Can You Sandblast Old Paint Off Wood?

sandblasting to remove paint from wood

Wood is a material that can be reused again and again.

Old wooden furniture, for example, can be re-purposed or re-used assuming it is in good shape.

Wooden items that have old paint on them will need to have removed if you want the new paint to stick.

Whether you choose to apply a new stain or paint, you will need to remove the old paint first.

There are different methods that you can use to get rid of the old paint. Using a sandblaster may seem like the easiest to some for obvious reasons.

But is a sandblaster the right tool to use when removing old paint from wooden surfaces?

What is Sandblasting?

Sandblasting is simply a process that involves propelling small particles such as bits of sand against a surface.

And yes, sandblasting does work for removing the old paint from the wood as well.

The abrasive particles will generally hit hard on the surface to remove paint that is sticking to the surface of the wood.

Depending on how you set your sandblasting device, the effect will be noticeably different.

The sandblasting process is quite versatile when it comes to applications.

You can use a sandblaster for the following.

  • Preparing surfaces
  • Removal of paint, rust, or other surface coverings
  • Edge profiling of components
  • Textures the surface

Keep in mind that sandblasting can remove mold from plastic surfaces as well.

The type of material that is most commonly used to blast away the surface include sand and the following.

  • Plastic, copper slag, and crushed glass
  • Glass bead, aluminum oxide, and walnut shell
  • Ceramic & steel grit

Choosing the right abrasive substance is important because they have different effects depending on the surface.

How does it work?

The process of sandblasting to remove paint from wood is fairly simple.

Small bits of abrasive material is first pushed through a nozzle at a high rate of speed.

When the material strikes the surface, it takes bits of material that are on the surface such as paint and removes them.

The continual impact of the abrasive material will take away the surface layer of materials such as wood.

You will need to choose the right substance which means that you will need the right material and proper settings on the sandblaster.

Plus, you will need to select the right sandblaster for your needs.

For the most part, hand cabinet types are the most common for personal use.

While robotic and high production equipment is more common for commercial use.

Types of sandblasting

There are two basic types of sandblasting, wet and dry.

Wet sandblasting is actually more common compared to dry sandblasting.

  1. Wet: This process uses steam mixed with abrasive elements.
  2. Dry: This process uses compressed air to propel the abrasive elements.

Wet sandblasting is considered safer compared to dry and depending on the usage may require special permission from local authorities.

This applies to commercial usage when sandblasting large sections is required.  

Why Choose Sandblasting for Wood?

There are good reasons why the sandblasting process is preferred over other methods of preparing surfaces for new paint or stain.

When taking off old paint, sandblasting has benefits that can help speed the process with less effort.

1- Simple:

Just point the sandblasting device towards the surface you want to prepare and pull the trigger.

It takes little training to use a sandblaster properly.

You will need to cover surfaces that you do not want to sandblast, and you will need to clean the area afterward.

But even so, that takes considerably less time compared to other methods of paint removal.

2- Fast:

Larger paint stripping projects can consume lots of time, particularly when you want to sand the paint off wood manually.

Using a sandblaster, on the other hand, can help you save a great deal of your time and physical effort.

2- Versatile:

Using the right abrasive materials, you can remove a variety of elements on the surface while minimizing the damage to the wood itself or the material itself.

This means that you can remove old paint, stain, dirt, discoloration, and the like quickly and easily.

3- Safe and efficient:

In addition, using non-toxic abrasive materials means that you can wear minimal protection during the sandblasting process.

And, if you use even strokes when applying the sandblaster, you’ll get really good results as well.

How to Sandblast Old Paint Off Wood?

To properly remove paint from wood using a sandblaster, you will need the right abrasive materials.

Common silica sand is a popular abrasive, but you can also use aluminum oxide or glass beads which will do the trick.

However, do remember that silicon carbide is the hardest sand (or media) to use in sandblaster, especially for the toughest project.

With this silica sand or silicon dioxide medium you can expect to reduce your blast time and overall costs.

If you want to save a little money, then a cheap material such as coal slag which is sometimes called “black beauty” will work as well.

For thick paint, aluminum oxide is generally the best. For paint with one or two coats, glass beads seem to work the best.

If you want to save money, then black beauty or silica sand is quite cheap and will get the job done.

Keep in mind that in case you are not sure whether the wood surface you are blasting can handle an abrasive media like sand, it’s better to use softer media like walnut shells or corn cobs.

Since they won’t cause any etching and are biodegradable, these are among the best environmentally-friendly blasting media for a softer wood.

Do You Need to Prepare Wood for Sandblasting?

As mentioned, sandblasting is a process that can help in refinishing the wood pieces by successfully stripping the paint or stain.

The process can be successfully applied to wooden furniture, doors, windows, decks, tables, cabinets, chairs, desks, etc, especially when the other DIY process of stripping the paint fails.

However, before you begin with the sandblasting process it is essential to prepare the area and the wood itself so that you can get the desired results without creating any mess or physical damage.

Due to the fact that sandblasting wooden doors, windows, and drawers can create a large mess, it’s good to remove and open up the different parts from the wall to accomplish the process in a good ventilated open area (like your garage).

If you are sandblasting wood cabinets, make sure that you remove all the objects (like dishes in the kitchen cabinets) and lay them down on the floor or any other flat surface.

Remember that during the process, the sand and wood particles will spread all around the area.

So, if you are concerned about cleaning the sand afterward, it’s good to use a thick drop cloth beneath the surface.

Is Soda Blasting Better Than Sandblasting?

Soda blasting is different than sandblasting.

It’s technically a new abrasive blasting technology that is most of the time considered non-abrasive.

Since the granular form or the sodium bicarbonate, which is used for blasting, gets shattered when blasted, the process is considered to be gentler than media blasting or the so-called sandblasting method.

Soda blasting is commonly used for removing mold or smoke damage.

If done correctly it can successfully be used upon materials like plastic, glass, etc.

Whether to Rent or Buy A Sandblaster?

Getting your own sandblaster kit is not cheap.

There is a blasting gun, blasting bucket, blasting media, air compressor, and a few other items you will need to get for your project.

So, depending on how large is your overall project and what are the costs involved, you can rent or buy a sandblaster.

Particularly if you plan to refinish your house completely or if you plan to perform the outdoor paint projects professionally on a regular basis, it’s best to invest in a good sandblaster or a sandblasting cabinet.

However, if the project is small and your budget is not enough, it’s wiser to rent a sandblaster machine from a home improvement store near you.

Where to Buy a Sandblaster?

Sandblaster units or sandblasting cabinets are easily available at a hardware store or a home improvement store near you.

You can also find some great options at retail online stores like Amazon, eBay, Homedepot, and others at a competitive pricing range.

No matter where you get it from, it’s important that you check the reviews and the materials you will get along with the machine.

Safety Tips and Considerations Before You Proceed

There are a few things to remember before you use a sandblaster to remove old paint from wood surfaces.

  • Wear safety goggles, a face mask, and gloves
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, work boots, and pants
  • Place tarps around the work area to catch the abrasive material
  • Sweep up after using the sandblaster
  • Use a sandblasting cabinet for small pieces
  • Beware of lead paint which may be present on surfaces more than 40 years old

After you have sandblasted the wood, remember not to reuse the sandblasting media for an abrasive process again as it may not be very effective.

The Bottom Line

Sandblasting is one of the best ways by which you can strip old paint off wood.

The process above will also make you ready to refinish and repaint the wood to your liking.

Just make sure that you follow the sandblasting process carefully and be safe while using a sandblaster.

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