Traditional sandblasting, soda blasting & dustless sandblasting: which to choose!
Last modified: 2019/11/13 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Cleaning stains, paint or discolouration from surfaces can be difficult, especially if they’re quite stuck in. There are plenty of methods and potential solutions on the market for dealing with them. Sandblasting has long been used as a solution to combat set-in stains, or in situations where paint needs to be stripped from the surface its on.
This abrasive method has come under criticism for a variety of reasons, and more recently contractors and entrepreneurs have begun working with a dustless sandblasting and soda blasting method. If you’re curious about these methods but not exactly sure what they are or where to start, read on for more information!
Traditional sandblasting, soda blasting and dustless sandblasting: differences, pros and cons
Sandblasting is an overarching term that is used to describe the process of abrasive blasting. This means applying an abrasive material to a surface or object at a very high pressure. Although it is popularly referred to as “sandblasting,” there are various options for blasting materials. These include glass beads, soda (bicarbonate), walnut shells, and coconut shells. However, in this section, we are going to be discussing traditional sandblasting.
In the case of traditional sandblasting, a finely ground material called silica sand is used to scrape off and clean the chosen surface of rust, paint, stains and so on. An air-powered pressure gun is used, and the chosen material is fired out at a high impact towards the surface you’re hoping to deal with.
Concerning the device itself, there are three different types of sandblasters on the market and these are gravity-fed, pressure blasters and syphon sandblasters. The latter of the three is most commonly used by contractors or around the home to clean and strip small or large surfaces. The syphon sandblaster operates in such a way that the sand itself can be reused multiple times, and for this reason, this option is the most cost-effective.
Sandblasting pros and cons
Sandblasting itself isn’t as widely used in small-scale projects. This is because the process is labour-intensive and messy, and your home will need to be properly prepared. However, sandblasting is great if you’re working on a floor renovation project, as it has the ability to profile a floor. Another major pro is sandblasting’s ability to remove unwanted rust, paint or stains unlike most other methods out in the wide world of renovations. It works extremely quickly and is therefore excellent in situations where things need to be dealt with ASAP.
When it comes to traditional sandblasting, the cons outweigh the pros. Sandblasting should not be used for small or delicate jobs, as the process is fairly rough and thus, can easily damage surfaces. Traditional sandblasting has been widely criticized for containing the property silica. Any extended exposure to this substance is considered a serious health danger and can lead to lung problems as well as disease. With this in mind, traditional sandblasting should likely be left to outdoor spaces or those which are very well ventilated.
Another reason that this job is best left for the outdoors is that it often causes heat buildup and sparks, which sometimes leads to warping the surface you're working on. Therefore, in concentrated areas, it can be highly dangerous. In some municipalities, cities or provinces, sandblasting is actually illegal. This is due to both the health side effects it has as well as the dangerous waste produced as a result. If you're working with this method, make sure it's not banned in your region before diving into the project!
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Soda blasting is relatively new in the realm of abrasive blasting products. While the process itself is still abrasive, many experts argue that soda blasting is actually non-abrasive. The substance used in the soda blasting process is recognizable in many households as it is actually sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. This substance is granulated in a specific way and applied at a very high pressure, in the same process as traditional sandblasting. Soda blasting works to remove contaminants like rust or buildup while also being able to smooth down surfaces. Bear in mind that soda blasting actually shatters on impact and thus, is much gentler than sandblasting. If applied in the right fashion, this substance is so gentle it can be used on glass as well as plastics or chrome. In these severe spaces, it can be used to remove mould and smoke damage and works as a natural deodorizer.
Soda blasting pros and cons
First and foremost, soda blasting is an eco-friendly practice as the substance is biodegradable. This is a huge pull over traditional sandblasting, which is arguably bad for the environment. As mentioned, the process is gentle and will not cause materials to corrode or warp as is the case with sandblasting. You might not have guessed, but soda blasting actually works quicker than industrial hydro-blasting to remove grease and paint. Again, this is also a non-toxic and water-soluble substance and therefore can be safely used inside the home. Not only this but due to the nature of the substance, it has a very easy cleanup process.
The major con of soda blasting is the cost, as the running costs of soda blasting are much higher than traditional sandblasting. In some instances, the soda blasting process will leave a white film behind and this could hurt any plants or vegetation in the area. Lastly, when it comes to storing the material used in the process, there is a restricted time for storage as it may begin to clump together. With all this in mind, we’d still argue that the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to soda blasting!
Dustless blasting works with the same methods of traditional sandblasting. However, water is mixed into the abrasive material and used in the high-pressure process. The water works to actively stop the spreading of dust and debris, hence the name “dustless blasting.” Therefore, the main differences between dustless blasting and traditional sandblasting are that there is little to no debris left behind and further, the water works to cool the surface, thus warping or causing damage to the surfaces being treated is avoided.
Dustless blasting pros and cons
Although there are similarities between traditional sandblasting and dustless blasting, dustless blasting has many advantages in comparison. As mentioned, this process incorporates water and this is generally mixed with recycled glass. Following impact, this material turns into natural sand, leaving for a much easier and less risky clean up than with traditional sandblasting.
As with soda blasting, dustless blasting is much gentler and thus, can be considered non-abrasive. Although it’s not fully environmentally friendly, it is not as harsh as traditional sandblasting. Since this method isn’t as messy, it is also possible to perform dustless blasting in small spaces or indoors as well as simultaneously alongside other work.
When it comes to the disadvantages of dustless blasting, they are few and far between. It's important to bear in mind that some residue will be left behind and thus, clean up will be required. Although the process of removing stains and buildup is quick, you will need to allow the surface to sit idle for a 72-hour period.
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