How Does Shot-Blasting Work?

by | Feb 2, 2018 | Surface preparation

Preparing your concrete subflooring to accept new flooring or to clear it of old substrates in preparation for polishing requires some significant work. Good old-fashioned elbow grease isn’t likely to strip concrete of its previous adhesives and mastics. Fortunately, the industry has produced equipment that is efficient at doing this job day after day. Perhaps one of the most popular options for cleaning a concrete surface is known as shot-blasting.

Have you ever wondered why this might be necessary? Many homeowners or property managers may wonder how exactly these machines work and why they’re so efficient compared to other methods. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at exactly what shot-blasting is and how the right tools can help.

Before we get too far, we need to mention that only a professional company should be responsible for shot-blasting your subflooring. This isn’t a machine that should be rented to the average layperson, as it can cause serious damage to your subflooring when used improperly. Companies like TCF West have had decades to perfect their shot-blasting skills before working on your commercial or residential project.

If your contractor suggests that your property may need to be shot-blasted, you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What is Shot-Blasting?

Shot-blasting can be used for a variety of purposes. In most situations, it is used to clean a preexisting concrete subflooring that may have had flooring or some type of surface preparation applied in the past. It provides a one-step solution to get rid of traces of any old adhesives, stains, or paints while simultaneously profiling the concrete.

Shot-blasting has a number of advantages, which we will cover in greater detail later. However, it should be noted here that it leaves the subfloor completely dry and ready to be worked on upon completion. It is rather environmentally-friendly because it doesn’t produce much dust or debris.

Overall, shot-blasting is an extremely popular way to prepare a project ready for the future and correct past mistakes. There are some limitations to what it can remove though. For example, very rubbery mastics or elastic coatings can be too tough for a shot-blaster to effectively eliminate. In these instances, the shot could actually bounce off the surface while doing very little to remove the coating.

How Does a Shot-Blaster Work?

A shot-blaster is an actual machine that a qualified contractor can use to strip away the top layer of concrete and any contaminants. Contractors usually have a choice between a walk-behind machine and a ride-on shot-blaster. However, they both work in a very similar manner. When the machines are used properly, there is very little risk to the contractor’s health.

A machine will frequently use paddle blades that will propel the abrasives toward the surface of the concrete. As it moves forward, the abrasive is responsible for eating away the top layer of the concrete along with anything that may be stuck to it. This includes adhesive, old paint, extreme dirt build-up and more. A blast chamber often contains the dust that is accumulated from the abrasive nature of the process.

Contractors may have many choices when it comes to abrasives used for shot-blasting. The most popular choice is usually sand, but you may find some contractors who use chilled iron, glass beads, or garnet. Steel shot is also a very common selection for this process.

The final decision regarding which abrasive should be used is best determined by the type of concrete you need to clean. For example, chilled iron may be too abrasive for a softer surface and could result in dents that are too deep for future flooring applications.

Advantages of Shot-Blasting

Shot-blasting is an extremely efficient process, which is why many contractors like to utilize it in place of methods like grinding. Depending on the machine type, you may be able to clean and profile up to 3,000 square feet per hour. This is an excellent option for large industrial spaces that have heavy grease build-up and need to be cleaned quickly before getting back to business.

Furthermore, this process produces little to no dust compared to some other methods of cleaning the concrete. It is ideal for any area that will need more stringent air quality standards or for clients who are very concerned about the environmental effects of their construction process. There are no chemicals involved in the process, which automatically makes the process more environmentally-friendly.

Because there is no cleanup involved from the process itself, shot-blasting leaves the project ready to move forward extremely quickly. There’s no need to wait for the subflooring to dry out or for chemicals to soak in. With most projects, the floors are ready for recoating almost immediately upon the completion of shot-blasting.

The reason many contractors like to use this method is that it automatically adds more texture to the surface of the concrete. A textured surface often means better adhesion with a new flooring surface or adhesive. In essence, shot-blasting gives you a surface with less risk of flooring failure due to adhesive or coating mishaps. It can also produce a beautiful surface or design for future coatings.

The major advantage for contractors who are on a strict budget is the cost. Shot-blasting requires less time to complete, and every builder knows that time is ultimately money. Not only that, but the actual consumable portion required with shot-blasting (typically sand or steel shot) is going to be less expensive than some other methods.

Overall, shot-blasting offers a large benefit to contractors and property owners who are concerned with a tight deadline and strict budget. It’s eco-friendly and makes short work of a tough-to-clean area. Be certain to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced contractor who is trained in shot-blasting to get the maximum benefit from this technique.


Technical Concrete Finishes

CEOMichael Rosenblat

With over 20 years in the field of technical concrete finishes, I offer a deep experience and precision in design and application of concrete floors. As founder of TCF West, I lead my team in crafting durable, aesthetically striking industrial floors. In this blog, I share industry insights to help elevate your space through quality flooring. Let’s connect to transform your environment with custom floors that meet your needs.