Corvette Restoration: Sandblasting Secrets

sand blast a corvette

Sandblasting is a common method used to remove rust, paint, and primer from cars, especially during restoration projects. It is a process that involves using a medium such as sand, glass, or baking soda, which is blasted at the car's surface under high pressure to strip away unwanted materials. While sandblasting can be effective, it also has potential drawbacks, such as being extremely aggressive and causing warping if not done properly. Additionally, sand can get into every nook and cranny of the car, affecting various parts. As a result, it is crucial to disassemble and protect certain components before sandblasting.


Sandblasting vs acid dipping

Sandblasting and acid dipping are two methods used to strip paint, filler, and seam sealer from car surfaces. Both methods have their own unique effects on the metal being treated and come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

Sandblasting is a process that uses compressed air to shoot abrasive media, such as sand, walnut shells, or plastic shreds, at the car's surface to strip paint, rust, and other contaminants. It is generally cheaper than acid dipping, with costs ranging from £500 to $1400. Sandblasting can be an effective method for removing surface contaminants, especially when done carefully and with the right media. It can be less harsh on the metal surface, reducing the risk of warping or damaging panels. Additionally, sandblasting does not require the same level of skilled labour as acid dipping.

However, one of the primary drawbacks of sandblasting is that it may not be able to reach all areas of the car, especially box sections and crevices, leaving rust and old paint behind. This is a significant concern for those considering sandblasting as a means of paint and rust removal. Additionally, sandblasting can be too harsh on the metal if not performed properly, leading to warping, stretching, and pitting of the metal surface. The media used in sandblasting can also get trapped in crevices and come out later during the painting process, causing contamination. Furthermore, sand contains silica, which can cause respiratory issues for workers and damage blasting equipment due to its high moisture content.

Acid dipping, also known as chemical dipping, involves submerging the car body in a tank of acid to strip paint, filler, seam sealer, and rust from every surface, including hard-to-reach areas. Acid dipping is known for its thoroughness, removing all paint, filler, and rust from the car's surface. It provides a clean slate to work with and can be followed by a zinc or primer dip to protect the metal. Acid dipping is generally considered less labour-intensive than sandblasting and does not require the same level of skill to operate. However, acid dipping is significantly more expensive than sandblasting, with costs ranging from £1800 to $6000.

One of the critical considerations with acid dipping is ensuring proper neutralization and cleaning after dipping. If the acid is not adequately neutralized and washed away, it can continue to eat away at the metal, causing corrosion and chassis damage. Acid dipping may not be suitable for all types of metal and can react negatively with certain alloys, dissolving them. Additionally, acid dipping can expose underlying issues that may be costly or challenging to address, particularly for those on a tight budget or with less restoration experience.

In summary, sandblasting is generally cheaper and can be effective for removing surface contaminants when performed correctly. However, it may not be able to reach all areas of the car and can be too harsh on the metal if not done properly. On the other hand, acid dipping is more expensive but is extremely thorough in removing all surface materials, including those in hard-to-reach areas. Proper neutralization and cleaning after dipping are crucial to prevent corrosion. The choice between sandblasting and acid dipping depends on factors such as cost, accessibility, and the condition of the car body.

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Sandblasting wheels before painting

There are many reasons to sandblast wheels. You may want to remove the factory paint or primer, corrosion, or grime. Sandblasting is an effective way to strip a wheel down to the plain metal surface in preparation for repainting or powder coating.

Bead Blasting vs Sand Blasting

Bead blasting is the same process as sandblasting, but the media used is superfine glass spheres. Bead blasting is a more gentle process and is better for applications where you want to leave the natural colour of the metal, such as aluminium manifolds. Sandblasting is more suitable for wheels as it cuts through tough factory epoxy primer and provides a surface roughness for the new primer to adhere to.

Wet Blasting vs Dry Blasting

The traditional method for blasting aluminium wheels is to dry blast, and then polish the surface before painting or coating. However, a more efficient method is wet blasting, which uses a vapor blast cabinet or a slurry blasting cabinet. Wet blasting produces no dust and eliminates the need for a separate polishing step. It also has a much quicker blasting time than dry blasting. However, one disadvantage of wet blasting is that the blasted surface must be coated more quickly to eliminate any chances of oxidation.

Choosing the Right Blast Media

If you are stripping aluminium wheels to add paint or powder coating, good choices for blast media include aluminium oxide or crushed glass. These options will leave an anchor profile, which will allow the new coating to grip the aluminium substrate effectively.

Sandblasting Pressure

When sandblasting aluminium wheels, it is important to start with a relatively low pressure of 50 to 60 PSI and increase as needed to avoid warping the thinner panels.

Testing and Safety

Before blasting the entire surface, it is recommended to test a small portion of the wheel to ensure that the air pressure and results look good. Additionally, when working with fiberglass, it is important to have an experienced hand to avoid damaging the surface.

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Sandblasting vs bead blasting

Corvette owners often need to strip paint, remove corrosion, increase adhesion, or smooth out burrs on their vehicles.

There are two common, effective finishing types that many businesses offer: sandblasting (also known as grit blasting) and glass bead blasting. While both finishing options are used for similar purposes, they are very different processes that aren’t necessarily interchangeable.


Sandblasting uses a very high-pressure tool and is therefore a faster process than bead blasting. However, sandblasting is also harsher on the metal. It is similar to using sandpaper on the metal and can smooth and even shape the underlying material.

Bead Blasting

Bead blasting is similar to sandblasting but uses much lower air pressure, making it a slower and gentler process. It is perfect for stripping metal without causing any damage. When you use bead blasting, the result is a more polished look than sandblasting.

Safety Concerns

The safety concerns for both blasting types differ because of the processes used. Sandblasting produces silica dust, which can cause serious health problems if a worker is exposed for a long time. Because of this issue, sandblasting is heavily regulated. On the other hand, bead blasting produces no silica dust and is also a lead-free process, making it a much safer process.

Other Options

Other media blasting options include walnut shells, plastic pellets, aluminum oxide, or baking soda. Baking soda is soft and comparatively delicate, exploding on impact and turning to dust. It can be used on soft metals, glass, and fiberglass. However, it can still do damage because it is fired at the car at such high velocity.

Another option is dustless blasting, which can easily remove paint from delicate materials like the fiberglass Corvette. It protects body panels from warping caused by friction and heat and can be switched to dry blasting for jobs with tight spaces.


Sandblasting vs soda blasting

Sandblasting and soda blasting are two of the primary ways to clean or prepare a surface for industrial coatings. They are similar in their processes and equipment, but differ in their materials and applications.


Sandblasting is the colloquial name for abrasive blasting. It involves using compressed air to force an abrasive material, such as silica, at high pressure onto a surface. It is often used to strip paint from machinery and metal. Despite its name, sand is no longer the primary material used in sandblasting. Other media like glass or plastic beads, steel grit, and even walnut shells are better suited to the task.

Sandblasting is the best choice for removing rust from a surface. It is also more effective at removing paint and cleaning machinery. It is cheaper than soda blasting, but it is also more dangerous. It creates a large amount of dust, which can cause respiratory problems, and its pressurised application can cause burns on unprotected skin.

Soda Blasting

Soda blasting is a newer form of abrasive blasting that was invented in the 1980s. It uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as its abrasive material. It is a milder form of blasting than sandblasting, and is therefore ideal for working on more delicate surfaces. It is also environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and safer than sandblasting.

Soda blasting is especially effective on surfaces like wood, chrome, and plastic. It is also ideal for automotive restoration, cleaning wooden surfaces, and cleaning in masonry applications. It is a good option for cleaning aluminium sheets as it is less likely to damage the material. It is also an excellent choice for removing mould and smoke damage, as it deodorises.

The best option depends on the type of project. Sandblasting is excellent for tougher materials like steel, aircraft parts, and concrete, while soda blasting is ideal for wood and masonry. Sandblasting is generally better when a stronger material is involved, whereas soda blasting is more flexible and versatile, and can be used on a wider variety of surfaces.

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Sandblasting vs dustless blasting

When it comes to stripping paint, rust, oil, and grease from the steel body of a car, there are several methods available, including sandblasting, soda blasting, and dustless sandblasting. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specific needs of the project. In this article, we will compare and contrast sandblasting and dustless blasting to help you decide which approach is best for your Corvette.


Sandblasting is a process that uses high-pressure air to propel small particles of sand onto the surface of a vehicle, scraping away paint, rust, and other contaminants. It is a powerful and effective method for removing unwanted materials from various surfaces. However, one of the main drawbacks of sandblasting is that it can create a lot of friction and heat, which can lead to warping of the metal, especially if it is thin. Additionally, the sand used in sandblasting can be too harsh for certain surfaces, such as wood and glass, and can cause damage. Sandblasting can also be messy, leaving sand particles in hard-to-reach areas, and requiring proper ventilation to avoid health risks associated with inhaling sand particles.

Dustless Blasting

Dustless blasting is a hybrid method that combines a mild abrasive with water, resulting in a powerful yet gentle cleaning process. The addition of water helps to reduce friction and temperature, making it safe to use on a variety of surfaces, including wood, vinyl, and even glass, without causing damage. Dustless blasting is also effective in removing paint, primer, rust, and body filler from cars, and it can be used on delicate materials such as fiberglass. One of the main advantages of dustless blasting is that it creates significantly less dust and mess compared to sandblasting, making it a more convenient and environmentally friendly option.


When deciding between sandblasting and dustless blasting for your Corvette, consider the specific needs of the project. If you are primarily concerned with removing rust from a car body, sandblasting can be an excellent option. However, if you are looking to remove paint or need to work on delicate surfaces, dustless blasting may be a better choice. Dustless blasting is generally faster and easier than sandblasting, but it is important to note that it is typically more expensive. Additionally, dustless blasting equipment offers the flexibility to switch between wet and dry blasting, depending on the requirements of the job.

In conclusion, both sandblasting and dustless blasting have their advantages and disadvantages. Sandblasting is a powerful and cost-effective option, but it may not be suitable for all surfaces and can create a lot of mess and dust. On the other hand, dustless blasting is a gentle yet effective method that can be used on a wide range of surfaces, producing less dust and mess. Ultimately, the best choice depends on the specific requirements of your Corvette restoration project.

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Frequently asked questions

Media blasting is one of the best methods to strip a Corvette. This involves using a medium such as sand, glass, or baking soda, which is launched at the car under very high pressure to strip off paint, filler, and fiberglass. Baking soda blasting is a popular choice as it doesn't harm chrome trim, glass, rubber, aluminum, or fiberglass, and it turns to dust on impact, making it easier to clean.

Sandblasting is an effective way to remove rust, dirt, and paint from a Corvette, especially when restoring a classic car. It can help discover hidden problems and allow you to start from scratch using higher-quality materials.

Sandblasting can be extremely aggressive and may destroy moldings or trim pieces if not done carefully. Sand can get into every nook and cranny of the car, affecting window tracks and regulators. It can also cause warpage on large flat areas, such as hoods and roofs, due to the heat generated during the process.

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