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22 SURFACE PREP 2017 COATINGSPROMAG.COM How to Pick the Right Tool for the Job By Tim Cook, Operations Manager for Geo-Blast Inc. Photos Courtesy of Geo-Blast, Inc. O ne f avorite industr y say ing is "use the right tool for the job." It's common sense advice. Unfortunately, as Mark Twain obser ved, common sense isn't ver y common — many contractors seem to strug gle w ith identif y ing the best surface prep processes for them. T hen, simply put: How do you pick the right tool for the job? Key Philosophies W hen it comes to surface prep process selection, you should be guided by several key philosophies: 1. One size does not fit all. A small project w ill need a different process than a much larger and complex one. A lthough a single process is convenient, in reality, most projects w ill need to be supported by several processes to succeed at the surface prep and coatings game. T he job varies in scope of work; therefore, the right "process tool " for the job must also var y (e.g., a f loor grinder may work perfectly for larger f lat horizontal surfaces of a warehouse; however, when you need to prepare a few inches of vertical surface up the wall, you w ill need another tool for that portion of the job). 2. You must adapt, tailor. You can't simply choose a process and use it outright; you must tailor it for each situation. Recognize that each project is unique. You need processes that ref lect the realities actually faced by the individual job and portions of the job throughout the entire project. 3. Not all tools are created equal. In some cases, equip- ment that does similar functions are not that similar at all. For blasting tools in particular, variable controls or devices that can regulate blasting pressures, water dose for wet blast units, or abrasive dose controls can be present or not and can be controllable or not. W hen determining what equipment you want to use — purchased or rented — for a specific job, keep in mind the four S's of surface prep: 1. Substrate: W hat needs to be removed from the surface? W hat is the nature of the substrate? Is it hard or fragile (e.g., steel vs. brick)? 2. Situation: W here is the job? Is it an interior or exterior job? Will dust be an issue? 3. Specifications: W hat methods of surface prep are the specifications calling for? 4. Standards: W hat are the specs asking for (e.g., commer- cial blast vs. white metal blast)? W hat surface profile do you need to achieve? T he most commonly accepted standards for contractors and organizations are the NACE International and Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) Joint Surface Preparation Standards. Making Sense of It All In helping your chances of success, you must make sense of the many equipment options, processes, and techniques available for your job. Options Before picking the right process for your job, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your options, Each coatings project requires a different strategy. When choosing the equipment for your surface prep needs, it's important to keep in mind the four S's: substrate, situation, specifications, and standards. Surface Prep