How to use a sandblaster to clean brick

Written by heather finch
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Cleaning brick by using air to blast sand on the surface of the brick works on both old and new masonry walls, and reduces damage caused by acidic reactions between brick and liquid cleaning agents. However, sandblasting brick comes with its own set of hazards, and if improperly done sandblasting can damage the surface of your wall. Before choosing sandblasting as a cleaning technique, check with the manufacturer of your brick or the masons who installed it to find the best cleaning method.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Chisel
  • Tarps
  • Portable air compressor
  • Blasting tank
  • Blasting nozzle
  • Protective clothing (including goggles and face mask)
  • Silica sand

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  1. 1

    Check your brick. If you are sandblasting a new wall, wait at least 2 weeks after it has been put up before sandblasting. You should not sandblast glazed, sanded, coated, antique or slurry-finished brick.

  2. 2

    Use your chisel to remove large chunks of mortar by hand.

  3. 3

    Cover surfaces that are not brick with your tarps to protect them from the sandblasting. You may also want to consider boarding up windows to minimise the chance of damaging them.

  4. 4

    Put on your protective clothing. Long sleeves, trousers, boots, safety goggles and a face mask are recommended to protect your skin. You may also want to wear gloves and hearing protection.

  5. 5

    Test discreet areas of the brick at different distances and angles. Aim the nozzle at the individual bricks, avoiding the mortar joints as much as possible. Finish the wall once you have found the optimal angle and distance to clean the brick.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider hiring a mason to do the job---renting or purchasing the equipment may be less expensive than hiring an expert.
  • Consider using a less abrasive material, such as a baking soda mixture, to reduce damage to brick.
  • Do not use pressure above 3000 psi, as doing so will damage your brick.

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