By Tony Carrick | Published Aug 31, 2022 10:28 AM
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A good sandblaster can make many tough jobs—including restoring antique cars, returning concrete to like-new condition, cleaning machinery, or polishing a metal surface—a quicker and easier process. By using compressed air, these powerful tools shoot media that include silica, beads, or even crushed nut shells against metal, concrete, and other surfaces at a high-enough velocity to remove rust, corrosion, and paint, leaving the area prepped and ready for a new coating.
Sandblasters range from portable, easy-to-use gravity-fed models to pressure sandblasters that blast media at a high rate of speed, so it’s important that shoppers choose one that will fit their specific needs.
Ahead, learn more about the different types of sandblasters and find out what features are important to consider when shopping for a sandblaster. Plus, check out the following models that are some of the best sandblasters on the market.
Though it may seem daunting to shoppers to figure out which is the right type of sandblaster for their needs and the best sandblaster to buy, choosing the right sandblaster for a job depends largely on the type of application. Ahead, learn about the three main types of sandblasters: gravity fed, pressure, and siphon.
A gravity-fed sandblaster consists of a spray gun with a small hopper on top that holds the sandblast media. The sandblaster attaches to a standard compressor tank, which produces the force needed to drive the media through the gun.
As the gun blasts out the media, the force of the air and gravity cause the media from the hopper to drop into the chamber. This type of sandblaster is compact and doesn’t require a large tank or bin to hold the media, often making it the best sandblaster for home use andideal for DIYers who may use a sandblaster only for occasional projects.
A pressure sandblaster comes equipped with a large pressurized 10-pound metal drum that holds the sand media. A spray gun attaches to the canister via a rubber hose. When turned on, pressure created inside the tank forces the media outward through the hose and the gun.
Since the sandblaster tank is pressurized, it is capable of blasting media at a very high speed—typically around 120 pounds per square inch (psi)—making it ideal for stripping stubborn paint, rust, and corrosion off metal and concrete surfaces.
Pressure sandblasters are also large, heavy, and expensive, so they are typically suitable for professionals who use a sandblaster on a regular basis.
A siphon system, like a pressure system, draws the sandblasting media out of a large container through a hose and out of a gun. But unlike the container in a pressure system, the container in a siphon system is not pressurized, so the gun must be attached to a compressor.
A siphon system produces similar power to that of a gravity-fed sandblaster, but its larger container allows it to run longer before the media must be refilled. A siphon system is also bulkier and costs more than a gravity-fed sandblaster.
The size and capacity of the sandblaster, as well as its working air pressure and the type of blasting media it can use, are all crucial factors to consider when shopping for the right model for a job.
Sandblasters can vary significantly in size and in the amount of media they can hold. The gun itself should be relatively small and lightweight so it’s easy to hold and manipulate while sandblasting.
Most guns are around 8 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. Because their design has the reservoir with the media attached to the gun, gravity-fed sandblasters are a little heavier and bulkier.
Capacity can vary significantly depending on the type of sandblaster. Since a gravity-fed sandblaster’s reservoir is relatively small—typically around 20 to 25 ounces—it has far less capacity than a siphon- or pressure-style sandblaster, which can hold as much as 50 pounds of media.
A sandblaster requires a certain amount of air pressure inside the tank. Most sandblasters have a range of between 60 and 125 psi. The higher the working psi, the more power a sandblaster has to strip paint, rust, and other materials. It’s important to pair a sandblaster with a compression tank that produces enough pressure to power it.
In addition to psi, the air compressor must also meet a minimum airflow rating, which is the amount of cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air that the compressor is able to move. Some air compressors require a minimum cfm of 7, while others demand a cfm rating of as high as 12.
Blasting media comes in a variety of different materials—including glass beads, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and grit—to meet the needs of the different types of sandblasting projects.
Glass beads are ideal for projects that demand a glossy finish, while baking soda is the best choice for cleaning items with a significant buildup of grime or rust. For heavy-duty blasting jobs, grit or alloy shots are usually the best choice.
Since not all blasting media is compatible with all sandblasters, it’s important to look at the sandblaster’s blasting-media-grit-size rating before purchasing it.
The list below includes gravity-fed sandblasters suitable for many home projects as well as larger siphon and pressure sandblasters for heavy-duty and professional-level sandblasting needs. One of these tools may be the perfect pick for your needs.
With a gravity-fed design that makes it easy to load and a max pressure of 150 psi, the Le Lematec sandblaster gun can be ideal for a variety of sandblasting needs. The set comes equipped with a reservoir mounted on the top with a large opening that allows for quick refills, though the small reservoir makes it suitable for mainly smaller projects.
With its 150-psi max pressure, it can remove a variety of substances, including paint, dirt, and corrosion, from surfaces such as glass, limestone, and metal. The gun also has a filter that helps prevent clogs from forming in the sandblaster nozzle, which is a common problem with many gravity-fed sandblasters.
Get the Le Lematec sandblaster on Amazon.
For those who may use a sandblaster only for the occasional project, it may not make sense to spring for an expensive model. Although this gravity-feed sandblaster from TCP Global may not have the build quality and features of other sandblasters, its low price makes it a great budget option for weekend warriors and certainly one of the best sandblasters for the money. It features a large gravity-fed reservoir that sits on top of the gun, making refills easy.
It’s compatible with a variety of blast media, including sand, beads, baking soda, or walnut shells. That versatility coupled with a working pressure of 44 to 116 psi make it suitable for various applications ranging from cleaning grime off of machinery to stripping paint. The kit includes an air-pressure gauge and two ceramic tips.
Get the TCP Global sandblaster kit on Amazon.
The build quality of Jewboer’s sandblaster is apparent at first look. The siphon-style gun is made of die-cast aluminum with a chrome finish, making the gun much sturdier than gravity-fed models with plastic construction. It also comes with a broader range of nozzles, including 5- and 6-millimeter iron nozzles as well as 4.5- and 7-millimeter ceramic nozzles, which Jewboer color codes for easy identification.
The variety of nozzles makes the Jewboer suitable for jobs that include eliminating dirt and grime, removing paint, and polishing. However, this sandblaster requires the separate purchase of a reservoir to hold the blasting media.
Get the Jewboer sandblaster on Amazon.
This sandblaster uses a reinforced mixing chamber so it can operate at a higher psi, making it suitable for heavy-duty sandblasting jobs. The Speed Blaster uses a hardened-steel mixing chamber that pushes media out through an alumina ceramic nozzle. These higher-quality materials give it the ability to operate at a working pressure from 100 to 125 psi, allowing it to blast through tough rust and corrosion better than sandblasters that operate at a lower psi.
In addition to its high pressure rating, the Speed Blaster also boasts a larger media reservoir than most gravity-fed models, which equates to fewer refills during a project. The Speed Blaster also happens to be one of the more expensive gravity-fed sandblasters on the market.
Get the Zendex Tool Corp. sandblaster on Amazon.
Its ability to reach a high psi coupled with a large media capacity make this sandblaster from RedSun ideal for those who use a sandblaster on a regular basis. The pressurized tank gives the RedSun the ability to sandblast at 125 psi, allowing it more power for bigger jobs, such as removing rust and corrosion from large objects or stripping paint from a car.
A gauge on the top of the tank makes it easy to monitor pressure. It also features a gas-water separator, ensuring the media inside the tank stays dry. Although it’s bulkier and heavier than other sandblaster types, the RedSun does come equipped with two large wheels and curved handles that make it possible to wheel in and out of position.
Get the RedSun sandblaster on Amazon.
The Performance Tool portable sandblaster kit manages to be durable and maintain a high media capacity while at the same time remaining portable. This siphon-style sandblaster consists of a 50-pound hopper made of high-grade plastic. A molded handle at the top of the sandblaster coupled with built-in storage for the hose and gun allows users to carry it around.
The hopper attaches to a sturdy aluminum gun that operates at 90 psi, which, though lower than the psi of pressure sandblasters, is high for a siphon blaster. This makes it suitable for a variety of jobs, including removing paint and corrosion. It’s compatible with most abrasive media, including silica, sand, glass beads, and steel grit.
Get the Performance Tool sandblaster on Amazon.
This siphon sandblaster features a versatile design that makes it compatible with a variety of different media types. The gun works with glass beads, steel grit, aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and even walnut shells. And while it won’t match the high-working psi of other sandblaster types, it produces a precise stream of media that makes it suitable for craft work, such as etching glass or weathering wood.
It’s also useful for other light-duty jobs, such as removing rust and corrosion from small parts and equipment. The kit comes with a gun and a 10-foot hose but requires the purchase of a reservoir for the media.
Get the Campbell Hausfeld sandblaster on Amazon.
With an affordable price and a design that makes it simple to use without the need for heavy tanks or reservoirs, the Le Lematec sandblaster is ideal for sandblasting projects around most typical homes.
Those looking for a professional-grade sandblaster may want to consider the RedSun sandblaster, which features a large pressurized media tank and can operate at a pressure of 125 psi.
We considered a variety of criteria when selecting the list of top sandblasters. Sandblasting needs vary. There are DIYers who may use a sandblaster from time to time for different projects, and there are professionals who may use a sandblaster on a regular basis. With that in mind, we included gravity-fed models that offer enough power for most home projects while being easy to use and store. We also included higher-end siphon and pressure models that are capable of holding more media to handle bigger jobs while producing higher pressure for removing stubborn rust and paint.
Versatility is an important quality in a sandblaster, so we chose models that are compatible with a variety of different blasting media. Finally, we also stuck with sandblaster guns that are lightweight and easy to handle while still being durable enough to endure regular use.
Knowing what type of media to use when operating a sandblaster is crucial to employing it safely and effectively. Ahead, learn more about sandblaster media and other important information regarding these tools.
Sandblasters prep surfaces for a new coating by propelling media against a surface under high pressure, removing dirt, rust, paint, or other stuck-on material.
No. In fact, using real sand is a major respiratory hazard. Using sand that has more than 1 percent free silica can cause silicosis, which is a very serious scarring or hardening of the lungs that can be fatal.
Subfreezing conditions are not ideal for sandblasting. Sandblasting creates condensation inside the gun that can freeze, clogging the gun.
The best media to use for sandblasting is silicon carbide. This is the hardest material you can use to sandblast, making it the media of choice for removing stubborn rust and old paint from objects.
If you’re removing rust from a material that can be potentially damaged by sandblasting, such as aluminum, use glass beads, walnut shells, or plastic media, which will remove the rust but won’t damage the metal. A good blasting media for harder materials such as steel or iron is glass beads or aluminum oxide.
Rather than considering how big of a sandblaster you need, it’s better to consider what type. A gravity-fed sandblaster is affordable, easy to use, and compact, making it ideal for those who may use a sandblaster only occasionally.
Pros or those using a sandblaster regularly may want to consider a siphon- or gravity-style sandblaster, which offers higher capacity and greater sandblasting pressure for heavy-duty jobs.
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