Abrasive blasting – Sandblasting

sandblasting an object

Sandblasting – the most common form of abrasive blasting

Abrasive blasting refers to modifying or cleaning a surface by blowing abrasive grit with high pressure towards the surface. The pressure and the grit together abrade the surface in a controlled manner. Abrasive blasting exists in different forms which differ from each other by the grit they use.  Shot blasting and sand blasting are the two most common forms of abrasive blasting. The difference between these two is that sandblasting uses clean sand as abrasive material whereas shot blasting relies on metal shot.

The different forms of abrasive blasting are suitable for achieving the following results:

  • Shaping an object
  • Removing surface contaminants
  • Smoothing a rough surface
  • Roughing a smooth surface

In this article we will focus on sandblasting, which is by far the most common form of abrasive blasting.

Efficient and effective: why is sand blasting done?

One might think it is possible to shape objects, smooth and rough surfaces as well as remove contaminants simply by sanding; and that abrasive blasting is nonsense. However this is not the case: abrasive blasting is remarkably faster and more effective. Sandblasting makes it possible to reach the smallest corners and holes whereas sand paper does not stand a chance.

Sandblasting price and what it includes

Sandblasting in general is not a very expensive job to do or let it done. When you decide to use a sandblasting the service, the price is usually dependent on the following factors.

  • The grit that will be used
  • The surface material and condition
  • Treatment after sandblasting (priming, top coating)

Sandblasting price is usually not calculated per square metre, due to the fact that the amount of work needed cannot be determined by knowing the area to be blasted. The sandblasting price is usually given per hour including surface preparation, blasting and possibly coating. Powder coated objects require double the time to sand blast due to the fact that blasting off powder coating is time consuming. Note that the more complicated the shape of the object, the more time the blasting requires.

Sandblasting metal price

Thus, usually sand blasters charge for the work per hour. However, some products have a fixed price  due to the fact that the shape and size are standardised. Such products include for example wheels and motorcycle frames. Again, if these are already powder coated, the price may increase due to the toughness of the coating.

Here you can find an overview of sandblasting prices in the UK, for fixed products.

ItemServicePrice (average)
Car WheelsSandblasting£15 per wheel
Car WheelsSandblasting and powder coating£ 35 per wheel
Motorcycle FrameSandblasting and powder coating£ 70
Car chassisSandblasting and priming from £ 140
Garden chairSandblasting and paintingfrom £ 25
Garden tableSandblasting and paintingfrom £ 45

Note, that it is not unusual that a grit blasting service charges per minute. Then the price is usually  £ 1 per minute.

Sandblasting services in the UK

Some of these companies also provide other abrasive blasting services depending on the equipment in their possession. If you wish to coat the surface after abrasive blasting, you can search for a service that takes care of both, sandblasting and powder coating or painting.

Sandblasting serviceAddress
Blast-Away Sand Blasting UKNorfolk Square, Paddington, London, W2 1RY
Grit Blasting UKMount Pleasant Yard, Market Lavington, SN10 4DP
A4W Ltd71-75 Shelton Street, Covent garden, London, WC2H 9JQ

Renting a sandblasting cabinet to do it yourself

If you decide to sand blast yourself, you will need specific sandblasting equipment to make sure you succeed. You can hire sandblasting cabinets and other equipment for example at one of the locations of the following companies. Both of these have multiple locations throughout the UK.

  • BrandonHire
  • Hewdens

The costs of sandblasting equipment hire are dependent on the company and the equipment. Here you can find some example prices to give an indication on the costs.

  • Industrial sand blaster  £ 200
  • Sand blasting kit for cleaning facades £ 55
  • A mini blaster for light cleaning jobs £ 35

Tips to succeed in sandblasting

  • Sandblasting is ideally done with a constant pressure of 10 bar.
  • If you are using a compressor of 4 kW, you should use pressure of at least 6 bar.
  • Effective dust suction makes your job easier.
  • New grit blasts hard, but also gives a rough surface especially on soft materials such as aluminium.
  • Grit with more dust in it blasts softer and effectively smoothens a surface.
  • Sand blasting may create static electricity which releases through the gloves. You can solve the problem by attaching a massacable to the object.
  • Make sure the surface is clean; does not contain oils or other contaminants. Note that all the contaminants will end up in the grit if not removed prior to blasting.
  • Note that rests of soft products such as clue cannot be blasted away but need to be removed manually.
  • Be sure to wear a protective mask when sand blasting. The dust that results from the process should not access the respiratory ways.
  • You also don’t want the dust in your eyes: always wear goggles!

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