Dry Ice Blasting & Cleaning Blog

Case Study: Safely Blasting 340,000 Square Feet of Lead Paint without Water

Lead paint removal

Learn how a combination of dry ice and sponge blasting safely removed lead paint for the restoration of a new police headquarters

When one of the world’s biggest contractors took on the job of restoring and converting a 19th century building into a modern police headquarters, they were determined not to repeat the soggy experience of a recently completed restoration project.

Both jobs included large sections of brick under layers of old paint that had to be removed – a notoriously difficult process. At the earlier project, a blasting contractor had used wet “sandblasting” to remove the paint. In the process, the water and glass left a slurry of paint dust and debris behind.

Wary of having to manage a similar mess in a building that had holes in the floor beneath 10,000 square feet of lead paint, the contractor reached out to Polar Clean, with the expectation that special processes would be required to keep things dry.

“We said we wouldn’t use water,” said Polar Clean Sales Engineering Manager Devin Baier. “And they said, ‘What do you mean’?”

The Advantage of Dry Ice & Sponge Blasting for Restoration

It wasn’t the first time Polar Clean had the opportunity to spread the word about the capabilities of dry ice blasting and sponge blasting. Despite the unique capabilities of these two methods, which are often used in combination, they don’t carry the name recognition of more traditional methods like sandblasting—although the name is a bit of a misnomer; sands containing crystalline silica can cause serious or fatal respiratory disease according to the CDC, so are not part of the process today.

Dry ice blasting is a water-free, chemical-free process that uses frozen CO2 pellets and adjustable levels of force that can be calibrated for the most delicate surfaces, including electrical equipment. Sponge blasting is a water-free, chemical-free method that can produce a higher level of abrasiveness depending on the media that is packed inside.

Both methods offer significant advantages for restoration cleaning, including mess control: dry ice pellets sublimate on contact and reusable sponge media absorbs dust. Together, they resolve multiple challenges for historic and industrial restoration cleaning:

Show & Tell Makes Believers Out of Skeptics

With dry ice and sponge blasting, the results are so good, in fact, that clients often have to see it to believe it. To assuage concerns that the brick could be damaged in the process, we provided a demonstration of both methods in a mock-up. The results put any doubts to rest and in just under five weeks, the brick was paint-free and largely unscathed.

For the second half of the project, we used dry ice blasting to remove flaking lead paint from 330,000 square feet of ceilings and walls in eight weeks.

Because of the lead paint involved, both processes required diligent containment and disposal protocols, including the use of negative air pressure, Tyvek® suits and respirators for our technicians.

The results left the contractors so impressed, they asked for our help in writing a summary of the process for their internal publication.

Before lead paint removal

Before Dry Ice & Sponge Blasting

After lead paint removal

After Dry Ice & Sponge Blasting

Mess-Free Dry Ice & Sponge Blasting for Your Restoration Cleaning Project

To learn more about what Polar Clean training, expertise and innovative cleaning methods can do for your next historic or industrial restoration project, speak with one of our experts. We have a wide array of effective and reliable solutions and the trust of restoration contractors across the country.

You can also download our Guide to Blasting Solutions for Restoration Projects.

Learn more about dry ice and sponge blasting for restoration