Dustless Blasting Ultimate Guide: Process, Advantages & Costs
What Is Dustless Blasting?
Dustless blasting is a process of prepping surfaces using a mixture of water and abrasives such as recycled glass to remove old paint, dirt, stubborn stains, and debris without leaving any damages to the surface. It is an eco-friendly method of stripping surfaces with maximum dust containment.
In this method, water and abrasives are mixed in blasting equipment and then sprayed under high pressure to ensure safe and efficient removal of old paint, stains, and other surface contaminants. The mixture will cut through unwanted coatings, paint, primer, and vinyl.
With time, most surfaces rust, get stained, accumulate dirt, or if painted, the paint will start peeling off or showing signs of wearing out. At that point, the surface of the object in question will require restoration. The restoration process will require the surface to be prepped, stripped and cleaned to allow paint and restoration process to adhere to the surface.
However, stripping a surface manually can be tedious and time-consuming. If done manually, surface prepping can be a messy affair with dust, debris, and dirt filling the air. But surface prepping doesn’t have to be this messy with the revolutionary dustless blasting method. This method makes the process of surface stripping a breeze. In this method, the cleaning mixture, water, and abrasives are mixed in a blast tank which eliminates the possibility of having dust particles filling the air as you work on a surface.
If you look at some surfaces around you, it is either they are dirty, painted, rusty or looking worn out they may require restoration which will definitely involve surface prep. The method you use to prep a surface will have an impact on how a coating will adhere to the surface. Dustless blasting ensures complete removal of paint, stains, rust and other contaminants, and leaves the surface ready for coating.
Dustless blasting has some similarities with sandblasting but, with dustless blasting, the cleaning materials are usually mixed together in blasting equipment. Sandblasting on the other makes use of blasts of sand particles which actually end up creating clouds of dust and fills the air with sand particles. Even though sandblasting is a great method for surface prepping, it’s not as effective as dustless blasting.
The process of dustless blasting is relatively straightforward. First, the abrasives are mixed with water. This reduces the weight of the abrasives and prevents trails of dust, dirt, and debris. After the mixing the cleaning materials in blasting equipment, the mixture is sprayed under high pressure similar to the power washer, on the surface. The impact will get rid of stains, dirt, paint, coating and any other stubborn distraction on the surface. Since the mixture uses water, it cools the surface which means no warping.
Dustless blasting uses compressed air and water in blasting equipment with a focused nozzle which ensures that the abrasive hits the surface hard resulting in faster cleaning and thorough stripping. However, even though the blasts are strong and hard on the surface, the mixture will not disintegrate once it hits the surface and will not create plumes of dust as it is the case with sandblasting.
With the dustless blasting method, you can typically use any abrasive material that can sink in water but does not dissolve when mixed with water. Examples of abrasive materials that can be used for dustless blasting include recycled glass, coal slag, and sand. In fact, recycled glass is considered as an environmentally friendly abrasive, that is clean and does an excellent job in stripping surfaces. Even though sand is effective, it’s a bit more aggressive on surfaces as compared to glass. It can leave scratches on brick surfaces. In some cases, using sand as an abrasive can corrode concrete surfaces such as walls and patios. For this reasons, it’s recommended that you avoid sand as an abrasive material when doing dustless blasting.
Advantages of Dustless Blasting
Dustless blasting is an effective solution to surface preparation. It allows you to prep and strip surfaces effectively in preparation for coating. There are many other surface preparation techniques such as sandblasting, grinding, scraping and sanding. While these methods are known to be effective and can actually prep a surface, they are time-consuming and leave clouds of dust in the process.
Dustless blasting stands out among most of these other surface preparations methods and for good reasons. Let’s look at the advantages of dustless sandblasting.
✓ Suppresses Dust
Close to its name, dustless blasting suppresses dust leaving your working environment clean with no plumes of toxic dust. This surface preparation method mixes water and abrasives inside a blast tank. As you blast the surface, the water will moisten the dust and the particles of the coating. Thus, as you blast the surface, the abrasives will remove the coating, and the water will moisten the fragments. Instead of the resulting dust becoming airborne, it will be dissolved in water leaving your environment clean and less messy.
Dustless blasting aims at ensuring effective surface preparation with less or no dust at all. It’s like wiping a dusty surface with a wet rug. Even though there will be some dust, the process will remove the dust with minimum dust in the air. This surface preparation method is one of the cleanest surface blasting methods so far.
Dustless blasting comes in handy if the surface preparation process is in a residential or an urban area. Such places require minimal dust. If you are preparing surfaces in your home, the last thing you want is to deal with a dusty home after the completion of the job. More so, you do not want your neighbors to complain about the dust affair in your home that’s spilling all the way to their property. Dustless blasting suppresses dust, and the process will leave your home and its surroundings dust free and save you the hassle of endless vacuuming.
✓ Less Containment Required
Since water is mixed with abrasives in blasting equipment, there will be no clouds of toxic dust or combustible sparks at the site. As a result, you can blast your objects in an open environment without the need for expensive containment which takes time to set up. In fact, you can blast objects with other people around and the process will not affect anyone. If you have other workers, they can continue working as the blasting process continues.
✓ It’s Safe
Dustless blasting is a safe surface preparation method. This method uses recycled glass as the abrasive media, which is safe, eco-friendly and does not pollute your working environment. The traditional blasting methods make use of sand which has been associated with a disease known as silicosis which is fatal.
In addition, dustless blasting is a clean surface preparation method that leaves no toxic dust plumes around you. This means you do not need to put on a full body blast suit as you would when sandblasting. In fact, with no need for a full body blast suit, you can move around easily without the risk of tripping and falling.
Since it’s a safe surface preparation method with no possibilities of combustible or ignitable sparks, you can use your blasting equipment anywhere. If you are working near live pipelines, you do not need to shut down operations. If you have welders or electrician working nearby, everyone can continue working without worrying about flammable sparks from the blasting process.
✓ Uses fewer abrasives
Dustless blasting combines water and abrasive which ends up creating a bigger mass resulting to a greater force when blasting. As a result, you will require less abrasive for the blasting process. More so, the use of high pressure to spray can also help in removing some coating on the surface. In the end, you will use fewer abrasives and strip your surface more efficiently. The whole process makes your easier, faster and cuts down your operation cost.
✓ Leaves The Surface Clean
Dustless blasting will strip the surface clean and remove the unwanted coating, stains, rust, dirt, paint, primer, and vinyl. But that’s not the end of the process. Dustless basting will actually clean the surface and remove contaminants and minerals that are cause flash rust. In addition to cleaning, dustless blasting uses rust inhibitor which protects your surface for about 72 hours before painting.
✓ Environmentally Friendly
Dustless blasting allows easy cleanup. In fact, the blaster can lay a plastic covering on the working area to collect the abrasive media which will ensure faster clean up. More so, the method uses recycled glass which does not pollute or affect the environment. Even better it consumes fewer abrasives. More so, the debris coming off from the surface during the blasting process mix with water making it easy to contain them and clean. Dustless blasting ensures that there is no production of toxic dust plume and other toxic particles which makes it perfect for areas that have strict environmental rules.
✓ No Warping Friction or Heating Up
Dustless blasting uses water which has a cooling effect on the surface; thus you never have to worry about the surface warping, heating up or having a friction effect. Warping usually happens when the metal surface heats up as a result of friction when using dry abrasives. Dustless blasting method uses water which cools the metal surface to about 10 degrees cooler from the atmosphere ambient. Also since there is the presence of water, there will be no friction when the abrasives hit the surface. The water in the dustless blasting method is the secret magic that eliminates friction, heating up and most importantly no warping.
As you can you can see, dustless blasting comes with lots of benefits for you. If you are planning on surface preparation, it will not only give you effective results, but it’s an efficient surface preparation method that is safe and environmentally friendly. Also commonly known as wet blasting, dustless blasting as a surface preparation process is rapidly becoming popular with most people because of the reasons we outlined above. Compared to the traditional surface stripping methods such as sandblasting, this method achieves a complete removal with no surface damage.
Disadvantages of Dustless Blasting
However, this method has few drawbacks that you should be aware of to enable you to make an informed decision.
This method requires special equipment which is used for mixing the water and the abrasives. The equipment then sprays the mixture under high pressure to effectively strip the surface and remove the unwanted coating, paint, stains, vinyl, primer and any other debris on the surface. While it aids in the removal process, the dustless equipment is quite costly as compared to the regular sandblasting equipment.
Due to the high cost of the dustless blasting equipment, the cost of surface preparation will come at a higher cost.
In addition, this method requires a rust inhibitor to eliminate chances of flash rusting. Rust inhibitor comes at a cost which will add to operating costs. Coupled with the high cost of the dustless blasting equipment, the overall cost of dustless blasting services will be higher than the cost of traditional surface preparation methods.
Another drawback of using this method is the fact the process can be more involving and requires many steps. You will add water to the dustless blasting equipment which is supposed to suppress dust. You also need compressed air to achieve the high pressure needed for a strong blasting effect. On top of that, the blaster will require abrasives, rust inhibitors, water pump and an injection point. All these requirements will take more time to prepare, and it may end up slowing down the surface stripping project.
Despite having a few drawbacks, dustless blasting still has lots of benefits. Compared to the conventional surface preparation methods, dustless blasting is the right method for you especially if you are dealing with a larger surface area or objects that can have delicate surfaces. More so, if you live in an area where environmental rules and regulations are strict on dust and pollution, this method should be ideal for you.
Where to Use This Type of Blasting
If you look around you will realize that almost every surface is painted and coated. Other surfaces may be dirty, rusted or have stubborn stains that ought to be removed. All these are surfaces that will eventually require surface preparation to start the process of renewal. Stripping and cleaning a surface is the first step in restoring an object.
Worn and old looking items can be restored to better objects by cleaning, stripping and then refining them.
Dustless blasting takes less time to strip, removes corrosion, contaminants and any other unpleasant surface distractions that make an object less desirable. Let’s look at ways that you can use dustless blasting to solve surface problems around you.
✓ Surface Cleaning
Are your floors, walls, pathways, and driveway looking old, worn out, dirt and stained? Dustless blasting is the excellent tool for thorough cleaning and restoring any type of surface including masonry, brick, stone, concrete, tiles and much more. This method can be used safely with effective results. In fact, compared to the power washer, dustless blasting will give you better results when it comes to surface cleaning.
Dustless blasting equipment allows you to adjust the blaster’s pressure which then controls the flow of abrasives inside the blaster and their impact on the surface. Thus, if you get to an area that is heavily stained, you can increase the pressure to add the strength of the abrasives on the surface. Dustless blasting is effective in removing years’ stubborn stains, paint, mildew accumulated dirt and grime on the surface.
Unlike sandblasting which can etch brick surface, dustless blasting can virtually be used on any surface without causing any visible damages. It uses strong abrasives under high pressure that ensures complete removal of unwanted distractions, but amazingly it will leave the surface smooth and ready for the next restoration step. If you just bought a home that has been neglected and has years of stains and accumulated grime, you should consider using dustless blasting over a power washer for faster and effective results.
✓ Restoring of Wood Surfaces
Wooden surfaces require regular care and maintenance. A wooden surface will require sufficient surface preparation before sealing, painting or coating it. Wooden surfaces are extremely delicate, and the method you use to strip down the surface will determine how best the paint or sealant will adhere to the surface.
Refinishing wood can be challenging and extremely tricky depending on the type of wood you are handling. You need to make sure you maintain the integrity of the wood surface during the restoration process. But if you are dealing with a larger wooden structure like decks, patios, you need a surface preparation method that is not only effective but fast. Hand sanding is time-consuming and incredibly hard. It’s tough to sand into the cracks and crevices of wooden surfaces using sandpaper.
Dustless blasting is the ideal wood restoration method. It is the perfect wooden surface preparation method that will ensure complete removal of stain, paint, polyurethane, lacquer and any other type of coating on wooden surfaces. In fact, this method works perfectly well for old wood that has seen it all and will restore its surface to look like a brand new surface.
The equipment comes with different sized nozzles and different levels of adjustable pressures which lets you handle any surface. This way, you can strip paint or any form of a coating on a wooden surface even wooden surfaces with intricate details. It can be used to restore antiques which require special handling during surface preparation. The nozzles, the adjustable pressure, and the fact that you have control over the flow of abrasives allow you to gently strip the wooden surface without leaving damages on the surface.
It will allow you to strip even in the nook and cranny of a wooden item and leave a fresh looking surface ready for painting or sealing. Wooden items especially antiques come with special carpentry intricacy which can be challenging to handle during the restoration process. The different sized nozzles allow you to handle fine details of wood leaving the finished surface clean and ready for a refinishing process.
It allows you to maintain the integrity of the wood surface without interfering with its aesthetic appeal. In fact, you can restore any wood with this type of surface preparation method. Dustless blasting can be used to strip and prepare wooden surfaces such as, antiques, patios, decks, siding, fence, furniture items, etc.
It is important to note that wooden surfaces are delicate and are prone to damages especially when using high pressure. Wood also undergoes damages due to environmental elements such as sun damage and moisture which can lead to cracking and cupping. These kinds of damages can be an eyesore. Dustless blasting can restore the damaged surface, get rid of mold, remove the existing finishes by gently blasting equipment using the right pressure.
Therefore, if you have wooden surfaces and items in your home, you do not have to risk damaging their surfaces with traditional surface preparation method. Instead, go for anon destructive surface preparation method that works on any wood and its gentle on wooden surfaces. Dustless blasting is the excellent tool for wood etching.
✓ Removes Graffiti
Dustless blasting is an effective method for removing graffiti on surfaces. If your wall is full of unwanted and unsightly graffiti, getting rid of it without damaging your wall or the surface can be challenging. Dustless blasting makes it easy to safely remove graffiti from your treasured surface without risk of distorting the surface.
It will strip the surface clean, remove paint, dirt grime and other contaminants on the surface. You will be able to do this without production of huge plumes of toxic dust. In addition, you can safely remove graffiti on any building surface without affecting the people nearby. The process ensures complete removal of graffiti and leaves the underlying surface clean, restored and without damages. With dustless blasting, you can reclaim the original state of your walls fast, safely and effectively.
Normal power washing may not achieve better results as you would with dustless blasting. Even better, if the graffiti is embedded on a brick, surface, the blasting will not etch the surface which is likely to happen with the sandblasting method. Instead, it will gently strip the surface and get rid of the graffiti and effectively restore the once beautiful brick surface.
✓ Removes Paints On vehicle
This type of blasting is actually one of the best stripping methods for removing paint on vehicles. It’s an excellent surface preparation method for metal surfaces. The method uses water which in turn reduces heating due to its cooling effect. This reduces the heat and friction which can easily make the metal warp during the stripping process. In fact, reports show that the presence of water in dustless blasting method lowers the metal surface temperature nearly by 10 degrees during the stripping process.
The normal sandblasting usually produces a lot of heat and friction on the metal which makes it warp especially if the surface of the metal is thin. Other methods such as soda blasting may not cause the metal to warp, but baking soda does not have a strong friction effect. Even though baking soda is non-toxic to humans, the resulting dust is not environmentally friendly and can damage plants and grass nearby.
Furthermore, sandblasting and soda blasting produces a lot of dust which ends up settling down in most parts of the vehicle and inside. Since the particles are so small, especially the ones coming from baking soda, they can enter into the pores of the metal surface. This leaves us with dustless blasting as the excellent method for removing paint on vehicles.
Dustless blasting makes use of rust inhibitor which decontaminates the metal surface and gets rid of soluble salts which are responsible for causing flash rust. It cleans the surface and completely removes the paint. In addition, the rust inhibitor leaves the surface free of contaminants and gives it maximum protection for about 72 hours as it waits for the painting process. If your vehicle is heavily rusted, dustless blasting is the safest stripping method. Even better, your car will be ready for painting as soon the blasting process is done. For this reasons, dustless blasting is one the best solution in vehicle restoration process.
✓ Clean Heavy Machines
Heavy machines are usually coated with strong coatings which can be extremely difficult to remove. And since the machines are big and heavy, it can take you a lot of time to remove the coating with the conventional methods such as normal sandblasting. Some machines are also delicate and will require special handling during the restoration process.
Dustless blasting uses a powerful mixture of water and abrasive material which can strip and get rid of any stubborn and toughest coating, paint and dirt. The blasting equipment comes with a highly focused nozzle. This allows the user to apply focused pressure of the mixture on the coating making it easy to remove even the strongest coating on a machine.
Even though dustless blasting is a powerful method of stripping surfaces; it will not damage your machinery. The use of water inthis type ofblasting reduces heat and friction on the surface which eliminates the possibility of warping. The stripping process will leave your machinery clean, completely restored, without any traces of damages.
Machinery plays a big role in the production and so, time is of the essence. Cleaning and stripping your machinery requires an effective surface preparation method that is fast and takes the least time as much as possible.
Dustless blasting will strip the tough coating on heavy machinery within the shortest period possible, and since it involves water, there will be less clean up afterward. Better yet, you will not need to spend hours cleaning dust as the process produces minimal to no dust. With dustless blasting, your heavy machines can be restored in record time, and they will be up and running without unnecessary extended downtime.
✓ Asbestos and Lead Abatement
This is one of the safest and most effective methods for asbestos and lead paint abatement. When it comes to removal of asbestos and lead, there are strict rules and regulations put in place to control the amount of lead or asbestos that can be released into the air. These two substances are extremely toxic and dangerous, and any surfaces that contain asbestos and lead paint have to be handled with caution.
This blasting provides the best solution for lead and asbestos abatement. Since the mixture consists of water, it helps suppress the spread of lead and asbestos. The dustless blasting equipment has highly focused nozzles which ensure precise blasting and flow of the cleaning mixture to ensure complete removal with maximum containment. In addition, the wet blasting process makes the clean-up after abatement easy and safe.
On the other hand, traditional sandblasting and other surface preparation method cannot contain asbestos, and as a result, the process makes asbestos particles to become airborne which is extremely dangerous. With dustless blasting you will not have to worry about hazardous substances spreading around and even better, your cleaning process will comply fully with government rules and regulations.
These are just but some of the applications where dustless blasting works best. It is a versatile technique that can work on any surface preparation. Other places where dustless blasting excels include stripe removal, can be used on marine vessels and refineries. It can remove oil, stains, tar paint, and thermoplastic on driveways and pavements.
Dustless Blasting Cost
The cost varies depending on factors such as the type of object or surface to be stripped and the size of the material. If you hire a professional for dustless blasting job, expect to spend an average cost of about $75 to $300 per hour. This cost, as indicated, will depend on the type of surface, material, the time the job will take and the local labor charges. If you are stripping a car, you should expect to spend $300 per hour on dustless blasting.
Every blasting is usually unique and will have different requirements. This is because different types of a surface will contain different materials and you may not really know what is beneath the top layer of the surface coating. For this reasons, some surfaces will take a shorter time to blast while others will take a longer time.
The process starts with blasting the surface. The time taken will depend on the type of surface and the size of the object. For example, a car takes a day to blast while graffiti can take less than one hour to blast. After blasting, the professional will clean up the surface with water mixed with rust inhibitor which prevents flash rust.
|Internal doors and frames
|Inside the trunk
|Per square feet
|$15 per sq.ft.
|Per linear meter
|$17 per sq. ft.
|Stripping a pool coating
|Domestic size pool
|Removing paint from an entire house
|Blasting a garage
|850 linear feet
|Blasting a boat
|Renting a dustless blasting equipment
|Purchasing a dustless blasting equipment
|Recycles glass abrasives
Renting Dustless Blasting Equipment vs Buying It
If you have surfaces in your home that need blasting, for example, a deck or a patio, or you need to restore your pavements, you can rent the blasting equipment at a fee. It will cost you about $100 to $200 per day to rent dustless blasting equipment. The rates will depend on the rental company, your location, the number of days you will stay with the equipment and the day of the week.
Alternatively, you can purchase dustless blasting equipment if you are planning on doing service preparations regularly or getting in the surface stripping and preparation business. The cost of purchasing dustless blasting ranges from $7500 to $35000. The cost of the equipment will depend on the model, manufacturer and the size of the equipment.
Once you rent the dustless blasting equipment or purchase, it will require abrasives, water, and rust inhibitor. Recycled glass abrasives cost around $10 for a 50-pound bag. A five-gallon bucket of rust inhibitor will cost you $250.
Dustless blasting is a surface preparation technique that uses water and abrasives to remove paint, rust, stains, tough coating, grime, dirt and other hard to remove contaminants. The mixture is prepared in blasting equipment which is then sprayed under high pressure on the surface. Dustless blasting also referred to as wet blasting prevents plumes of toxic dust during the blasting process.
This surface stripping method is environmentally friendly; it’s safe, efficient and quite effective. Since the process uses water, it cools the surface, thus no friction, no overheating which prevents the surface from warping. It ensures easy containment, dust suppression, and uses fewer abrasives. Dustless blasting can be used to remove paint from a car, clean surfaces including concrete, brick, stone masonry among many others.it can be used to restore wood surfaces, remove graffiti among many other applications.