A Car Owner's Guide to Sandblasting

Posted on: 16 February 2021

Thinking of restoring your old and rusted car? Sandblasting is a good solution. It's a process of scrubbing rust, grime, dirt, and other unwanted materials from a surface for cleaning and restoration. This technique uses a piece of equipment, called a sandblaster, to push fine grains of different media at high speeds through a nozzle that's directed onto the surface to be cleaned. It is fast and efficient, but you need to do it right to get the best results. Here are some quick tips to get you off on the right foot.

Get Protective Clothing First

Sandblasting produces microscopic dust that can be harmful to your health when inhaled so get yourself some safety gear first. Shop for a dust or breathing mask, hand gloves, a helmet or face shield, and some safety glasses or goggles. Ear protection may also come in handy since sandblasting can be quite noisy. Also, get an apron for the project or wear long-sleeved clothing and long trousers.

Use the Correct Media

Sandblasting uses a wide range of media including sand, plastic beads, glass beads, walnut shells, and steel grits. The right type of media for your project will depend on which part of your vehicle you want to sandblast. For instance, for sections with thicker materials such as the underside of your car, you will want to use hard media such as rough grit or steel grits. Using such media on the body frame could result in warping, so be keen to use the correct media on different parts of the car. If you are unsure, the rule of the thumb is to always start with gentle media such as walnut shells, plastic beads, and glass beads then switch to the harder media based on the results.

Cover the Fragile Parts

Weak or fragile parts on your vehicle such as the side mirrors, windowpanes, tail lamps, and headlamps cannot withstand the high pressure under which the medium is often propelled. To keep them from being damaged while you're sandblasting the vehicle, cover them with thick sheets. Also, remember to point the sandblast nozzle away from such parts when sandblasting.

Be Careful With the Pressure Settings

High sandblasting pressure can easily warp or damage the body frame and panels. Therefore, always start with low-pressure settings and increase gradually as necessary. And like with the media, the surface you are working on will determine how much pressure you need. However, worth noting is that whenever you feel the need to increase the pressure, find a piece of scrap metal that's the same size as the car part you want to sandblast and do a quick test. This will help you know whether the pressure will warp the body frame or panel