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It’s not uncommon for householders to leave their outdoor furniture outside throughout the year. Let’s assume that your outdoor custom-made metal braai and ornate wrought-iron benches have spent a few winters outside in the elements because you did not have the room to bring them indoors. Now that summer is finally on its way, you are starting to gear up for the weekend outdoor lifestyle which is such a South African tradition, and you are keen to get everything ready for the fun. Instead of finding your braai and benches just needing a quick clean, you are disconcerted to find them with rust spots bubbling the smooth surface and the paint beginning to peel from your benches. Your prized swimming pool is also looking grubby and unappealing. This is NOT a quick clean, and you know that it will take days of back-breaking sanding, preparation and painting to get them back into pristine condition, and it is time which you simply do not have available. What can you do? Call in the sandblasting and coating specialists to sort the matter out quickly and efficiently.
Sandblasting - or abrasive blasting - is the process of cleaning, shaping and smoothing various hard surfaces by forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material across surfaces at high speeds using compressed air or pressurised liquid, depending on the application. One could say that it is similar to a moving high velocity and very flexible wall of sandpaper but provides a more even finish. Sandblasting is easily able to remove dirt, corrosion, paint, rust and residue from oxidation, even in hard-to-reach areas which otherwise would require hours of extremely finicky hand-work. Materials which can be sandblasted include glass, stone, metal, wood, plastic, steel, aluminium, brass and silver.
On-site sandblasting is often seen in shipyards, steel construction, power stations, oil refineries, silos, and offshore oil rigs, and also in blasting yards themselves. Smaller, more portable and intricate items can be worked on in a sandblasting cabinet designed to protect the user’s eyes, face and hands when working. In these cabinets air and sand are mixed and then travel through a hand-held nozzle to direct the particles towards the work surface or work piece.
Sandblasting can occur naturally, usually as a result of particles blown by wind causing aeolian erosion, or artificially, as mentioned above. As a cleaning method, sandblasting has been widely used for approximately a hundred and fifty years, so it has been around for a long time, being patented by an American, Benjamin Chew Tilghman, on 18 October 1870.
Sandblasting is extremely versatile in that it can either smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface and remove surface contaminants. Sandblasting itself has several different processes under its umbrella, such as bead blasting, soda blasting and shot blasting.
There are two types of sandblasting processes, being :
This medium is used on metals such as stainless steel, aluminium and brass in order to clean and polish softer metals which would not be able to withstand normal sand or shotblasting without resulting damage;
All of the above media come in different sized particles, ranging from fine to rough, to ensure a good surface for the coating to adhere to and, apart from sand, have a very low dust content.
Once metals have been stripped down to their bare basics, it is important to quickly prime and add a protective coating to prevent rust, which will rapidly take hold in humid conditions. The coating is often a paint specifically designed for metal with a rust inhibitor or repellent, but it may well often be done through a specialised process called powder coating. Alternatively, a polyurea spray coating may be applied, which is aimed at preventing corrosion, providing a waterproof lining to pipes, tanks, roofs, etc. Polyurea coatings are also abrasion resistant and protect against impact damage.
Powder coating involves spraying a fine electrostatically charged plastic powder onto the metal surface, which must be able to hold an electrostatic charge, and then baking this in a special oven at very high temperatures, which melts the powder onto the metal and creates a beautiful smooth finish. Because of the high temperatures involved in this ‘curing’ period, not all items can be subjected to this process – for instance, any metal items which are coated with or contain plastic, resin or rubber. Metals which achieve good results from this process are : aluminium, stainless steel, mild steel, galvanised steel, electroplated steel, steel alloys and iron.
For the purposes of durability, powder coating is not always recommended over paint for furniture and articles which are intended for year-round use outdoors. If the powder coating is damaged or begins to wear, the article has to be stripped and cleaned and the whole coating process has to be repeated, which means that the item/s involved must be portable enough to be taken to the curing ovens which are not removable from their premises. Powder coating’s strength lies in its resistance to cracking, chipping, abrasion, peeling, rust and chemical exposure damage. It is highly durable, maintains its colour and gloss, provides a uniform finish, withstands UV rays excellently and is more environmentally friendly than traditional liquid paint. Therefore, it is excellent for items such as tables, chairs, bikes, and other movable items, but not such a great choice for permanent fencing, for instance.
A steadily increasing number of these specialists are becoming visible through internet searches, with many having their own interactive websites. If you are looking online, search sites such as Uptasker are great time-saving resources, and Uptasker has the added advantage of listing in geographical areas which makes it easier to find a specialist in your part of the country. Uptasker also provides online ratings and customer reviews which make it so much easier to judge service and quality satisfaction levels from previous customers. A great time-saving feature is the ability to request various online quotes from different suppliers – all without leaving your house or having them call on you if time is a problem for you.
If you prefer, you can also check for advertisements in building, house and home magazines and catalogues, visit home expos, ask building contractors, or check the Yellow Pages and newspapers for these specialists. Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to have friends who have used one of these specialists with good results, and you can find your supplier in this way.
Why use old-fashioned, time-consuming and individual labour-intensive methods when refurbishing both indoor and outdoor items around your home, whether movable or fixed? Instead of hours or days of back-breaking and irritating sanding and painting metal furniture and outdoor appliances like braais, metal fire pits or chimineas, do yourself a favour and call in the specialists who can remove the burden from your shoulders and do the job in half the time and with far better professional results. For more tips, see our sandblasting and coating specialist articles.