Sand & Water Blasting: Pressure Washer Power

sand & water blasting with a pressure washer

Sand and water blasting with a pressure washer is a technique that uses a machine to assist in sanding and cleaning a surface. The process involves using a pressure washer to propel water or air at high speed to push solid particles, such as sand, across the surface being cleaned. This method is particularly useful for reaching corners and crevices that are difficult to access by hand. Sand and water blasting can be used for a variety of applications, including removing rust, paint, and dirt from metal surfaces, as well as cleaning concrete and brickwork. It is important to follow safety precautions when using this equipment, such as wearing protective clothing and ensuring proper ventilation.

Characteristics Values
Working Pressure Up to 5000 PSI
Flow Rate 2 GPM
Temperature Up to 195°F
Hose Length 10 ft (light-duty), 20.5 ft (medium and heavy-duty)
Nozzle Material Carbide, Steel, or Ceramic
Nozzle Orifice Size 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5
Probe Metal
Protective Clothing Heavy work gloves, face shield, long sleeves
Surface Distance Several feet
Sand Type Washed and dried river sand, dry silica sand, baking soda, ground walnut shells


Sandblaster kit setup

Setting up a sandblaster kit is a relatively simple process, but it requires careful attention to safety and the correct equipment. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a sandblaster kit:

  • Inspect your equipment: Before you begin, it is important to inspect all parts and components for any cracks, leaks, or other damage. This includes items such as the air compressor, hoses, nozzles, and safety gear.
  • Position your compressor: Set up your air compressor upwind from your work area and on level ground. This will help keep dust and debris from entering the system and ensure proper functioning of the oil, moisture separators, and lubrication systems.
  • Lay out the hoses: Arrange the bull hose and blast hose as straight as possible to eliminate kinks and reduce bends. This will improve material flow and performance.
  • Connect the hoses: Carefully connect the hoses and fittings, inspecting them to ensure they are securely in place and there are no air leaks.
  • Start-up procedure: Once all the hoses are in place, follow the manufacturer's recommended start-up procedure. Allow the system to warm up, then check the air pressure gauge to ensure it is within the desired range. Make adjustments if necessary before commencing blasting.
  • Conduct tests: Perform a compressed air cleanliness test and a nozzle pressure test to confirm that the air is free of moisture and oil. Also, check that the pressure is optimal for the type of abrasives and surface material you will be working with.
  • Wear safety equipment: Don't forget to wear protective gear during operation, including a blasting respirator or hood, steel-reinforced footwear, a heavy canvas blasting suit, and protective gloves.
  • Choose the right particles: Select the appropriate abrasive blast materials for your specific application. Consider the type, size, shape, and hardness required for the job. For example, glass beads are better than sand for blasting tiles as they are rounder and finer, preventing damage to the tile.
  • Collect blasting particles: To save money and reduce waste, collect your blasting particles after use. Commercial sandblasters use a blasting cabinet, but a sheet or tarp will also work for DIY projects.
  • Maintain safety: Always follow safety precautions when sandblasting. Cover any exposed skin, and use a full-face mask or at least safety glasses. Keep yourself and others out of the range of the blasting to avoid injury.

By following these steps, you can effectively set up a sandblaster kit and ensure a safe and efficient blasting process.

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Sandblaster safety

Sandblasting is a potentially dangerous activity that requires safety precautions to be followed. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind when using a sandblaster with a pressure washer:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Eye and Face Protection: Always wear goggles or a face shield to protect your eyes and face from flying debris and abrasive materials.
  • Respiratory Protection: Wear a respirator or a blasting helmet with a breathing apparatus to prevent inhalation of dust and abrasive particles. Ensure proper ventilation in the work area.
  • Hearing Protection: Use earplugs or earmuffs to protect your hearing from the loud noise generated during sandblasting.
  • Hand and Arm Protection: Wear heavy work gloves to shield your hands and arms from abrasive materials and high-pressure water.

Keep Water Away from Sand Supply:

Ensure that the sand suction hose is placed above the lance or wand during operation. If the hose is placed below, water can run down the hose, wet the sand, and cause clogging. Always keep the sand covered to prevent it from getting wet.

Safe Handling of Materials:

  • Sand Type: Use silica sand or other recommended alternatives such as baking soda, crushed glass, or ground walnut shells. Ensure the sand is dry before use.
  • Nozzle Material: Carbide nozzles are superior for their long-wearing and corrosion-resistant properties. Stainless steel or ceramic nozzles are suitable for light-duty work.
  • Nozzle Distance: Always test the spray on a similar scrap material first. Gradually adjust the distance of the nozzle from the surface to find the optimal range for effective sandblasting without damaging the surface.

Work Area Precautions:

  • Surface Coverage: Cover or protect nearby surfaces that are not intended to be sandblasted to avoid accidental damage.
  • Clean-up: After sandblasting, ensure that all surfaces are dried thoroughly to prevent rust or further damage.
  • Safety Signage: Display appropriate warning signs and restrict access to the work area to authorized personnel only.

Maintenance and Inspection:

Regularly inspect and maintain your sandblaster and pressure washer equipment to ensure optimal performance and safety. Check for any obstructions, leaks, or damage to hoses, nozzles, and other components. Refer to the user manual for specific maintenance instructions.

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Sand types and their uses

Sand is an important component in construction, often providing strength, bulk, and stability to materials like concrete, mortar, asphalt, and cement. There are several types of sand, each with unique properties that make them suitable for specific applications. Here are the common types of sand and their uses:

Sharp Sand/Coarse Sand/Pit Sand

Pit sand is a coarse type of sand with fairly large and sharp particles. It is typically used in concrete construction due to its ability to bind well and form a tough, solid surface. Pit sand is sourced from inland areas and is free from salts, making it ideal for building applications where moisture and damp issues need to be avoided. The colour is usually orangy-red due to the presence of iron oxide.

Builders Sand/River Sand/Screeding Sand/Plasterer's Sand/Mason's Sand/Bricklayer's Sand

Builders sand is much finer than sharp sand, with smaller and smoother grains. This type of sand is used in screeding and plastering applications to achieve a smooth finish. It is typically collected from river beds and banks, giving it a light grey to almost white colour. Builders sand is used for general mortar and masonry work, as well as brick and block laying.

Jointing Sand/Sea Sand/Silver Sand/Washed Sand/Beach Sand

Jointing sand, as the name suggests, is sourced from beaches and coastal areas. It has very fine and smooth grains due to the action of tides and waves. This type of sand is not widely used in construction due to its salt content, which can cause corrosion issues when in contact with steel. Jointing sand is suitable for jointing paving and patio slabs, children's sand pits, and golf bunkers.

Artificial Sand/Crushed Stone Sand/M-Sand

Artificial sand, also known as M-sand or manufactured sand, is artificially created by crushing basalt or granite rocks. It serves as a direct replacement for river sand, with similar grain size and shape. M-sand is gaining popularity due to the shortage of natural river sand. It is used for general mortar and masonry work, brick and block laying, and rendering.

Other Types of Sand

There are several other less common types of sand, such as desert sand, biogenic sand, olivine sand, and volcanic sand, which are used in specialist applications or are not suitable for construction due to their fine grain size or instability.

Choosing the Right Sand

When selecting sand for a construction project, it is important to consider the grain size, shape, and cleanliness. The silt content of sand used in construction should not exceed 4% to ensure the structural integrity of the concrete. Additionally, sand should be free from clay, salts, and other impurities that can affect its performance.


Sandblaster troubleshooting

Sandblasters are used to clean metal, glass, wood, and plastics. They operate on a pressure system or a siphon system. The input to a sandblaster is high-pressure air from a compressor and an abrasive such as silica sand or silicon carbide. The troubleshooting process is similar regardless of the type of system.

No Compressed Air

Test your air gun to ensure that you have high-pressure air available, eliminating the possibility of a faulty gauge. Confirm that the air compressor output pressure gauge indicates adequate pressure when the compressor runs. No air generally means a faulty compressor.

No Abrasive Coming Out of the Nozzle

Activate the sandblaster gun and check if you can see and feel the abrasive coming out of the nozzle. If you can feel the air but there is no abrasive, you may have an empty abrasive tank or plugged-up feed lines. In the case of a pressure blaster, the mixing valve on the pressure tank may be defective or obstructing the abrasive feed.

Reduced Blasting Effect

Inspect the area you are blasting. If you have adequate air and abrasive material but are experiencing a reduced blasting effect, change your nozzle. The nozzle will wear over time, and as the orifice enlarges, the blast pattern will get larger and less effective. This will also cause your blaster to use more abrasive.

Moisture in the Lines or Tanks

Drain condensation build-up in the compressor tank weekly, more often in high-humidity areas. The drain is located at the bottom of the tank and can be removed with a small crescent wrench. Moisture in the air lines or abrasive can cause significant problems for sandblasting.

Valve Adjustments

Aside from the issues mentioned above, most other problems will be related to valve adjustments.

Other Tips

  • Keep a maintenance log with the equipment.
  • Do not look into a sandblaster nozzle while the air compressor is connected.
  • Wear a respirator while troubleshooting a sandblaster when it is outside the cabinet.
  • Ensure the sand suction hose is on top of the lance during operation. If it is underneath, water can run down the hose, getting the sand wet and causing it to clog.
  • Always point the nozzle downward when not spraying to prevent water from entering the sand supply.
  • Keep the sand covered to prevent overspray from wetting the sand.
  • Use silica sand or alternative abrasives such as baking soda, washed and dried river sand, sodium bicarbonate, crushed glass, or ground pecan or walnut shells.
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Sandblasting techniques

Sandblasting is a process that uses a machine to assist in sanding and cleaning a surface. This technique can be used to remove rust, paint, and other dirt from various surfaces, including metal, concrete, brickwork, and wood. Here are some tips and techniques for effective sandblasting with a pressure washer:

General Instructions:

  • Ensure that the sand suction hose is placed above the lance during operation. If the hose is placed below, water can run down, wetting the sand and causing clogging.
  • Use electrical tape to secure the hose in place if needed.
  • Dry the sand suction hose thoroughly before use to prevent clogging.
  • Keep the sand covered at all times to prevent water droplets from contacting it.
  • Always point the nozzle downward when not in use to prevent water from entering the sand supply.
  • When starting, hold the wand several feet away from the item and gradually move closer to find the optimal distance.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as heavy work gloves, a face shield, and long sleeves, during the process.

Sandblasting Media:

  • Washed and dried river sand is a common option for wet sandblasting.
  • Silica sand is another popular choice but ensure it is specifically intended for sandblasting as regular silica sand is banned due to health risks.
  • Other alternatives include ground walnut or pecan shells, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), crushed glass, and dry ice.

Sandblasting Equipment:

  • Carbide nozzles are recommended for their long-wearing and corrosion-resistant properties.
  • Steel or ceramic nozzles are more suitable for light-duty work or infrequent users.
  • Ensure your pressure washer has sufficient pressure and flow rate for the sandblasting process.


  • Always wear protective gear, including goggles, heavy work gloves, and long sleeves, to avoid injury.
  • Avoid pointing the nozzle towards anyone and always point it downward when not in use.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors if possible.

Sandblasting with a pressure washer can be an effective way to clean and smooth surfaces. By following these techniques and instructions, you can achieve the desired results while ensuring safety and efficiency.

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Frequently asked questions

Sand & water blasting is a technique where a machine is used to assist in sanding and cleaning a surface, using water or air propelled at high speed to push solid particles.

There are three types of sandblasting units: light, medium, and heavy-duty sandblasters. Light-duty sandblasters are designed for small jobs and are equipped with a 10-foot line. Medium and heavy-duty sandblasters are designed for bigger, industrial-sized jobs and are generally equipped with a 20.5-foot hose.

Washed and dried river sand, silica sand, and baking soda are some materials that can be used for wet sandblasting.

It is important to always wear protective clothing such as heavy work gloves, a face shield, and long sleeves when sandblasting. It is also crucial to ensure that the sand supply line is above the water line to prevent water from entering the sand supply.

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