Remove old pain with a sandblaster before refinishing.
When you're remodeling part of a house or piece of wooden furniture, adding a new coat of paint or a fresh finish will make the piece look new again. If the piece has old paint on it, though, it can take more work. You can use a sandblaster on painted items to remove the old paint. You will have to refinish or repaint the final product, though, as sandblasters can be tough on wood surfaces.
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How Sandblasting Works
Sandblasters use pressure to clean or remove objects via a material being pushed through the sandblaster. The intense pressure forces the abrasive material against any surface and removes the paint or other coating. A sandblaster can remove paint fairly easily, though it can take longer if there are several coats.
The media used to remove the paint will vary based on your preferences. Glass beads, aluminum oxide and silica sand are all options for paint removal. An inexpensive option called black beauty — a coal slag byproduct — will work well to remove the paint without costing as much as some other options. It can also be reused as long as it is not contaminated. Aluminum oxide works well for thick paint, while glass beads do a better job on lighter paint jobs or those with only one coat. Silica sand is inexpensive and is the most basic form of sand.
Paint, especially paint on older wood surfaces, can contain lead. Before you sandblast the area, cover your eyes with goggles, and wear a mask over your mouth. Purchase tarps to hang around the work area to keep the paint and wood debris from scattering. Sweep up debris every time you use the sandblaster. If the paint contains lead, contact your local waste management agency to determine how to properly dispose of it. If your painted wood piece is small, another option is to put it in a sandblasting cabinet. This machine encloses loose material while it removes the paint, which makes for easy clean-up after sandblasting.
While sandblasting wood is highly effective at removing paint, it's hard on the wood. It will likely take off any finish that the wood has under the paint, and it could damage the wood. When you are through sandblasting, you will need to refinish the wood.