Clean and Retrieve – Blog post

Surface preparation – shot blasting vs. hydroblasting 

Surface preparation is a critical step in floor and road marking. It ensures that the surface of the road or factory floor is clean and primed for painting. 

The two most commonly used methods are shot blasting and hydroblasting. Read on to find out more about each technique.

Why do you need surface preparation? 

Shot blasting and hydroblasting are methods of surface preparation. Both are used widely across various industries for different purposes.

In road marking and floor painting, these methods are used for:

  • Clearing the surface of dust, dirt and debris
  • Removing old line marking paint, graffiti, and other coatings 
  • Creating a smoother, profiled surface   
  • Preparing the surface for painting and floor marking 

Correct surface preparation is critical for ensuring the floor paint adheres to the surface so it lasts longer. 

Shot blasting – pros and cons 

Shot blasting is a type of abrasive blast cleaning that involves propelling tiny particles at high velocity to clean, roughen, or etch a material’s surface. 


While it may sound like a messy job, it’s a largely dust-free process. Most shot blasters have an integral vacuum attached that sucks up dirt as it goes. This also means that once you’ve finished, the floor is ready for you to lay down your markings immediately.

Shotblasting is a cost-effective method for larger projects, as ride-on shot blasters can cover large surface areas quickly. 


Operatives require special training to get the finish just right, as well as safety gear to protect themselves during the process. This is not a job for the untrained. 

It’s also worth noting that contaminants removed from the surface can pose environmental challenges and must be properly disposed of or recycled.

Hydroblasting – pros and cons 

Hydroblasting is a surface cleaning and preparation technique that uses high-pressure water jets to remove contaminants and coatings. You might also see it referred to as water blasting or hydrojetting. 


This method of surface preparation is chemical-free, so it’s considered to be kinder to the environment and safer than shot blasting for operatives. 

Hydroblasting is incredibly precise because you’re dealing with a jet of water that can be adjusted. The intensity of the water pressure can be modified to suit different projects by turning a nozzle. 


Inexperienced operators who use too much pressure can inadvertently damage the surface or cause it to erode. Softer materials like wood and certain types of concrete are particularly prone to damage. 

The right training and equipment are key to getting hydroblasting right. 

Which is better – shot blasting or hydroblasting? 

The parameters of your project will determine which method of surface preparation is best. 

Consider factors like surface material, desired surface finish, environmental regulations, equipment availability, and budget. In some cases, a combination of both methods may be required for different parts of a project.

The key to getting it right is partnering with an experienced team that can assess the area and recommend the most suitable approach.    

If you found this post useful, you might also like reading our article on line marking removal

Post author
Darren Riggott
Date of blog post
6 October 2023

Can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with us today