How to Choose the Right Abrasive for the Job: A Guide to Abrasive Blasting Media

Using harsh materials to strip paint, add surface finishes or even prepare surfaces for painting is not exactly new technology. However, developments in recent years have moved us far beyond the good old days where everything was just “sandblasting.” Softer materials like baking soda or walnut shells can handle more delicate surfaces, while the hard stuff like silicon carbide can get the job done on tougher assignments. Beyond those basic options, there are some other choices everyone should know about. Read on to see how the benefits of media blasting can really help your company elevate its work.

Aluminum oxide

Aluminum oxide blasting is one of the heaviest-duty materials on the market. It can offer fast etching and profiling and handle most tough metals, but the good news is that it’s so lightweight it can also work on many thinner materials without damaging them. It’s also recyclable, and surprisingly cost effective. It can be used for grinding, edge rounding, paint removal and polishing, so its benefits are widespread. The only caveats are that it can be too harsh for the thinnest of surfaces, and it also wears away its application equipment faster than some other options.

Glass bead blasting

One of the best media blasting benefits is that most of these options can help offer you a clean slate to work with. Glass bead blasting is no different, using lead-free soda lime-type glass that’s formed into small balls. When these are blasted onto a surface, they create an attractive finish that gives you more of a satin look rather than the matte that is so typical in blasting.

Glass bead blasting is also helpful from a health perspective—there’s no free silica floating around, which can be harmful under the wrong conditions. It’s also a green choice, because it’s easily recyclable. That said, glass beads can be too soft to provide an etch on just about any surface, so they’re not as heavy duty as some other options.

Plastic abrasive blasting

One of the lightest-duty abrasives out there is plastic. It’s a dry cleaning option that is a great choice for when you only need to take off surface-level material—this means it’s more of a cleaner than a true destroyer. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, so it’s likely there’s the right plastic abrasive out there for your job. However, they’re typically only suited to this cleaning type of work—if you have a bigger project in mind, you’ll want to break out the big guns and pick another type of blasting media.

The benefits of media blasting are numerous widespread. They can help you get the job done quicker and more efficiently, and all for a cost that’s probably lower than you were expecting. Our team at Great Western Painting uses these wonderful tools for prep work. If you have a commercial or industrial painting job on your schedule, get in touch with us today and let us do the job right the first time!

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