Is cornblasting more environmentally friendly than stripping methods?

Is cornblasting more environmentally friendly for removing paint and stains from surfaces than stripping methods?

The easy answer is yes. Cornblasting – using ground corncobs in a pressure sprayer as an abrasive material to remove old finishes – is one of the most environmentally friendly methods around. Other organics, such as round walnut shells, are often used the same way. Softer and less abrasive than sand for blasting, corncobs and walnut shells are less likely to damage wood surfaces. As a bonus, the particles that inevitably escape containment are biodegradable.

But call in a professional. Even with organic abrasives, the high nozzle velocities a sprayer puts out can scar and splinter a wood surface, especially if it’s soft wood like pine. Professionals should know how to damp down the velocity and keep the nozzle moving evenly. Check credentials before letting someone loose on your cottage, and if you can, inspect a job the contractor has already done. Look for unintended damage, such as scarring or pitting of the wood surface.

If there’s lead in any of the paint layers you want to remove – and chances are that there is if the cottage is more than 50 years old – stop right there and call for a certified specialist in lead paint removal. Abrasive blasting of any kind will create airborne lead particles, which are a serious health hazard.