Engraving bricks can be a profitable and easy process. They are a premium item so don’t under service your profitability when setting prices. This article explains how to sandblast engrave bricks and pavers using a variety of machinery and resist materials.
Most Pavers and bricks can be engraved. Even ones with slightly rough surfaces. The key it to get the resist on with good adhesion. You can use ProBlast SR3000 5mil or 9mil photomask resist (need and exposure and washout system) or the ProBlast SuperTack vinyl mask (need a vinyl cutter or razor blade knife) to create your stencils.
Once you have produced you mask the process is almost identical regardless of which resist style you use.
Follow these steps to get a great result
- Clean the bricks down with Metho.
Spray the Metho onto the rag and then wipe over surface rather than spray directly onto the surface of the brick. You don’t need much and it should evaporate immediately.
- Heat the brick up using a propane gas bottle or hair dryer.
This important step will ensure good adhesive contact as resist bond well to warm surfaces. It only takes a few seconds. The paver should have a hot surface but not extremely hot. A few seconds is all you need.
- Apply the resist lightly and get the alignment right.
You should have created a border or marker to help you align the resist to the brick. Before burnishing down check that you have gotten the resist on straight and centred. You can lift SR3000 and SuperTack Vinyl if needed to re-align the resist.
- Burnish the aligned resist onto the item using a plastic applicator
Work out any air bubbles and get it nice and tight on the surface.
- Remove the cover sheet.
If you are using SR3000 it is the clear protective film onto or if you are using with application paper peel it off.
- Mask up any exposed areas that you don’t want engraved or etched.
You are now ready to sandcarve your bricks.
Choose your weapon
You can use any sandblasting machine but preferably a pressure pot system for better torque when blasting which gets the job done faster and more accurately. The choices here will be the PB2034VXA pressure pot sandblasting cabinet, our SM-Compact Mobile Blaster or the amazing SM-AUTOB CNC AutoBlaster.
This is by far the most efficient way to engrave bricks and pavers. You can set up many pieces to blast in one run. The CNC AutoBlaster will produce very even blasting across the entire brick run as it is computer set to run rate and depth. There is no manual blasting, the entire blast production is automatic. The AutoBlaster is a vacuum blast system so the spent abrasive is sucked back into the system, filtered and recycled. It even stops when it runs out of abrasive, refills itself, re-pressurises and re-starts where it left off. It’s brilliant.
- We recommend using aluminium Oxide 40-80 grit
- Set bricks in place.
- Guide the head to the surface to set the surface level making sure the vacuum brush runs gently on the resist surface.
- Set the fields so that you are only blasting areas that need blasting
- Set the run speed to about 80% and the pressure to 3 bar
- Run the AutoBlaster and go have a cup of tea while is does the hard work.
This is a great portable and mobile vacuum blaster. It is of course a pressure pot system and will blast bricks easily. The SM-COMPACT also has the advantage of being able to take on site for blasting pavers and bricks in situ. We run our Mobile blaster on this small 8.5cfm compressor with a 50L tank and it works fine with this small and light weight set up. We highly recommend Chicago HUSH compressor, they are so quite.
- We recommend using aluminium Oxide 40-80 grit and pressure about 2 bar
- Set you vacuum blaster up so that the lead lines are not constrained and so you have a comfortable grip on the blasting head.
Using a scissor lift trolley is a great idea so you can set the height best for your height.
- Set the
- Place the blast head onto the masked brick so that it is perpendicular to the brick and the brushes are fairly evenly seated on the surface. This ensures full vacuum efficiency.
- Starting off the direct engraving area, press and hold the on switch to start blasting.
- Move in an even and medium paced direction across the surface of the brick until the desired depth is achieved.
It is very quick to etch so keep your eye on it.
- When done leave the head in position on the brick and take your finger off the on switch. Allow a few seconds for the blaster to stop before lifting the head.
For cabinet blasting it does not get better than this pressure pot system with no mess auto-refill. This cabinet is design specifically for engravers and provides excellent filtration and clear view whilst blasting.
- We recommend using aluminium Oxide 40-80 grit and pressure about 40psi.
You can use courser grades but if you are using the PB2034VXA for general sandblast engraving 150grit is the recommended grit size. So to save you changing over the grit just use 150 grit.
- Stack a few pavers into the cabinet on one side.
- Blast away with a nice even stroke about 10cm away from the paver.
- As you complete a brick move it the other side of the cabinet.
Most brick or paver engraving jobs require paint filled engraving. You can use either acrylic or enamel paint and we recommend using a high quality outdoor rated paint in a spray car. Car paint is ideal.
- Leave the mask on the brick so it acts as a perfect mask
- Make sure the engraving area is dust free
- Spray three light coats allowing the paint to semi dry in between coats.
- Quality check to make sure the paint has a good coverage and even depth of colour
- Allow a few minutes to dry after the last coat
- Peel the resist off leaving just the small island pieces on the brick.
- Pick the last small piece of with finger, tweezers, scrapper or gaff tape applied to the surface and ripped off.