Water Blasting vs. Sandblasting: A Definitive Guide

For a paint job to look good and last a long time, the surface being painted must be cleaned beforehand, and totally free of any debris, dust or grease. Additionally, in order to get the paint to really adhere, the surface needs to be prepared so the pores on the surface are open and ready to absorb paint. In industrial settings, this preparation is done most commonly by either a water blasting or a sandblasting service in Indianapolis, IN. In this guide, we’ll explain each process, and how they differ from each other.

Water blasting

Water blasting uses pressurized water to clean the surface to be painted and to open pores in the surface to allow the paint to stick better. One of water blasting’s great strengths is that you can lower or increase the pressure of the water depending on the surface to be cleaned. This means, if it is done by a professional, you’ll never be faced with the overkill that actually cracks or harms the surface to be painted. Benefits include:

  • Water blasting is quick: One reason water blasting is popular is because it’s quick, safe, effective on lots of different surfaces, fairly eco-friendly and simple to understand.
  • It’s easy to paint the surface afterwards: Water blasting uses no chemicals, so there’s no residue to clean afterwards. Water blasting is the last step necessary before painting (after waiting for the surface to dry out, of course).
  • A word of caution: A professional can use water-blasting equipment to great effect, but when used by amateurs, it is very common to see erosion and scarring on the surface from using too much pressure in too small an area. If you’re not a professional and you’re going to use a water blasting machine to prepare a surface for painting, you should certainly educate yourself on proper technique before you get started.


There is wet sandblasting (sand propelled by steam), and dry sandblasting (sand propelled by pressurized air). In both cases, sand is propelled at a high speed at a surface and acts like sand paper, abrading and then smoothing the surface of what it blasts. Benefits of sandblasting include:

  • It’s most commonly used on metal, but good on many surfaces: Sandblasting is one of the most common ways of preparing a metal surface for painting—removing paint and rust and leaving the surface smooth. When performed by a professional sandblasting service, though, sandblasting can also be used for far more delicate cleaning processes, even just removing dirt and grease from a surface.
  • Sandblasting is less likely to cause problems than water blasting: It’s much easier than water blasting, much harder to mess up and much faster to complete. The surface that’s left behind after sand blasting is far more uniform, and far smoother, while equally porous and ready for paint.
  • Some other notes: While sandblasting has some advantages over water blasting, both types of surface preparation are useful for different surfaces and different painting projects. Keep in mind, too, that you may need a special permit from your city before you begin sandblasting. If you use a sandblasting service in Indianapolis, IN, they’ll take care of the paperwork.

If you’re interested in learning about the best way to repaint an exterior, or are looking for sandblasting and exterior painting services, please give us a call here at Knauss Property Services. We have over 27 years of experience providing painting, sandblasting, dry ice blasting and other services to customers in the Indianapolis, IN, area. Don’t hesitate—call today!