Before getting into the specifics of each approach to surface removal, you should first note that grinding is not universally preferred over shot blasting or vice versa. So, there is no one blanket answer to the question: Should I shot blast or grind my concrete surface? However, each method comes with its own unique qualities—as well as spec variations—and subsequently will be used for different scenarios.

That’s not to say you won’t end up with a personal preference. You probably will. But the differing processes between each method complement the job at hand. This post will cover the basics of each method and the individual variations that make them special to the concrete surface prep process.

The Basics of Shot Blasting

Depending on where you go, you’ll find that shot blasters vary in size and even in function. The models will come in walk-behind, self-propelled, and ride-on options. And you can typically purchase your shot media at the same time you order a shot blaster for rent or purchase.

How It Works

Shot blasters propel metal abrasives at high velocities against a surface to remove contaminants and coating or to improve a finish. Different metals (both in type and size) will result in different effects on the surface. Typically, the larger the metal abrasive, the rougher the finish and, of course, the opposite is true for a smaller metal shot. Examples of shot for this method include (but aren’t limited to) stainless steel, titanium, carbon steel, and copper.

When You Should Shot Blast Your Surface

Because shot blasting is so efficient at material removal from surfaces, it’s often a go-to choice for contractors looking to both clean and profile a surface. Consequently, there are occasions when a shot blaster would save you more time than a grinder.

Furthermore, concerns over chemicals and hazardous dust may also be eased with the use of a shot blaster, as the process does not require chemicals, nor does it result in the same volume of dust. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a mask or take other preventative measures when shot blasting.

The Difference Between Shot Blasting and Sandblasting

It’s worth noting that there is a significant difference between shot blasting and sandblasting. The primary difference between these two is the med used in the blasting process. Shot blasting typically uses metals known as “shot” fired by turbine wheels and sandblasting usually involves a gentler type of abrasive and uses compressed air or water for blasting.

The Basics of Grinding

Grinding is most complementary to large surfaces that require efficient removal and polish. And, whether you’re talking handheld grinders, walk-behind grinders, or ride-on grinders, there is a wide range of varying models and sizes at your disposal. Some are powered by propane or liquid gas, and some by electricity. But all follow the same fundamental process.

How It Works

It’s quite simple, really. When powered and active, the disc of the concrete grinder rotates and the diamond attachments on the disc grind the surface. This impact affects the surface differently, depending on the grit and bond of the diamond tool.

Of course, that’s a simplified version of what’s going on. Some grinders, for instance, have more than one disc and some have capabilities for large varieties of attachments and therefore a wider range of surface effects.  

When You Should Grind Your Surface

Floor grinders have the capability to clean, smooth, and polish floors – as well as remove the top surface. Though, most grinders are limited to fractions of an inch of surface removal. The type and extent of the work done to the surface will largely depend on the grit used in the process. If you’re looking to even out a floor and give it a smooth finish, a grinder is your better bet.

Find It All at Runyon Surface Prep

Still unsure which to go with? The good news is you’re not without help. We are a full-service sales and rental facility that ships products internationally, and we have an extensive catalog of concrete surface preparation products. Whether you need a shot blaster, floor grinder, or other relevant equipment for your project, we’re more than happy to steer you in the right direction.

Reach out today by calling one of our offices or by using the online contact form.