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Sandblasting Cars – A Guide

Why You Would Sandblast Automotive Cars

Often times when you are doing automotive restoration you will have a lot of corrosion that is occurred on the vehicle due to being left out in the environment for years were simply as a result of being an older vehicle. To be able to restore the vehicle, you most often want to move the existing rust and then repaint the car so that you have the highest quality finish possible. In this article will cover important things you should consider when you are going to be sandblasting cars. The goal when you will be sandblasting a car is typically to remove the existing paint so that a new paint job can be applied and provide both protection and a high quality appearance.

Equipment Decisions to Consider when Thinking about Sandblasting Cars

When it comes to sandblasting cars that will be one of three types of equipment systems you can potentially use to clean the car. First is a traditional sandblast pot which comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 2 to 6 cubic ft. The size of the sandblast pot will determine the length of time you can sandblast before needing to refill the sandblast pot media and also determine how portable sandblast pot will be. Common options for the automotive restoration industry include 3 cubic foot pots and 6 cubic foot pots. The benefit of the traditional sandblast pot is that it can be one of the most affordable options, second it can for a lot of different applications beyond only car restoration, and third it will typically be one of the fastest cleaning options. The downside to the traditional sandblast pot is depending on the media you use you will need to remove or protect soft components like the fiberglass and chrome. Additionally, you will typically need to clean the surface thoroughly to remove any residual blast media.

A second option for automotive restoration work is a soda blaster.  Soda blaster uses baking soda to clean and strip coatings on car surface. Baking soda is one of the most effective medias at removing a coating while not changing the underlying substrate. A soda blaster can be used while leaving delicate parts on the car like plastic and chrome. If you’re going to use a traditional sandblast unit you have to remove soft materials like the plastic and chrome. Additionally, baking soda is one of the most environmentally friendly of sandblast medias to make it ideal in areas where environmental friendliness is top concern. The biggest disadvantage to a baking soda blaster is it will only remove light surface rust.

A Final option for blasting automotive vehicles is what is called a vapor blasting system. A vapor blasting system mixes water along with sandblast media. The benefits of a vapor blasting system are that it produces less dust than traditional blasting. Additionally, the vapor blasting system will remove media from the surface as you blast which can help reduce the prep time for coatings after you have sandblasted. The biggest disadvantage is that you have less time between when you prep a surface and recoat the product because the water in the sandblast unit will cause rusting if the vehicle is not recoated relatively soon after you’ve blasted. Additionally, a vapor blasting unit will typically be more expensive than a traditional sandblast pot and depending on the level of the blast unit it’ll be more expensive than a soda blaster. Remember to you can always use a soda blaster with water injected as well. For a greater in depth overview you can read about the pros and cons of vapor blasting here. A final consideration about your blasting equipment will be if you will be blasting frequently or as a hobby, as there are different grades of sandblasting equipment available ranging from industrial/ contractor grade to hobbyist grade equipment.

Blast Media Considerations

Traditional Blast Media Things to Know

  • If you will be using a traditional sandblast pot you want to evaluate between medias that will strip a product surface and create an anchor profile versus those that will only remove the existing coating. With both types of media, you will typically need to protect or remove certain soft parts so that you do not damage them
    • Common media selections for automotive blasting with a traditional sandblast pot.  For removing just coating walnut shell. For removing rust glass bead or if significant rusting has occurred aluminum oxide

Soda blasting media things to know

  • You never want soda media to come in contact with water while blasting as it will pack down which require you to manually remove all the media from your sandblast pot

Vapor blasting media things to know

  • vapor blasting will work with about any media that can sink in water
  • You never want to leave the media in the blaster after finishing as it will pack down
  • You may not be able to leave the blast pot idle for very long

Equipment Settings that you Should Consider

Depending on the equipment type you use you want to make sure you use pressures that are recommended for each of the blast medias that you might use. For example, soda blasting and glass beads use lower pressures in comparison to other medias like coal slag. Therefore, when you select an equipment type for your automotive restoration blasting process you should make sure to consult with your blast media provider to ensure you are selecting settings that will achieve the result you want. They will be able to tell you pressures that you can use with different medias to not alter the surface or alter the surface depending on your need.

In addition to the pressure which are blasting, you should evaluate the nozzle size of the sandblast unit. Larger nozzles will allow for greater production, but will require a larger compressor which will increase the cost of getting started in automotive restoration blasting. Additionally, for most automotive restoration blasting, you will not want to use a large nozzle because you will be blasting in a lot of smaller areas which will require finer control that smaller nozzles like a four or five size will excel at. As mentioned above make sure you consider the size of compressor you will need to be able to support whatever the blast equipment is that you end up purchasing.


By evaluating proper equipment choices, media options, and correct settings for your blast equipment you’ll be able to make a choice on ideal automotive restoration blasting equipment. If you have any further questions or need further help in knowing whether hobbyist or high-end equipment may be better for you can talk to us at any time.

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