Sandblasting is a high-risk occupation that is fraught with numerous health hazards. These hazards include silicosis, which is an incurable lung disease that is caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica. It is estimated that approximately 2 million workers in the United States are exposed to crystalline silica in the workplace, and more than 100,000 of these workers are involved in high-risk occupations like sandblasting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, silicosis was either the underlying or a contributing cause of over 2,000 deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2013.
The hazardous nature of sandblasting makes it important for you to always employ the services of a professional sandblasting contractor nearby to handle any sandblasting projects that you may have. Hiring a professional sandblasting contractor ensures that the job is done in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's national standards. These include its respiratory protection and occupational noise exposure standards.
The following questions are designed to help you make the right decision when hiring a professional sandblasting contractor near you:
Are You a Licensed Sandblasting Contractor?
Professional licensing is a requirement for sandblasting contractors. However, many states have varying requirements for issuing these licenses. For example, the State of Michigan requires all sandblasting contractors to obtain a state-issued sandblasting license. California requires all contractors to obtain a license for any project that is worth more than $500 and it issues specific sand and water blasting contractors' licenses to sandblasting contractors, while Arkansas requires sandblasting contractors to obtain a general contractors license for any project worth more than $2,000. In Maryland and Connecticut, sandblasting contractors are required to obtain home improvement licenses. Due to these varying requirements, it is advisable that you contact your local consumer protection agency or your local health and environmental protection agency to find out the licensing requirements for sandblasting contractors in your locality. It is also a good idea to verify the licenses of any contractor near you that you wish to hire. You can do this through the licensing information website provided and maintained by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.
Are You Bonded and Insured?
It is estimated that about 59,000 of the over one million workers occupationally exposed to crystalline silica annually eventually end up with silicosis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 642 of the workplace fatalities recorded in 2019 were caused by exposure to such harmful substances or environments.
Hiring a sandblasting contractor near you that is insured is important because it protects you from any liabilities that may arise if a workplace injury or illness occurs as a direct result of your sandblasting project. As such, you should only hire contractors that are properly insured. Make sure that your sandblasting contractor has general liability and workers' compensation insurance plans. Also ensure you verify the validity of these plans by requesting a copy of the contractor's certificates of insurance.
In addition to insurance, you should also make sure that your sandblasting contractor is bonded. Bonding protects you from any liabilities if your sandblasting project is not done in line with the terms of agreement reached between you and the contractor. Request for a copy of your sandblasting contractor's bonding certificate and make sure that it is valid. Many states also have minimum bonding requirements for contractors, so it is a good idea to contact your local consumer protection agency to find out what they may be for your state of residence.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
The terms sandblasting and abrasive blasting are often used interchangeably. They both refer to the process of using an abrasive material to clean and descale surfaces, sometimes in preparation for other activities like repainting. Different types of media are used for sandblasting. They include:
- Silica sand â€“ this is commonly used for scraping or shearing surfaces. It is also referred to as quartz, silica, or silicon dioxide. Silica sand has sharp edges that remove surface impurities and gives the surface a clean look. However, these edges also make it one of the most hazardous types of sandblasting materials because they increase the risk of lung and respiratory problems if inhaled
- Glass beads â€“ this can be used on a variety of surfaces to remove rust, scales, and other surface imperfections. Glass beads generally offer a cleaner, brighter, and softer finish than other sandblasting mediums
- Steel â€“ this media comes in different forms like steel grit, steel balls, and steel bristles. Steel grit is used to clean off rust and corrosion from hard metal surfaces, steel balls are commonly used for peening purposes, while steel bristles are mostly used on harsh surfaces to clean difficult burrs or corrosion. Steel media can be used for blasting and scraping and it leaves a smooth finish. Its fast cutting effect makes it effective for preparing thick surfaces for painting
- Soda â€“ this media is mostly used on delicate materials. Soda sandblasting provides a cleansing effect on many soft metals without damaging their outer layer or chemically reacting to them
- Corn cobs â€“ this media is made by crushing the dense woody rings of corn cobs into granular forms of various grit sizes. Corn cob sandblasting is a soft form of sandblasting and is commonly used to remove debris or graffiti from wood, brick, or stone. It is can also be used on jewelry, cutlery, engine parts, and fiberglass
- Walnut shells â€“ walnut shells sandblasting is used to clean and polish surfaces that cannot be cleaned by softer media but could incur damage from harsher sandblasting media
- Aluminum oxide â€“ aluminum oxide sandblasting can be used for pressure blasting a wide range of substrate materials and surfaces like glass, steel, marble, and granite. This type of sandblasting is commonly used to prepare surfaces for coating or painting
- Plastic â€“ this media is generally used for sandblasting plastic surfaces, mold cleaning, and surfaces that require their substrate material to remain intact. Plastic sandblasting media is usually made from crushed urea, acrylic, or polyester, and it is available in varying ranges of hardness and particle size.
Always find out whether the sandblasting contractor near you you intend to hire is adept at handling the type of sandblasting medium that is suited to the surface you want to be blasted or cleaned.
Who Will Do the Work?
The number of workers required for sandblasting depends on the scale of work involved. In many cases, you will require only one sandblasting contractor to handle a residential sandblasting project. Notwithstanding, you should always confirm this number from your contractor. Find out the number of workers that will be required to properly handle your job and make sure that each worker is licensed, insured, and bonded. It is also a good idea to find out whether these additional workers' involvement would affect the total cost of the project.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Always ask any contractor that you intend to hire whether you will be given a warranty after the job is concluded. A warranty is a written, oral, or implied guarantee that is offered after a product or service has been paid for. Professional sandblasting contractors near you would not hesitate from issuing workmanship warranties to their clients. A workmanship warranty guarantees you that the work done by the contractor was done in the best way possible.
Note that a warranty can be voided if its terms and conditions are not followed. As such, you should always request a written copy of the warranty and ensure that all its conditions are stipulated clearly.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
You should always find out whether your sandblasting project requires a permit. One of the reasons you should always hire professional contractors is that they generally know the types of jobs that require permits and the processes for pulling these permits. A permit is a government-issued approval that you have to obtain before you can carry out certain home improvement projects. Whether or not you will require a permit for sandblasting and the requirements and procedures for obtaining these permits, largely depends on your location. For example, the Cities of Santa Monica, California, and Boston, Massachusetts require permits for any sandblasting conducted there. Louisiana requires a state-level permit for any outdoor sandblasting conducted in the state, while Vermont does not.
Note that even though some states either issue or do not issue state-level permits, local-level permits may still be required. As such, even though your sandblasting contractor may already have this information, it is always a good idea to contact the local health and environmental protection agency office near you to find out the specific permit requirements for your area of residence. You can also contact your local building department to get this information.
Will You Provide References?
Before you hire a sandblasting contractor, request a list of references from the contractor. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that this list should contain the names and contact details of not less than three of the contractor's previous clients. You should never hire any sandblasting contractor that hesitates to provide you with references. On the other hand, you can also source for reviews of clients near you on the sandblasting contractor independently. One way to do this is by using the services of a third-party website like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Review that allows people to post reviews and opinions on contractors that they have previously hired or worked with.
Do You Have a Business License?
A business is referred to as a small business if it employs less than 500 people. Over 99% of the business entities in the United States fall into this category. Before these businesses can legally operate in an area, they are generally required to obtain a business license. Always find out whether a sandblasting contractor has a valid business license before employing the contractor to handle your sandblasting project.
Note that business licenses are different from professional licenses. The former are issued to business entities while the latter are issued to individuals. You can verify the authenticity of your contractor's business license through the Office of the Secretary of State in your area of residence.Â
What Are Common Sandblasting Problems?
Attempting a DIY sandblasting or hiring an unprofessional or inexperienced sandblasting contractor can result in several problems. These problems include:
- Damage to the surface due to using the wrong sandblasting medium
- Improper sandblasting due to using the wrong type of blaster
- Injuries and illnesses due to lack of adequate safety precautions
You can avoid these problems by hiring a professional sandblasting contractor to handle any sandblasting project that you have.
How Much Does Sandblasting Cost?
The total cost of sandblasting generally depends on the size of the surface you want to sandblast. In the United States, sandblasting contractors typically charge an average of $2 - $5 per square foot of surface that is sandblasted.
Some common sandblasting cost estimates are:
Cost by sandblasting media per pound:
Cost by surface type per square foot:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Sandblasting?
The cost of sandblasting is primarily affected by the size of the surface that is to be sandblasted and the type of media used. Smaller surfaces cost less than larger surfaces, while media like corn cobs and silica are generally cheaper than silicon carbide and acrylic. Professional sandblasting contractors typically charge a fee of $2 - $5 per square foot of surface sandblasted. However, some contractors may charge a per hour rate, which is usually between $40 and $80. Note, hiring a sandblaster near you may help reduce cost due to limited travel expenses and knowledge of the local market around.
What Qualifications Should Sandblasting Contractors Have?
Although there are no mandatory educational requirements for sandblasting, many sandblasting contractors typically have either a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most sandblasting contracting firms generally require their contractors to undergo mandatory training and safety courses before assigning jobs to them. Professional sandblasting contractors can also obtain certifications from trade associations like the Society for Protective Coatings. Note that the Environmental Protection Agency requires all contractors that wish to carry out work on apartments, child-occupied facilities, and houses built before 1978 to undergo a mandatory training and certification course.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Sandblasting Contractor?
Sandblasting is a hazardous job that can have serious health effects if it is not done properly. Therefore, you should always hire a professional sandblasting contractor to handle your sandblasting jobs. Unlike handymen near you, sandblasting contractors are trained and equipped with the necessary tools to perform sandblasting safely. Professional sandblasting contractors are also more likely to be licensed, insured, and bonded, thereby shielding you from any unforeseen financial liabilities that may arise because of the job.
What Are the Common Post Sandblasting Expenses?
Sandblasting is generally a cleaning and preparation procedure. As such, any post sandblasting expense you may incur is usually the cost of carrying out the action that you were preparing the surface for. In many cases, this usually involves applying a fresh coat of paint, which costs an average of $3 - $7 per square foot. Note that this cost will not be included in your sandblasting fee. However, you can ask your sandblasting contractor whether they also offer painting services. It is also advisable to apply a rust inhibitor if a wet sandblasting medium was used on a metallic surface. Applying a rust inhibitor can cost you an additional $10 - $25.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Sandblasting Expenses?
Sandblasting is generally considered a maintenance procedure, and therefore it is not typically covered by standard homeowners' insurance policies. Homeowners' insurance is a form of insurance that provides financial protection against sudden and unexpected losses and damages to your property. The exact damages that a homeowner's insurance policy covers vary by insurance companies. However, they typically include damages from fires, lightning, water, wind, hail, and theft. It is estimated that these types of damages accounted for over 90% of all the insurance claims filed in the United States in 2018. Therefore, it is advisable that you always have a clear idea of the types of damages that an insurance company will cover before you purchase a homeowner's insurance policy from them.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Sandblasting Contractor?
With the recent advancement in electronic payment and the advantages it offers, sandblasting contractors near you, like most businesses today, would accept digital payments. When compared with other forms of payments, digital payments have been found to be faster, safer, and generally more convenient. These features have increased their popularity amongst many Americans. However, not all contractors have embraced digital payments. Therefore, you should always find out your sandblasting contractor's preferred method of payment before initiating a transaction. Also, it is a good idea to collect a receipt of payment for any cash transactions that take place between you and your sandblasting contractor.