Is Sandblasting Safe for My Classic Car?

Occasionally we get questions from people about the use of sandblasting for nontraditional applications, such as coating classic cars. It’s understandable to wonder if such a process is safe for use on classic vehicles, or if it will end up doing more damage than good.

So, is sandblasting safe for your classic car? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no,” but a “sometimes.” Here’s some more information from a provider of powder coating services in Washington to help you better understand the effect sandblasting could have on your classic vehicle.

The sandblasting process

For starters, you’ll never have any problem sandblasting the frame of your vehicle—that is totally fine. The true debate centers on whether sandblasting the body or any of the vehicle’s panels is a safe process. There are some people who have been doing it for decades, but others who subscribe to the belief that it is unnecessarily risky to do.

Whatever you decide, it is important to remember that sandblasting your body and panels does come with an inherent risk of creating more metal and body work that you’ll need to perform during your restoration. This is due to the heat that emanates from the sandblaster—it could very well warp the panels, which means you’ll need to repair that damage.

The repairs in such circumstances can be complex. You might need to add some body fill to make up for the damage you’ve caused to the vehicle’s body.

Alternative coating processes

All this being said, sandblasting isn’t the only option you have available. There are other options, including:

  • Dustless or water-based blasting: In this blasting process, you use water, an abrasive of your choice (most commonly glass) and a rust inhibitor. Using this process allows you to clean surfaces without having to worry about the metal warping or rusting. Unlike sandblasting, you won’t have to worry about an excess amount of heat, because the water will actually cool the metal. The rust inhibitor then prevents the metal from flash rusting. Once you’re done with this process, simply spray the vehicle with an attachment and dry it off with a leaf blower. You can then paint immediately if you don’t have any bodywork to perform.
  • Soda blasting: Soda blasting will give you similar results to water-based blasting, but there are some complications with the cleaning process. For example, if you fail to appropriately clean the sprayer, you could find yourself dealing with severe paint problems.
  • Acid dipping: You can have the metal on your vehicle acid dipped, though this process is not always widely available, which means there’s a chance it won’t be particularly cost effective. There might also be limitations depending on the size of your vehicle.
  • Grinding: You can use a wire brush and perform the process manually, but it will be extremely time consuming and exhausting. You’ll need a high-amp grinder for this process.

For more information about sandblasting your classic cars, contact your local source for powder coating services in Washington.