Concrete Grinder vs. Dustless Blasting: Which Should You Choose?

Abrasive blasting and concrete grinding are both popular methods used to prepare concrete surfaces. What are the advantages of choosing Dustless Blasting machines over a concrete grinder? Are there disadvantages? Whether you're looking to start up a surface preparation business or bring your existing business up to speed with the latest technology, keep reading to explore which method could be best for polishing your concrete floors, driveways, sidewalks, and more.

concrete sandblasting before and after

What is Dustless Blasting?

Dustless Blasting is a machine that can wet blast, dry blast, and soda blast all in one. This grants the user versatility to select the abrasive blasting method that is right for them. Wet blasting, a method popular for restoring rough and uneven concrete surfaces, uses a combination of water, abrasive media, and compressed air to clean and remove old sealant, epoxy coating, corrosion, and other stains from concrete surfaces. The wet blasting method process produces minimal dust and waste, making it an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for preparing surfaces.

sandblasting removing grime from stamped concrete

What is Concrete Grinding?

Think of an industrial-sized sander. This equipment can be a hand grinder, like an angle grinder, or sized-up to large push grinders for more expansive projects. The first step in concrete grinding usually involves a 40-grit coarse metal bond tool to remove the top layer from the rough concrete surfaces. Next, the concrete grinding operator may choose to move to a finer 80-grit or 120-grit tool to finish off the process. Each step typically requires at least two passes to make sure the final product is is polished and ready for sealing.

This process can be completed wet or dry. Operators will select the wet concrete grinding process to suppress the large amount of dust that comes with grinding concrete and prevent harmful dust exposure. To get between large cracks and rocks, an operator may choose to use a pressure washer to wash away dirt and imperfections from hard to reach spaces.

concrete grinder

Advantages of Dustless Blasting Machines and Concrete Grinders

The end goal of the concrete grinding or Dustless Blasting restoration process is the same, a smoother concrete surface. Let's take a look at the advantages for each method.

Dustless Blasting:

LineStripe_Removal SMALL

  1. Less Dust: Airborne silica from grinding concrete is dangerous for both the operator and bystanders. If inhaled, silica can cause irreversible lung damage. Using the wet blasting method with your Dustless Blasting machine, you can avoid that hazardous dust plume and safely prep your concrete surface. Though dust is suppressed in wet blasting, we still recommend operators wear safety glasses, hearing protection, and gloves when completing a project.

  2. Less Fuss: Since the abrasive is encapsulated in a stream of water, you don't have to worry about wetting the floor before the concrete smoothing process. Dustless Blasting machines have a run time of 15 minutes to 2-3 hours of continuous blasting, depending on the model. This means you can select a machine that will best fit the size of your job and avoid having to wet small parts of a surface as you go. 

  3. Time=Money: Dustless Blasting equipment is able to remove dirt, stains, and old coatings is the fraction of the time. With more time in the day, that leaves more time for other jobs! Just see how fast this contractor was able to re-stain and re-seal an entire driveway and walkway

  4. Versatile: Now, you don't have to just stick to floors or switch to a smaller machine for walls. With hundreds of feet of hose, this machine is able to blast those hard to reach high spots and walls. This means you can expand your expertise and offer new pillars to clients looking for concrete restoration. You can achieve a smoother, polished surface with either a dry blasting or wet blasting method, simply select an abrasive that will give you a smooth finish vs an anchored one. This versatility gives you access to areas of business you may not have been able to tap into before, such as etching.

    concrete etching done with a dustless blasting machine
  5. Eco-Friendly: You might be wondering what happens to all the grime that gets blasted away, especially with wet blasting. Our mid-size model outputs only 20 gallons of water an hour (compared to a pressure washer's 120-240 gallons an hour), so there is no significant run-off of materials. Setting up containment before the job makes for an easy clean up. Though there isn't one specific way to contain and clean up a site, check out some recommended "after the job tips". 

Concrete Grinders:

  1. Cost: Concrete grinders can get into the tens of thousands dollars for industrial-sized jobs, but if you're looking for a quick cement grind, you can get a small grinder for under $5,000. This is ideal for the lower-scale, diy-ers.

  2. Accessibility: Most likely, you can run over to your local hardware store and pick up a concrete grinder within the hour. This is ideal for those that just want to smooth a smaller part of flooring or space.

  3. You Can Wet Grind: You don't have to just stick to dry grinding concrete. Users are able to wet a surface and suppress dust by utilizing this method. This leaves a slurry that can be cleaned from the flooring after grinding the surface. If you're dry grinding, don't forget your respirators and other PPE.

    close up of a concrete grinder

Disadvantages of Dustless Blasting Machines and Concrete Grinders

As with anything, there are disadvantages to consider when deciding what equipment is best for you. Let's take a look.

Dustless Blasting

  1. Initial Cost: A blast pot or mobile machine may be more expensive at first glance than just stopping over to your local hardware store for a concrete grinder, but the profit potential of this machine is exponential, especially if you're looking to build a business. Most Dustless Blasting owners pay off their machine within the first few jobs. Check out some user testimonials here.

  2. Accessibility: It may take a bit more research and shipping time between looking for a concrete grinding tool and acquiring your Dustless Blasting machine. Unfortunately, you can't just pop over to your hardware store for a Dustless Blasting machine (wouldn't that be awesome, though.) You can get blast pots shipped factory-direct here or check out our mobile trailers. 

    Banner Concrete

Concrete Grinders

Time Consuming: Comparatively, a traditional concrete grinder takes more passes and more time to achieve the same end result as a Dustless Blasting machine. This can cost you valuable time on a job and limit the projects you can complete in a day, week, or month.

Water Consumption: Though you can water grind for a safer overall experience than dry grinding, this takes a significant amount of water to execute, resulting in large amounts of slurry to clean from the sidewalk, ground, garage floor, or concrete floor you're grinding.

Lack of Versatility: A concrete grinder is best at, well, grinding concrete. A Dustless Blasting machine is the equipment that keeps on giving. With different blast pressures, methods, and abrasive choices, you can expand your area of expertise to wood restoration, auto restoration, and more. If you have farm equipment you want blasted, an old car you're looking to make new, or strip paint from a fence, you can do that whenever the job rises!

Let's Summarize

You have choices when it comes to grinding concrete or surface preparation, but the benefits are clear - Dustless Blasting has the machines you need to complete any job with efficient and effective results. Our machines are eco-friendly, versatile, time-conscious, and an easier solution that produces superior results and a smoother surface, faster. If you are looking to prepare a concrete surface for new coatings or finishes, install flooring, and more, consider using Dustless Blasting for optimal and quality results.

sandblasting a concrete driveway easily

To learn more about concrete restoration, check out our other blogs here or download our free catalog to learn more about our products and pricing below.

Download Catalog