Is Vapor Blasting Safe?

calander Feb 28 , 2023 user-icon Nash Painting

In a recent article we announced the exciting news that we’re rolling out vapor blasting services, taking surface prep to a whole new level. As a recap, vapor blasting, also known as wet blasting, is a surface preparation technique that uses water and an abrasive material to remove unwanted coatings, rust, or corrosion.

The beauty of the process is that it strips away anything and everything that will compromise the integrity of your NEXT paint job, making sure that the substrate is clean and receptive.

Going a bit deeper, vapor blasting is also much gentler than traditional sandblasting (we’ll explain why in a minute), making it ideal for preparing even delicate details and trim. All without messy, expensive chemical paint strippers. Perfect for our gorgeous, older Nashville homes that need the slate wiped clean before their next paint job.

With all that in mind, let’s explore some of the key considerations. Ready?

Understanding Vapor Blasting

The process is similar to traditional dry blasting, but instead of using air to propel the abrasive media, vapor blasting uses water.

This is key: the water acts as a cushion, preventing the abrasive media from causing damage to the underlying substrate while also reducing dust and other airborne particles. That’s why it’s a cleaner, safer, more environmentally-friendly alternative to sandblasting.

So, what kind of equipment is involved?

  • Blasting cabinet

  • A slurry pump

  • A water supply

The blasting cabinet is where the blasting takes place, while the slurry pump and water supply provide the necessary mixture of water and abrasive media. The operator then controls the flow of the slurry and adjusts the pressure to achieve the desired finish, factoring in the age, nature, and condition of your specific surfaces. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

The type of abrasive is also chosen carefully for your project, and typically can include:

  • Aluminum oxide

  • Glass beads

  • Plastic media

  • Garnet

Aluminum oxide is a popular choice for general surface preparation and rust removal, while glass beads are often used for gentle cleaning and finishing delicate surfaces. Plastic media, on the other hand, is a soft abrasive that’s ideal for removing paint and coatings without damaging the underlying surface, and garnet is a harder abrasive that is effective for heavy-duty applications like the removal of thick coatings and rust.

How do we choose which to use?

It all depends on the specific requirements of the project, as well as any environmental and safety considerations. It’s a tool and needs to be chosen carefully to avoid any unnecessary damage or waste.

Health and Safety Concerns

It’s safe, efficient, and clean, but the vapor blasting process still requires a careful approach. We’ve taken it all very seriously, investing in training, high-tech equipment, and developing rigorous safety standards and procedures. Here’s a closer look:

  • To protect yourself during vapor blasting, it's important to wear appropriate safety equipment and clothing, such as a respirator, gloves, and protective eyewear

  • Proper ventilation and maintaining air quality is critical

  • Depending on the age of the paint and coatings being removed, the slurry created during the process can contain hazardous materials (like lead or other heavy metals)

  • Any captured slurry and particulates need to be properly disposed of to avoid environmental contamination

Like any other exterior painting project, the key is to fully prep and contain the space, covering the ground for easy cleanup.

Regulations and Best Practices

Regulations and best practices for vapor blasting can vary, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established guidelines for the use of abrasive blasting materials, including:

  • Employers must provide proper training for workers

  • Access to appropriate personal protective equipment, such as respirators and eye protection.

  • Blasting operations must be conducted in a well-ventilated area

  • Implementing effective dust suppression measures to minimize exposure to airborne contaminants.

At Nash Painting, we prioritize safety in all of our projects, and our team of professionals has extensive experience in vapor blasting.

Have More Questions?

Contact us at Nash Painting! We’d love to talk with you in more detail and discuss how vapor blasting could be the perfect fit for YOUR Nashville property.