Sandblasting can be a great way to clean a variety of surfaces, but a lot of people wonder if sandblasting will damage a building.
The answer is yes, it can. Now, that doesn’t mean you should never sandblast a building. Rather, it means it’s important to know what type of material is on the exterior of the building and know what type of material and pressure you’re using to sandblast.
Analyze the building surface
Before you drag out a sandblaster and start blasting away that dirt and grime, it’s important to first analyze the building’s exterior surface. Is it brick? Limestone? Concrete? How old is the building? Has the surface been painted, sealed, or otherwise treated in the past?
The type of material and the age can affect whether or not sandblasting is a safe method for cleaning the building. If you’re unsure about the exact material used or how old it is, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure proper identification prior to sandblasting.
Understand your sandblasting options
Sandblasting involves shooting small particles out of an air compressor at high speed, but those particles aren’t always sand. Other possible materials include crushed shells, glass beads, silica flour, rice husks, coconut husks, or ground corncobs.
There are also different levels of pressure you can use in sandblasting, and the combination of material type and pressure affect how well it works and how much it could damage a particular surface.
Recognize that not all damage is immediately visible
There are plenty of chemical cleaning products on the market that will tell you to test a small area first before using that cleaning product on a larger surface. It might be tempting to think the same rule applies to sandblasting, but not all damage caused by sandblasting is immediately visible.
The high pressure of sandblasting removes dirt but also wears away some of the surface of your building, which can lead to future spalling where the brick begins to turn into powder and fall apart. Just because it looks okay when you test a spot doesn’t mean it will still look okay in a couple of months.
If you’re concerned with the possibility of damaging your building by sandblasting, contact us for a consultation. We can help analyze your exterior and recommend the best approach for cleaning and restoring it.