If you're looking for a hands-on job that lets you work on your own while helping people make a fresh start, sandblasting could be the ideal business venture. You need experience in sandblasting and a mind for safety before starting. Sandblasting often is termed abrasive blasting, since sand is seldom used anymore.
Business Plan Considerations
Before setting out in the abrasive blasting business, determine whether you want to offer a mobile service or work from a fixed location. This will determine what equipment you need and what kind of customers you will get. Research your area to see how much competition there already is. Painting companies, home restoration contractors and auto repair shops may already offer sandblasting even if they don't actively advertise their services. Find out what their rates are so you know what to charge. This can vary from $30 to $60 per hour. All of this information should be gathered before writing your business plan and looking for financing.
To begin sandblasting, you will need the right equipment, including a sandblasting rig, abrasive materials called substrates, an air compressor, abrasive hose and a reclaiming system to pick up the abrasives after they have been blasted. Specially-designed enclosed cabinets may be ideal for some jobs, but not for larger equipment. The price of a cabinet ranges from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size. An abrasive blasting hood with a clear shield and respirator, leather gloves, protective clothing and hearing protection also are highly recommended.
State and Municipal Requirements
Depending on where you live, the state and municipality may have requirements before you can set up a sandblasting business. In many communities it is illegal to begin on-site sandblasting without obtaining a permit. In Santa Monica, California, for example, your permit application must include proof of insurance for both property damage and public liability. You must also have samples of the materials being removed analyzed by an accredited laboratory to determine the lead content. You also need a California State Licensing Board contractor's license with a specialty designation for sand and water blasting.
Anyone who needs to resurface durable materials like metal, brick and wood is a potential client for a professional sandblaster. If you have portable equipment, you can go to homes to prepare exterior walls for painting, local manufacturing or farms to remove old paint from equipment. Another area sandblasting can be used for is in making decorative signs. A template is put over a piece of wood, like a company name, and the wood outside of the template is blasted to produce raised lettering on the sign. Some professional sandblasters have found this to be so popular it has become their chief source of income.