Vapor Abrasive Blasting

Written By Ashley Kenny

Gilroy, California, is known as the garlic capital of the world. With enough production to warrant a July festival in honor of the “the stinking rose,” there’s plenty of processing facilities to keep contractors busy.

In November 2018, B. Taylor Painting was working at a Gilroy processing plant and seeking alternative methods of surface preparation. Mechanical removal would do more than protect employees from going home smelling like a greek food truck – it would change the game for the service of B. Taylor Painting.

“This project actually entailed doing light gauge steel, sheet metal covers on equipment and where the belting and belt system move, there’s a lot of intricate pieces,” said Brian Taylor, President of B. Taylor Painting. “One of the benefits of a media blaster would be that it allows the metal to stay cool enough to where you don’t have it warp.”

Taylor connected with Don Gonneville of Gonneville Inc., a West Coast Graco EcoQuip blaster distributor. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, Gonneville showed up to the jobsite ready to demo the EcoQuip P model.

“We blasted in a real time environment and they actually bought it on spot and they’ve used it ever since,” Gonneville said. “Brian told me that on the first job they did, it paid for itself.”

This is no everyday sand blaster nor an average water blaster – it’s actually the lovechild of the two.

“Our unit has a blast pot into which you put water and abrasives together,” Gonneville explained. “Our system is pressurized with water. In other words, as the user blasts with the system, the water and abrasive that is ejected from the pot process is replaced by water being pumped back into the pot to maintain pressure in that pot.”

As for specifications, the EcoQuip’s blast pot is two cubic feet and can run on a 185 cfm compressor. But you can also attach a 400 cfm compressor to achieve even more production, Gonneville said.

From an engineering perspective, this blaster gets big points. Traditional blasting pots are compressed with air as they expel abrasives out. An empty pot means nothing but air.

“It has an uneven blast because as the air compresses and expands, compresses and expands, it changes the velocity of the abrasives being ejected from the system,” Gonneville said. “Water, on the other hand, since it cannot be compressed, will have a consistent pressure throughout, where the blast is very steady. So we use less abrasive and it provides a more consistent blast.”

The most significant improvement made by Graco since purchasing the EcoQuip line eight years ago is the design of the pot’s overhead dome, Gonneville said.

“The old design, rather than being convex, was concave on top and it trapped air around the rim on the inside,” he said. “When you went to pressurize the pot, you had to wait until the air was expelled before the pot would start pressurizing, which wasted some time. With the system we now have, since there’s no air trapped in that pot, as soon as we start introducing more water into the pot to pressurize, it pressurizes almost immediately.”

Time is money 

Quick pot pressurization isn’t the only thing that will get your budgets excited.

“The No. 1 cost is labor,” Taylor said. “Anytime we can introduce a mechanical form of removal, it’s going to bring that cost down. In our experience using this, for a year and a half now, we’ve found that this media blaster brings that labor down the most.”

Just how much does it save time on surface preparation? Pedro Cazares, B. Taylor Painting general manager, talked about a project in Marina, California, where his team was doing surface prep for ten housing units, two stories each. The metal railings sit close to the ocean, meaning the salt water in the air oxidizes the metal and in less than six years they needed a makeover. On that project alone, the use of the EcoQuip blaster saved more than 300 hours of labor, Cazares said.

Taylor said that kind of cost-cutting may not happen on your first job, but it’s worth it.

“The first time you go out and use this stuff, you’re not going to go cut your labor bill in half, because you’re still learning how the equipment works,” Taylor said. “But over time, you train your employees on how to use it and people get familiar with what it’s capable of, what situations it’s effective and what situations it’s just not. If we can get the equipment in there, this new blasting system is by far the quickest, most-efficient way to do it as far as labor is involved.”

Safety second to none

Proper training is less for the sake of your pocketbook and more for the safety of the operator. Contractors in every trade constantly seek ways to protect their people and maintain or exceed OSHA standards – and dry blasting rivals twelve-packs-a-day when it comes to lung health.

“It creates an awful lot of dust,” Gonneville said. “That’s one of the reasons why vapor abrasive blasting is gaining a lot of popularity. Because it reduces the amount of dust airborne particulates by almost 95 percent.”

An impressive number, but that doesn’t mean you go commando. In case you haven’t made dry blasting your favorite summer time activity recently, here’s your reminder that California heat and full body PPE aren’t exactly the best match.

“When it’s hot, the operators like our system a lot more because they don’t have to wear as much protective gear,” Gonneville said. “They do have to maintain breathing protection, eye and ear protection. That’s pretty simple.”

This system keeps your general managers smiling, operators safe and accountants as happy as they get. The EcoQuip’s ability to please doesn’t stop there.

Anyone in charge of paperwork shuffling will be happy to hear this also saves on your printer ink, at least in California, Gonneville said.

“In California, if your ratio of water to abrasive is at a certain level, the blast pot does not have to be permitted by the air quality management district or the air and resources board in Sacramento,” he explained. “A dry blast pot over a certain size has to be permitted and the user of that pot has to keep track of how much abrasive is being used. Our system does not have to be permitted. That’s one big advantage of the mix between water and abrasive.”

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Gonneville, Cazares and Taylor all agree – the EcoQuip blasts the competition when it comes to executing a clean job.

Cazares explained how B. Taylor’s team uses two layers of plastic around the blast areas to catch all of the broken glass used as an abrasive. This media is the most economic choice for B. Taylor Painting and 100 percent reusable, he said.

The president of the painting company agrees, going into more detail.

“We can actually funnel all that debris to an area where we can filter the water back out and contain all those particulates,” Taylor said. “Then sweep it up later or actually drain it into a bucket if you’ve created the proper funnel system, you can drain all of it.”

Environmental Benefits

This cleanliness translates into environmental stewardship as well, Gonneville said.

“It makes it a lot easier to measure how much abrasive you’re actually using in the process,” he added. “This means that our system uses a lot less abrasive because it can be metered or adjusted a lot easier than an air-compressed system.”

Gonneville said B. Taylor Painting is a “professional in surface preparation” – in part because they use the best equipment available in a way that is environmentally sound and friendly.

“Obviously, it often comes down to money,” Gonneville said. “But customers also need to consider how clean the job is going to be, how well it is going to be done. Of course, the result is very much a function of the equipment that’s being used.”


As general manager, Cazares’ chief concern is that of service quality. In the case of surface preparation, this means achieving a perfect profile.

“Grinding it or machining it by hand will leave a really smooth profile and will leave the metal really polished,” Cazares said. “When you apply coating to a really polished hard substrate, it does not stick. What we’re trying to achieve is dimpling in the metal that allows the primer and the coatings to adhere properly. In this case, with the team and system that we’re using, we’re aiming for at least a 2 mil. profile.”

The crew at B. Taylor Painting uses broken glass on metal, but there’s many options to send through the EcoQuip, Gonneville said.

“We use garnet on steel because it cuts very well,” he explained. “It’s denser, harder and it removes the coating quickly.”

Workmanship doesn’t pivot around the abrasive. It comes down to the user and the equipment. In the case of the EcoQuip, the machine is customizable depending on the project’s needs.

“We can blast anywhere from 40 PSI to 130 to 135 PSI,” Gonneville said. “Depending on the job we’re doing, for example, if someone is blasting wood, which is a lot more delicate, obviously than steel, they want to blast at a lower pressure so they don’t damage the wood. With steel on the other hand, you want to blast at a higher pressure because not only will they do the job faster, but also, it creates that profile.”

Doing the job

Whether it’s sandpaper or the latest model of a vapor abrasive blaster, tradesmen have always optimized their resources to get the job done. However, what sets a tradesman apart – a company apart – is how they use the tools they pick up.

“The biggest thing is that it allows us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and allows us to give peace of mind to our clients using this machine on the metal,” Cazares said. “The prep that we’re doing on the metal is going to hold up longer.”

Taylor chooses to work with people like Gonneville and companies like Graco because of the service they provide – which is why his clients, in turn, choose to work with B. Taylor Painting.

“We’re tradesmen, brought up in the trades,” he said. “Our company was founded on the principles of doing the job, you know, painting and providing service in the painting industry. But when we talk about getting a job done as efficiently as possible, it comes through experience and it comes through the fact that we’re rooted in the trades.”

Keeping Social

Work may look a little different, you may still have several projects to do, but do you feel isolated?


As a country, we have been asked to social distance – that does not mean social isolation.


As a team, we are reaching out and touching base not only with each other, but with our clients as well. Although we are an essential business and still performing some work in the field under California and CDC guidelines, our main goal is to keep in touch with our business partners and friends. 


How are you doing? We want to know how YOU are doing during these times. You may have a great idea or a schedule you are sticking to. Possibly you are trying new recipes at lunch or you have discovered how to meet your residents’ needs. We would love to hear it! 


A few of our business partners have teamed up with us on Thursdays at 1 p.m. to virtually visit about life and how their business has been impacted. 


Whether you want to join a Zoom call, send us a text, or give a team member a call – we are here for you. We are in the trenches with you and we get it. 


Email us here if you would like to schedule a meeting to visit, vent, cry, laugh or catch up! WE are looking forward to it!


Core Values: Fun

FUN – It’s our #2 team value.

Fun is an important core value for us to have on a daily basis because most of our work can be relatively boring and difficult. If we make decisions based on whether it’s going to be fun or not fun, at least we know what we’re in for. We recognize not all decisions in business are going to be fun, however, it’s worth the extra effort to smile, find light-hearted moments, and create joy whenever possible. 

Growing a successful business and having satisfied, happy clients can be challenging. That fact alone may be the reason why so many businesses are emotionally bankrupt. 

We’ve asked our leaders over the years to complete intense projects, lead large teams and make critical decisions without checking on their EQ, which can cause a life of turmoil. It’s important to us to check in on both our team members and clients with each project and afterward.

Are you having challenges you find too difficult to bear alone? Do you feel like everyone you turn to professionally is just passing the buck? Are you starting your day most days thinking “this isn’t going to be any fun?” 

This is the exact reason we have fun in our value system. 

When we experience numerous hard and boring days at work, We ask ourselves what needs to change? The first aspect we reflect on is our value system and determine what change needs to take place to create more fun in our professional life. 

It’s that simple. As a team, we have decided having fun is important to us. 


Questions for you: 

What important value do you have in your company that your team members can make decisions based off of? 

Are the business partners you’re working with or clients you have properly matched to the values you live and work off of daily? 

If your answer is “no” to the questions above, we urge YOU to review your list of professionals you interact with on a daily basis and determine if you are going to keep them in your circle for 2020. The importance of doing this is making sure you are intentional with the workload and the people you are asking your team members to serve throughout the year. When you properly match everybody up and do not leave any area of confusion the rest will take care of itself. 


Tips for Hustling on the Homefront

Are you working at home due to COVID-19 or to avoid illness? We have a few team members who work remotely and/or work as much as possible from their home office. Be sure to check out their tips below when it comes to being efficient, hustling at home, and keeping in contact with business partners and clients. 

Google Programs are Your Friend  

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can be used to work on projects with other team members or easily share work that needs a second set of eyes to be completed. We utilize Google Docs to easily share information, plans, schedules, and reports with our team.

Utilize Video Chat

Zoom, Facebook, Google Chat, and YouTube all have access to video chatting. Rather than having a phone call, utilize one of these platforms to meet, share ideas, and have a “personal feel” to your meeting. 

Schedule Your Time

Make efficient use of your time by setting timers and organizing your time before you begin projects. Some of our team uses a paper planner with block scheduling. Others prefer their phone calendar or a simple sticky note with a to-do list. Whatever suits you, use it. 

Meal Prep and Stay Healthy

Take advantage of the time you have at home to eat a healthier lunch, wash your hands often and drink more water. If you need to take a walk to destress or clear your mind, do it anytime throughout the day. A brisk walk once or twice a day will do wonders for you. You may find these actions will give you added creativity and more energy to hustle through your tasks and stay in touch with your team. 

“I’m a painter.”

“I’m a painter,” said Brian Taylor, President of B. Taylor Painting.

Brian grew up in Northern California and always had a love for the trades.

“Growing up, I just was not a student,” Brian said. “I wasn’t very good at school. I never really engaged in school or in the process. I didn’t really take to education. I knew from the beginning I was going to have to do something with my hands.”

Twenty years ago, Brian quit his job, started a company, and married his wife Faye – in the span of three months. He is celebrating 20 years of business in the painting industry, March 2020.

 “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. It feels like we just barely figured out how to graduate high school.”



Core Values: Family First

Family First  – It’s #1 to our company value system. 

Family First is important to us because it’s the primary reason why we do what we do. 

We all work tireless hours in the office, running projects, building team members and solving problems for our clients. These are all important; however, the most important things in life are those we get the opportunity to come home to. In a roundabout way, everything we do at work for our team members and our clients allows them to go home safely, mentally relaxed and capable of thoroughly enjoying family time. 

Family First is not just a value written in our value system which hangs on the office wall, it is a high-level priority both team members and their families take great pride in. Everything we do revolves around the family-first value. From the big decisions that we make on a daily basis, all the way down to the small ones minute by minute. We are always thinking, “In what way will this decision affect my family?” 

When we keep our decisions as a business, based on the values that matter to us most, we feel it builds a sustainable and structurally-sound professional relationship that will stand the test of time.

Family first. Values matter. Integrity lasts. 


Questions for you:

Do you relate to this value system? 

How do you make decisions every day that match your values?

What value from our system matters the most to you? 


Core Values: Forgiving

Forgiving: It’s a top priority for our business and value system. 

“We own up to our mistakes and we learn from them. We forgive others for their mistakes and help them correct them.”

Forgiveness can be a difficult task not only for a company but for everyday life. Yet, our team decided it was important enough they drafted it into our core values several years ago. 

As humans, we like to hold grudges. We like to make people pay for things that negatively hurt us. Forgiveness takes communication and communication hard, especially proper communication. 

Can you think of a time where a business partner or client did wrong to you and what you immediately thought? Maybe even your significant other did wrong to you and you held it against them for years? 

This is why forgiveness is in our value system. In business, we make decisions and sometimes the decisions are not the right ones. It is important for us to own up to our mistakes and then forgive ourselves for them. We all make mistakes. We are human.

Without forgiveness individually, we cannot make progress. Without progress … you know the rest of that story. Forgiveness can be very difficult at times; however, by having the value of forgiveness in our value system, it gives us a sounding board when decisions get tough. 

A question for you: 

Do you have something or someone you need to forgive? 

Work on it today. Forgiveness will remove the negative weights you carry personally and professionally. It will allow you to make decisions quicker and at the very least, will give you an opportunity to be happy. 


Core Values: Forthright

“We are honest and never take advantage of a situation.” 

This was one of the most difficult values to add to our value system. It has the potential to be taken in many different ways. It may be, in fact, one of the most important values on this list. During the past couple of years, we have found endless amounts of opportunities to use forthright in our decision-making process. 

The following forthright-related questions have often been asked by our team: 

Is the submittal of this inspection report honest? 

Is our team member being forthright?

Is our leadership making decisions that are not just right for the bottom line of the company but right for its people?

There are numerous opportunities on a daily basis to get this value wrong. It is the reason why we also have forgiveness on our list. Forgiveness and forthright go hand-in-hand. Often we get stuck in trying to understand the real definition of forthright. In simple terms, it’s living by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as we want to be done to ourselves

The Golden Rule is not easy in business; however, we make every effort to never compromise our forthright. 

Questions for you: 

Is forthright important to you? 

Why is it important? How do you use forthright on a daily basis? 

What is the time that you wished your business partner or client used the forthright value system with you? 


Share your experiences with us here


Core Values: Friendly

“We keep a friendly atmosphere, we love what we do, and we want to show it on through!” 

Friendly is an attribute that can play its part in every moment of a day. From how you answer the phone, to how you react to a team member, to the email you send to a disgruntled homeowner. 

As a team, we emphasize friendly communication. Communicating our friendliness throughout the day can be difficult with a variety of different distractions. However, if you make it a point to stay curious and keep friendly at the forefront of your mind, relaying a friendly message is quite simple. 

Friendly has to be at the core of your being. Often it is something we have to work on. Yet, just like every value in our value system, we have to constantly work toward it and never think we are “finished”. We fully understand there is not every moment in the day that we show friendliness; however, because it is part of our value it is something we can base our day on. 

Questions for you: 

Do you relate to this value? 

Have you caught one of our employees being friendly? 

What does friendly look like in your place of business? 

Would you like to find out ways to build your business and your client list using a friendly moment?


Why Choose B. Taylor Painting

Here are a few reasons to book your next project with B. Taylor Painting:

  • We keep data points on how much paint is being installed and used on the walls of a building and how much labor is being used so we can accurately understand cost which allows us to understand our price point.
  • We hold communication at a high level of importance for us and our clients.
  • We have a workforce that has been with us for more than 20 years. We believe it says a lot about our ability to retain employees, which brings VALUE to our project management. 

Give us a call when you or your client is considering a new paint project and want to work with a team highly capable of completing an on-time and beautiful project!