Sandblasting Cost

In this guide

Process
Wet abrasive blasting vs. dry blasting
Materials and methods
Hydro and dry ice blasting
Health risk 
Labor
Additional Considerations

How much does it cost to sandblast a house?

Sandblasting, also known as abrasive blasting or cob blasting, is a method for cleaning or removing layers of different substances from a surface using sand or other abrasive materials such as corn cobs or glass beads. The sand or grit is sprayed under pressure at the surface, stripping off things like paint, stucco, rust, and grime and laying the original surface bare beneath.

There are many different circumstances where you may want to have sandblasting done on your property. Log homes are usually sandblasting to remove layers of stain and grime from the logs to allow them to breathe and prep them for new stain. Brick homes may be sandblasted to remove a coat of stucco or to get rid of dirt that’s settled into the pores. You may also want to sandblast a patio or concrete pad that you can no longer get clean using ordinary methods.

Generally, the size of the area you are sandblasting, as well as the type of material you are having removed will dictate the final cost of the project. The larger the project or the more difficult the material is to remove, the higher the total costs will be. The average cost to sandblast is around $2 to a square foot, but this may vary widely depending upon the grit being used and the material being removed. A 1,500 square foot home, would therefore cost an average of $3,000 to sandblast using silica sand or a comparable material like glass.

Process

While there are many different types of sand or abrasive blasting, as well as many different types of equipment that can be used to do the job, the basic principles remain the same. Grit is pressurized in a compressor and sprayed at high speeds onto the surface being cleaned or stripped. The abrasive material removes the surface particles from the area being sprayed, so things like old paint, grime, stucco 1, and other unwanted materials are pulled off the surface without use of chemical strippers or manual labor.

Wet abrasive blasting vs. dry blasting

For many years, the only type of sandblasting being carried out was dry. Dry sand or grit was sprayed directly onto the surface, with the idea being that the sand could be swept up at the end. Dry sandblasting is still used today, but many companies and professionals now also offer wet abrasive blasting, which means that water is introduced to the grit just as it leaves the nozzle. This accomplishes a few additional things:

  • The water can help keep dust down, as sand, silica, and other grit can become airborne.
  • The water helps more of the grit reach its final destination, rather than some particles splitting off in the air.
  • Pressurized water can also help clean and strip the material along with the grit.

Both methods will produce comparable results, but dry blasting is more difficult to clean up, and may lead 2 to some environmental and respiratory problems due to the airborne silica particles. Because of the cleanup costs involved, dry blasting may cost up to $1 a sq.ft. more for a total of $3 a sq.ft.

Materials and methods

While the term sandblasting is used indiscriminately, there can actually be a number of types of material and methods being used under the name. Depending upon what it is that you are having blasted, you may need to use a different media.

Because of this, and because of some of the issues that silica can cause, many professionals now use a variety of other media in place of sand to avoid exposure to the silica. This media may include agriculture options such as corn cobs or walnut hulls, or it may be made of glass, plastic, coal, copper, steel, or aluminum slag. The type of media ultimately used on your property will likely be determined by what you are having blasted, and what you are having removed.

MediaUseAverage Cost
Sand SilicaMasonry cleaning$1.60 per pound
Copper slagMasonry cleaning$4.50 per pound
Corn cobsCleaning or stripping wood$0.80 per pound
Walnut hullsCleaning or stripping wood$2 per pound
SodaRemoving graffiti$2 per pound
AcrylicUsed on soft or sensitive surfaces$4 per pound
Glass beadsUsed for burring or cleaning up edges$1.60 per pound
Aluminum oxideUsed on metal surfaces$2.30 per pound
PumiceUsed on soft wood$3 per pound
Steel gritPrepares surfaces for paint$2 per pound
Silicone carbideFor fast stripping - able to be reused to keep costs down$4 per pound


Keep in mind that the amount of media that you use is dependant on the type of equipment you spray with, whether it’s wet or dry, the size of the project, and what you are attempting to do. For example, to clean a 1,500 sq. ft. home, you may need roughly 12 pounds of media.

Hydro and dry ice blasting

Nearly all forms of sand or abrasive blasting will require cleanup when you’re done. This is because even when mixed with water, the grit will require removal from the scene when you are done, which can add as much as $1 a sq.ft. to your final costs.. Therefore, some companies offer both hydro and dry ice blasting as a cleaner alternative.

Hydroblasting uses only water under immense amounts of pressure to blast off dirt, debris, or old paint. Dry ice blasting, uses small pellets of dry ice, which evaporate as soon as they melt, leaving no mess or residue behind.

Both methods will help clean a surface with less mess than traditional sandblasting methods, although hydroblasting may be less effective at removing things like stucco 1 from masonry. Costs are comparable to sandblasting in many cases, running around $2 a square foot.

Health risk 

True sandblasting involves silica-based sand, whether wet or dry. Silica can become airborne during the cleaning process, where the particles can become inhaled. The CDC warns that inhalation of silica can result in a respiratory condition called silicosis, which can be fatal. Blasting with silica-based sand is prohibited in many countries, and professionals who use this technique must be properly trained to help prevent this issue.

In addition, sandblasting is often used to remove paint from old structures. Because so many homes and buildings used lead 2 paint prior to the late ‘70s, sandblasting may result in lead 2 dust being released into the air as well. Swallowing or breathing lead 2 dust may result in lead 2 poisoning.

Therefore, all paint should be tested for the presence of lead 2 prior to abrasive removal.

Labor

During the sandblasting process, a compressor is used to put immense pressure on the media to direct it at the area being blasted. The amount of pressure used is generally variable depending on the media and what is being removed from the material in question.

Most professionals charge per square foot, rather than per hour, with an average cost of $2 per square foot. However, for extremely involved jobs, such as area that have several layers of debris to be removed or in cases where extreme amounts of clean up need to be done, there may be an additional charge of $100 to $200 per hour.

The full scope of the work generally involves protecting all surfaces around the area being blasted up to 30 feet away. The media can cause damage to surrounding areas, so laying tarps, or taping windows may be necessary to protect the building and landscaping.

Once the sandblasting is complete, any dry media is typically swept or vacuumed up to remove it. Any remaining media after disposal is washed away with water to complete the cleanup. Since some media can be reused, it is not uncommon for some professionals to vacuum up the media from contained tarps to use again. Expect the process to take between 4 and 6 hours to complete on average.

Additional considerations and costs

  • All media has the potential to do damage to your property, particularly unprotected areas. Make sure you take precautions such as testing an area to see how it reacts, taping up windows and doors, and putting down tarps.
  • Sandblasting is very noisy and often messy. It may bother your neighbors or damage their property if they are close to you as well. Warn them ahead of time, and be sure to tarp their property if it comes within 30 feet of the job.
  • Some cities may require permits for sandblasting. Always check with your town or city hall to see what is required before you begin.
  • In some cases, you may choose to opt for another method of cleaning. Acid washing may be a reasonable alternative for cleaning some forms of metal or masonry, for example, all though it should not be used on wood surfaces, and can be more expensive at around $4 a sq.ft.
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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Stucco: A type of durable plaster finish made of aggregates, a binder, and water (traditionally Portland cement, sand, and water) used on masonry, walls, ceilings, and decorative moldings
2 Lead: A naturally occurring heavy metal that is highly toxic to humans, and has been used in paint, gasoline, piping, and other applications

Cost to sandblast a house varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Alton, IL
0%
Athens, GA
-9%
Dalton, GA
-28%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Mccall, ID
-24%
Miami, FL
+1%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
San Mateo, CA
+44%
Sarasota, FL
-8%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Stafford, NY
-16%
Washington, DC
+23%

Labor cost in your zip code

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