Last Updated on
Benjamin Franklin said: “nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes”.
I’d like to say:
Nothing is certain in this world but rust and bad paint jobs.
When you run into rust or a bad paint job, a sandblaster may end up becoming your best friend.
In this article, we’ll arm you with the knowledge to find the best sandblaster for your needs.
And as always, we’ve got some good ones picked out for your convenience.
Let's dive right into it...
Performance tool M549
(Best for the money)
Speedblaster Gravity Feed
S&H Industries 40017
(Best for industrial sandblasting)
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING A SANDBLASTER
Sandblasting is a specialized process for specialized jobs.
It involves shooting tiny particles (like sand) at a surface to clean it.
And is used in a variety of applications, from removing rust and paint to historical restoration projects!
It goes without saying:
When it comes to sandblasting, there’s really no “one-size-fits-all” solution, which is why it’s important to do your research beforehand.
But that’s why you’re here!
Let’s start with media:
It may be called “sandblasting”, but in reality there are many types of particle you can use (called the sandblasting “medium/media”).
More abrasive media is suited to heavy duty jobs like rust removal, and the softest media can be found in the semiconductor and aerospace industries.
Here’s a quick and dirty list, from least abrasive media to most:
Baking soda - gentle, good for mold, smoke damage (cleans and deodorizes).
Walnut shells - soft, environmentally friendly.
Glass beads - give a soft, rounded finish. Can be recycled up to 30 times.
Plastic beads - great for stripping paint from cars; don’t damage underlying material.
Steel shot - rough, gives a special finish, can be reused 3,000 times.
Silicon carbide - brutal, for the heavy jobs.
Think about how much force you’ll need for your project.
Removing paint from a window frame will require less abrasion than removing rust from a cruise ship.
It’s a good idea to start gentle, and then go up from there.
Keep your media as dry as possible, as wet media will clog your sandblaster.
For a deep-dive on more media and their applications, check out this article
Sandblasters are a duet:
We’ve got some sandblaster recommendations below which we think you’ll like.
But don’t be fooled:
you’ll need a separate air compressor as well.
The air compressor does the heavy lifting of actually propelling the particles out of the sandblaster hose.
We like to make sure our compressor can provide 30-50% more PSI than the working pressure of our sandblaster.
If you use more air than your compressor can provide, the blasting pressure will weaken, and your sandblasting will suffer.
Nozzles: the business end of the blaster:
Sandblaster nozzles come in a variety of sizes and materials.
The best nozzles are made from badass materials like tungsten or boron carbide.
Basically, the better the nozzle resists abrasion, the longer it will last.
There are three or so classes of nozzle:
Steel nozzles - are cheap and wear down easily, especially with more abrasive media.
Ceramic nozzles - are a step up, a good middle ground, with better durability. They’re also somewhat brittle.
The best of the best are tungsten and boron carbide.
With nozzles, size matters:
Bigger nozzles will disperse more media and make your sandblaster more effective.
However, they also use more air. If you don’t have the airflow necessary for a big nozzle, your sandblasting pressure will suffer.
Small nozzles are great for smaller scale, more delicate blasting. If you’ve got a weaker air compressor, a smaller nozzle will serve you well.
Sandblasters kick up a ton of dust. Work outside, be careful, and always wear a good respirator to protect your lungs.
Inhaling too much silica dust can lead to a medical condition called “silicosis”.
Basically, the particles build up in your lungs and never leave. It’s terrifying. People die from it every year.
Safety goggles and gloves are a plus as well.
Top 5 Sandblaster For Professional & DIY’ers
1. Black Bull SFSB90 - Best Overall
Jumping out of the ring, a beast roars...
The Black Bull lives up to its name. It’s big, it’s angry, it gets the job done.
The Black Bull maxes out at 120psi, and uses 7CFM (cubic feet per minute) at 80psi. They also recommend that you use 80 grit or smaller media, though some have gotten away with 60 grit without the blaster clogging.
That’s a lot of nozzles...
With 4 different-sized ceramic nozzles, the Black Bull covers a wide range of applications. It is, in a word, accommodating.
We love having multiple nozzle options.
Larger nozzles will accommodate higher airflow from stronger air compressors.
Smaller nozzles can cover for weak air compressors.
Ceramic is a great, relatively durable material for these nozzles at this price point.
The Black Bull could just as easily have come with a single steel nozzle.
Some bells and whistles:
Wheels are always a plus, even though this sandblaster isn’t really that heavy on it’s own.
Steel construction is sturdy and will last a long time.
One thirsty bull...
This boy can drink. Make sure your air compressor can accommodate the demanding airflow of this sandblaster, especially for bigger jobs.
A blaster that won’t be tamed:
Our favorite sandblaster on this list, we love that the Black Bull comes with 4 ceramic nozzles. It’s got a large holding capacity at 90lbs for your big blasting jobs. Rubber wheels ensure portability too.
Just make sure you’ve got an air compressor that can handle the Bull’s horns.
2. Performance Tool M549 - Best for the money
With a convenient handheld design:
We really like the portability of this small sandblaster from Performance Tool. It can hold a respectable amount of media, but won’t break the bank.
Less thirsty than the Black Bull...
...the air requirement on this sandblaster is a moderate 3.5cfm at 50psi. A more moderate ask, this machine will accommodate a much wider range of air compressors than the Black Bull.
Being our budget pick, it just wouldn’t make any sense if this sandblaster needed a $600+ air compressor to go with it.
Ceramic, ceramic, ceramic:
This sandblaster includes a single ceramic nozzle which is a definite plus. It doesn’t come with any extras, but they’ve got nozzle replacements readily available on Amazon.
Nozzles, even the best, will eventually degrade.
It’s good to know where to get your replacements and maybe even stock up on a few before they wear out.
Though this blaster is highly portable...
...it can still lug around up to 50lbs of your favorite sandblasting media. This should be more than enough for most small to medium scale projects.
The weakness is the weakness:
This sandblaster isn’t too powerful. Use fine grain media, make absolutely sure it isn’t wet. Many people had issues with this one clogging up.
If it were up to me, this would be my first sandblaster. It’s a good way to dip your toes into the world of sandblasting without breaking the bank.
It’s big, it’s got a ceramic nozzle, and won’t take up too much space in the shop.
3. SpeedBlaster Gravity Feed - Best Gun
A neat little handheld blaster:
The SpeedBlaster sits right in your hand like a glue gun. It’s got a little tank on top for media and works great for getting into hard-to-reach places.
Working from 70-100psi...
...we recommend having an air compressor with a minimum of three horsepower.
Another ceramic nozzle...
...nothing to complain about here. If you’re using silicon carbide for blasting it may wear quickly, but plastic beads or walnuts will keep this nozzle intact for a long time.
Our favorite thing about this sandblaster...
...is the size. At just 14oz empty, this thing weighs less than a six pack of hot dogs.
The SpeedBlaster was designed with the hobbyist in mind. Decorative glass etching and other small projects.
The best part?
The SpeedBlaster is Made in America.
Don’t become disillusioned:
This isn’t a sandblaster for big jobs. That being the case, you may be better off getting a larger machine that can also do small jobs.
If you decide the SpeedBlaster is for you, make sure you won’t be doing larger jobs.
It’s easy to underestimate this blaster...
...at first, I thought it would be the “Easy Bake Oven” of sandblasters.
But rest assured:
This is a fully capable sandblaster. It’ll strip rust, erase paint, etch glass, whatever. Just don’t try anything too large scale, or you’ll be disappointed.
4. S&H Industries 40017 - Best for Industrial Sandblasting
An All-American allstar:
S&H has got a solid sandblaster here that stands out from the rest.
This blaster will definitely need a high-capacity air compressor.
With three nozzles...
...but they’re made of steel.
I know we’ve ragged on steel nozzles in this article, but they’re not as bad as they sound. Let me backpedal.
I really like that this blaster comes with three different sized nozzles. That lets me use pretty much any size media I want, and also a range of air compressors.
Steel will break down if you use it with more abrasive media.
But if you stick to softer media like plastic beads, walnut shells, or baking soda, you’ll be just fine.
Potentially overlooked but still important:
This sandblaster is backed by a two-year warranty AND is Made in USA. That’s two guarantees that I think really speak to the quality of this blaster.
Make sure you know what you’re doing...The S&H does require some assembly. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of sandblasting in general before you give it a go.
A great contender...
This S&H sandblaster will work for most medium-large jobs. The variety of nozzles will let you use many media of many sizes for your sandblasting.
Made in the USA makes us really happy on this one.
This sandblaster won’t let you down:
This is the boyfriend with a stable accounting 9-5 job. It’s not the most glamorous, but it’s capacity and construction make it very reliable.
Another high-capacity blaster...
...you’ll need a high-capacity air compressor to go with this one. This blaster works between 60-125psi. We recommend an 80 gallon compressor (or higher).
Goplus adds nozzles:
The blaster comes with a total of four (presumably steel) nozzles. 3/32”, 7/64”, 1/8”, and 9/64”.
We’ve said it earlier in the article, but nozzle variety really is a plus when it comes to sandblasters. It opens up your options of different media, different grit sizes, and different levels of air compression.
At 55 pounds, a heavy unit, but...
...6” rubber wheels will make it a breeze to wheel this blaster around.
The “Ol’ Reliable” of sandblasters...
This Goplus brand blaster isn’t the sexiest machine, nor does it have the best nozzles. It wins on it’s capacity, making it a good choice for more serious sandblasting.
So, The Winner Is...
We gotta give it to the Black Bull.
The Bull comes with four high-quality ceramic nozzles, and has a huge media capacity to boot. It knocks every other sandblaster on this list out of the park on nozzles alone.
The nozzle is truly the most important part of the sandblaster. Everything happens at the nozzle.
Ceramic nozzles won’t wear down so quickly, and the fact that the Black Bull comes with four high quality nozzles is impossible to ignore.
Just make sure that you’ve got an air compressor that can handle the beast.
1. J. Lang Wood How to Choose Sandblasting Media, eHow.
2. Your Guide to Buying a Sandblaster, eBay. March 3, 2016
3. Jack Smith How to choose the right sandblasting media, SlideShare. January 15, 2015
4. Gerry Masterman Media Blasting and Air Compressors Explained, The MG Experience. January 26, 2012
5. How Do I Choose Sandblasting Material? wiseGEEK.
6. Ashley Poskin How I Moved & Refinished This Clawfoot Tub (And Lived To Tell The Tale), Apartment Therapy. May 23, 2016.
7. How to Strip Paint From Your Car, wikiHow.8. Abrasive Blasting, Wikipedia. October 25, 2016.