Entering the sandblasting and surface preparation industry can be daunting, especially when it comes to pricing jobs. Many new entrepreneurs worry about underbidding projects and ultimately losing money. Below, seasoned professionals share their insights on how to approach pricing, ensuring both competitive bids and profitability.

Stand Firm on Your Initial Price

"Stick to your initial price. When the potential client tells you that they have other bids and ask if you’re willing to negotiate, you will lose money by negotiating. If you close every estimate, you’re too cheap. Stick to your guns."

Patrick Grimes, a Dustless Blasting business owner, emphasizes the importance of confidence in your pricing strategy. Negotiating lower prices to match competitors can lead to diminishing returns. Grimes advocates for consistency and suggests that securing every job might be an indicator that your prices are too low. By sticking to your initial price, you ensure your business remains sustainable and profitable, reflecting the true value of your work.

Bid by Square Footage and Standards

"I bid all of my jobs based off of square footage and the desired surface preparation standard, be it SP6, SP10, SP7, SP11 - you need to know those."

Mike Robison highlights a structured approach to bidding by relying on specific measurements and standards. By basing your bids on square footage and understanding various surface preparation standards, you can provide accurate and fair pricing. This method helps in creating consistent estimates that reflect the complexity and scope of each project, ensuring clarity for both you and your clients.

Detailed Assessments and Calculations

"Pricing jobs is still a challenge. Every surface will be different as well as the coating. I have learned over time what blasts fast and what blasts slow but I still do the math! Get the square feet! Get pictures! Do a test blast if you’re not sure."

Charles Burton advises taking a meticulous approach to each job, recognizing the uniqueness of different surfaces and coatings. By gathering detailed information through measurements, photos, and test blasts, you can better understand the requirements of each project. Burton’s method ensures you account for variables and avoid unexpected issues, leading to more accurate and effective pricing.

Know Your Expenses

"Know your expenses. I built myself a little list that shows exactly how much I have to spend per hour to run the machine. That’s media, fuel, insurances, your time, and anyone that you’re hiring, etc."

Randall Christenson underscores the importance of understanding your costs. By keeping a detailed record of all expenses—media, fuel, insurance, labor—you can determine your hourly operational cost. This knowledge helps in setting prices that cover expenses while providing a margin for profit, ensuring the financial health of your business.

Hourly Bidding for Beginners

"When you’re first starting out, try to bid jobs by the hour. You might not make as much, but there will be no surprises. Now, a lot of people don’t like the idea of being charged by the hour, but I’ve found that it’s all in the way you phrase it."

For newcomers, Mike Robison recommends an hourly bidding approach. Although it may not yield the highest immediate returns, it reduces the risk of underbidding and encountering unforeseen challenges. Effective communication about hourly rates can help clients understand and accept this pricing method, providing a clear framework for both parties.


Pricing in the sandblasting and surface preparation industry requires a careful balance between competitiveness and profitability. By adhering to firm pricing, utilizing structured bids based on standards, conducting thorough assessments, understanding operational costs, and considering hourly bids initially, you can establish a robust pricing strategy. These insights from experienced professionals will guide you in making informed decisions, ensuring your business thrives in this challenging yet highly rewarding industry.

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Explore More with Pointers with the Pros

Interested in deeper insights and more detailed advice from experienced professionals in the sandblasting industry? Check out our video podcast series, Pointers with the Pros. Each episode features industry experts like Patrick Grimes, Mike Robison, Charles Burton, and Randy Christenson, sharing their strategies, tips, and real-world experiences on various topics, including pricing, equipment maintenance, and client management.

Catch the full interviews for a comprehensive look into the surface preparation business and learn directly from those who’ve mastered the craft. Whether you're just starting out or looking to refine your approach, Pointers with the Pros offers valuable guidance to help you succeed.

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