather is your best option. Try to ensure that no skin is left exposed between the glove and your sleeve.
Protecting your face is your most important concern. At the very least, goggles must be worn in order to protect your eyes. However, a full face mask offers even more protection. A mask with a pull-down clear shield is appropriate. If you or a member of your household plays paintball on a regular basis, the masks worn for the sport offer ideal protection.
When using your sandblaster, be sure to stay out of range as much as possible. Different units use different amounts of air pressure, and this affects just how far particles will be blown back toward the user. When you rent or purchase your sandblaster, be sure to ask a knowledgeable salesperson how far back you need to stand in order to stay safe. If you can't find anybody who knows, contact the manufacturer.
Once you have suitable protection for yourself, be sure to keep pets and people away from the area in which you will be working. Let everybody in the household know to stay away until you've finished.
Using the Wrong Type of Particles
A surprisingly large number of particles are available for use during sandblasting. While some are only available to professionals, many can be purchased by DIY handymen. These particles have very different degrees of hardness, and are appropriate for very different types of jobs.
Traditional sand is the most obvious and most common choice for shot blasting machine. However, don't make the mistake of using just any sand. Any large pieces of debris in the sand, such as small rocks, can do a large amount of damage to the surface you're working on. They're also extremely dangerous when flying around at high speeds. If your home center doesn't carry sand specifically intended for sandblasting use, look for sand intended for use in children's' sand boxes. This sand is usually rather fine, and free of debris.
If you have a pool with calcium deposits on the tiles, you may find that glass beads are your best bet for safely removing stains. These beads are extremely fine and round in shape, allowing them to remove calcium stains without damaging your tile. Bead blasting can also remove fungus, mold and mildew from pool grout.
Organic blasting materials, such as finely crushed shells or baking soda, are considered to be some of the best options for cleaning softer surfaces such as brick work and masonry. These materials are generally the gentlest available for blasting.
When you rent your machine, or purchase material for your next blasting job, always as a knowledgeable salesperson which type of sand or other material should be used. Using the wrong material is one of the most common sandblasting mistakes, and it can lead to severe damage. Cleaning an historic brick wall with cut metal wire, for example, can literally destroy the surface, taking off the brick itself instead of only removing dirt.
Using a Too-Small Blaster
DIY handymen don't have a huge range of products available to them for home sandblasting. Some of the most popular blasting units are very small. While this seems like a good idea, it's actually better to choose a mid-range unit. Smaller units often require starting and stopping much more frequently. They need to cycle more often than larger units, and this cycling takes up time. This isn't a very big issue if you're working on something small, such as a piece of furniture. However, if you're working on a larger project, getting it all done with these small units can become extremely time consuming.
A medium range unit will give you all the power you need to get your projects done quickly, without being too powerful for you to safely control. Ask a knowledgeable salesperson about sizes before making your final decision, and read reviews online from people who have actually used the products you're considering. For home blasting jobs, you don't need all the power of an industrial unit, but you don't want to have to stop and wait every five minutes, either. A quality mid-range unit will strike the perfect balance between power and size.
Failure to Collect Blasting Materials
In the world of commercial sandblasting, a sand blasting cabinet is often used. This self-contained unit collects all of the blasting material, allowing it to be used many times. This saves money and reduces waste.
You can take a hint from the commercial blasting industry and collect your own blasting material. A very common mistake when tackling DIY sandblasting work, using sand blasting tank is allowing all your blasting material to literally fly away. Collecting this material and using it again not only saves you money, but it cuts down on how many times you have to carry heavy bags to your blasting site.