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What is Wet Sandblasting?

Larry Ray Palmer
Larry Ray Palmer

Wet sandblasting is a process similar to power washing. It is used to remove dirt, paint and other difficult-to-remove materials from hard surfaces, such as concrete or metal, in a process known as abrasive blasting. This process is used for industrial cleaning as well.

The process of wet sandblasting involves using abrasive mixed with water. This wet abrasive, or wet sand, is blasted out of the nozzle via air delivered by a pressurized hose and air compressor unit. Moisture will clog dry sandblasting equipment, so specialized equipment is required for this process.

Wet sandblasting uses abrasives mixed with water to clean surfaces.
Wet sandblasting uses abrasives mixed with water to clean surfaces.

In most cases, this specialized equipment is a modified pressure washer unit. Using abrasives, such as silica sand or garnet media for heavier deposits or baking soda media for industrial cleaning, these wet sandblasting units can deliver cold-water cleaning that can remove deposited debris and paint from most hard surfaces. This abrasive liquid is delivered using a kit that includes a specially designed abrasive pickup line and nozzle to mix the abrasive and water as those substances leave the sprayer unit.

Silica sand for sandblasting.
Silica sand for sandblasting.

The common applications for wet sandblasting include bridge work, road surfaces and curb repainting. Road crews and painters often use wet sandblasting equipment to remove paint or other substances before making repairs or repainting surfaces. In many cases, water-borne abrasives are the preferred method for this type of work because those substances do not pit the base structure in the way that dry abrasives often do.

Sandblasting may be used to prepare a surface for painting.
Sandblasting may be used to prepare a surface for painting.

Wet sandblasting does not create the dust and environmental hazards of dry sandblasting, so this process can be used in many places where dry sandblasting has not been a viable option. Dust and environmental dangers from airborne abrasives have made dry sandblasting dangerous for many environments. Wet sandblasting eliminates the dust and airborne contaminants, thus making it a safer option in locations where dust and contamination are unwanted.

Although the wet sandblasting process is considered to be much safer than the process of dry sandblasting, it is not without drawbacks. One of the biggest problems associated with the process is flash rust; the quick onset of a surface rust or staining with iron oxide particles on newly cleaned or sanded metals. Wet sandblasting uses moisture as part of the sanding process and thus exposes the metal to an environment where flash rust begins to set in almost immediately if the metal is not protected by a primer or sealer of some type.

Discussion Comments


A lot of people have heard of the term sandblasting. There are even people who make use of sandblast resist products as giveaways to their events and other parties. In addition, there are some people who consider sandblast stencil as a new form of art.


I am interested in sandblasting some old iron patio furniture that I have but I am not sure how to go about it. Is it possible to find a sandblaster rental somewhere?

Also, if I can get my hands on some sandblast equipment, is this a job that an amateur can handle? I am not totally inept but I also haven't worked with a lot of tools. It looks like something I can handle but I don't want to screw up and end up sandblasting the side of my car.


I have done both wet and dry sandblasting and the wet version is a much easier job. Using a dry sandblasting media creates a dust and sand storm that can ruin your lungs and scar your skin. Not only do you have the sand flying around, you also have a vaporized version of whatever you are sandblasting. This can mean inhaling a lot of paint, pavement or metal. It a rough job and not one that I ever look forward to. I'm not going to say that wet sandblasting is all that much better but you get beat up a little less.


I used to work for a painting crew and occasionally we did some sandblasting. One day me and one of the other guys were driving back from a job and we had the sandblaster in the back of the truck. We passed by this really old abandoned farm that has a really run down barn on it. Most of the roof was collapsed and one of the walls had caved in.

Well we had some time to kill and were feeling kind of mischievous so we decided to see what would happen if we sandblasted the barn. We got it out and set it up and let me tell you, that thing ripped through that wood like a flamethrower through a snowdrift. It looked like we were going at it with a c=chainsaw. There were splinters flying everywhere and we ended up collapsing another one of the walls. I have to say, it was pretty cool. You can really mess some stuff up when you have a gun that shoots sand.

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    • Wet sandblasting uses abrasives mixed with water to clean surfaces.
      Wet sandblasting uses abrasives mixed with water to clean surfaces.
    • Silica sand for sandblasting.
      By: Khorzhevska
      Silica sand for sandblasting.
    • Sandblasting may be used to prepare a surface for painting.
      By: Rob
      Sandblasting may be used to prepare a surface for painting.