Bead Blasting 101

Bead blasting is used to finish metal and other objects like some plastics. The friction created by the glass beads chips away at the paint on objects, leaving a clean surface. Bead blasting is used most in vehicle restoration but can be used for many things, including refinishing metal toys and machines. The following article will explain what bead blasting is and how it is done.

What Glass Beads Are

Bead blasting uses tiny glass beads made from soda lime-type glass that is lead-free. These glass beads also do not contain free silica. This material is then formed into tiny glass balls or beads. These glass beads can be reused approximately 30 times before needing to be replaced. They are environmentally safe and chemically inert. The beads are found in several sizes.

What Bead Blasting Does

When using bead blasting, you will find that the surface left behind will be bright and smooth. Angular abrasives create a rougher finish. Bead blasting does not change the dimension of the item you are working on. The process of bead blasting removes burrs in the object as well as foreign matter like rust. Paint will also be removed.

When to Conduct Bead Blasting

In most cases, you will use bead blasting to hone and polish thinner metals. You can also use bead blasting to finish a surface and remove burrs from it. The friction from the glass beads creates a perfect balance to do these things without damaging the metal. Bead blasting can also be used to remove fungus and mold from tiles and grout.


Bead blasting requires all kinds of equipment in order to be successful. You can utilize a portable blasting cabinet. These are usually powered by an air compressor using diesel fuel. Pots are attached to the cabinets that contain the material used in the bead blasting. This type of cabinet limits the size of the object you can work on. These may also not recycle the materials. You can also have a bead blasting apparatus that holds the air and the materials and has a gun. These are used for large items like vehicles and metal pillars. The media is not recycled. A blast room is another piece of bead blasting equipment. A blast room is considerably larger than a blast cabinet and is self-contained. This means that you, the thing being blasted and the gun will all be in the same room, whereas you stand outside of a blast cabinet.


When bead blasting, you need to make sure you are protected, as the abrasive material can easily be inhaled or can remove flesh. Glass beads are not toxic. They are, however, dangerous if they get on your skin during use, as they will burn you. You should also be aware that these should not be inhaled. Always wear gloves, long-sleeved thick shirts and jeans along with work boots. A respirator is a good idea along with a full mask that covers the head and face. Bead blasting can also be very loud, so earmuffs or sound-canceling headphones are important.