Sand Blast, Bead Blast, or? ....... rusty painted railings

For a DIY project, I wonder if it is doable to remove old chipped/flaking paint and lots of rust from exterior railings and ballusters. I have seen mention of sand-blasting or bead blasting outfits that run with a compressor. Have no clue about the practicality or type of equipment needed. Other options, I suppose, would be to sand down the paint and grind the deeper rust (mainly at bottoms of ballusters and the anchors that go into concrete). If it is doable for a DIYer, is the mess containable? This is in a small condo, and replacement is really not a supportable option. Folks want the building to take care of itself :o)
I've done lots of painting and repairing around the house, but no heavy duty stuff. It would be wiser, probably, to have the things cut off and removed, the concrete patched and new railings installed, but I'm not the decision maker.
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How about a metal rotating brush on a drill?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Tried that once on a metal picnic table, and found it a waste of time. Poor technique? :o)
The rusty railings are "serious" rust - about 1x1", rusted through almost entirely in places. Got enough metal left to hang on :o)
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Sand blasting is MUCH slower than wire brushing. It'll do a better job, of course, but it is slow work and makes a huge mess. You'll get sand in places you never thought possible.
How about this:
http://www.por15.com /
-rev
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chipped/flaking
seen
the
Your insurance company wants you to repair or replace them. God forbid a weak spot fails and a non-resident takes a tumble. I'd use an angle grinder to cut them loose (by cutting the screws or the sockets), and take them to a shop that does metal railings for sandblast and repair/replace of failed components. After repair, powder coat- modern coatings will last decades. Put up a temporary rail of plain 2x4 while they are gone. No, it won't be cheap, but sometimes expensive repairs can't be put off when the downside is expensive liability. Install new sockets with suitable drill'n'anchors, and probably some epoxy as needed.
aem sends....
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Whoa! Remove? Sand blast? Powder coat?
Can you sayyyyyyyyyy money?
If the things are cancerous, they need to be tossed. If they are rusted through in places, those places can be replaced. If it is surface rust, a grunt and an electric brush and a few hours will get them in shape to paint. A couple of heavy coats of primer and Rustoleum rust resistant paint will do it.
Start with an awl. If you can poke through anywhere, you need to replace some short pieces. Easily done with a MIG welder. If you can poke through everywhere, it is time to replace them all. Replacement in .120" tube or even a schedule 40 pipe will be a simple matter, and the angles are pre made. Schedule 40 pipe will last longer than you will.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY cheaper than removal, blasting, and powder coating. If you need to replace, rent a core driller, and remove the plug from around the rusted member that goes into the concrete. Use PourCrete to cement in the new sections, and drill a hole to fill the inside so it doesn't hold the water and rust like the old ones did. Don't cheap out on the paint, as that is the weak link.
Unless it is totally cancerous, fixing it is going to be cheaper than replacing it, and removing, powdercoating it, and reinstalling is the most expensive route.
Just MHO from nine years as a licensed steel erector contractor in the State of Nevada doing ornamental metal.
Steve
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Norminn wrote:

does the rust compromise the strength of the railing? can it safely take code loading?
If the rust doesn't reduce the strength & you don't have 100's of feet to clean up........
I'd use a 4.5" angle grinder with a wire brush and follow up w/ rusty metal primer
You can do the job a little at a time.
but if the strength is in question, replace or structurally repair it.
cheers Bob
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SandBlasting is the best method but hard to contain, unless you can bring the rails to a shop I wouldn't recommend this in your environemnt. I'd suggest a grinder with a wire brush on it and then a good "Direct to Rust" paint. Less mess than sandblasting but not a perfect finish. Sandblasting would be considered a "restore" of the rails or something along those lines. In my area it would cost about $200 a day to rent a compressor and sandblaster.

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who ever said sand blasting is slow is using the wrong compressor and medium. There is a reason this is used industrial instead of wire brushing.
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