Stripping Stain with Corn Cobs and Black Walnut Shells

In the past decade a revolutionary method has surfaced to strip old stain from any exterior wooden structure. This sustainable practice, called “media blasting,” has evolved to include various options, including corncobs, black walnut shells and glass beads. Professionals have incorporated such technology in removing “failed” stain from log structures and, therefore, have strayed from traditional use of harsh chemicals. According to Dave Hoffman of Log Building Solutions, chemicals used in the restoration industry are not environmentally friendly. ‘The problem with chemicals is that they go everywhere so not only do you have to worry about plants and the surrounding landscape but also nearby water sources,” Hoffman said.


© Photograph: Log Building Solutions

A popular form of media blasting, known as “corncob blasting,” uses certain parts of a corncob to strip “failed” stain from any wooden exterior. Functioning almost like an hourglass, the corn media poured into a pot flows downward through an air compressor and gets smaller and smaller until air hits the mixture from the side. Corn fragments are then directed through a 20-foot hose until finally shooting from a nozzle to effectively strip the finish. “I still get a kick out of seeing it work every time,” exclaimed Wally Young of Log Home Medics, a Log Building Solutions’ contractor. “You see a house that just looks really bad; but, once you go in and media blast, you basically have a new home.” Even a new house can be lightly “cob blasted,” which allows it to be better prepared for staining.



While both corncob fragments and glass pellets are equally sustainable solutions, some prefer glass pellets because they turn to dust on impact. On the other hand, corn fragments are still visible after a house is blasted. “You could walk around in your bare feet, and it wouldn’t even matter with glass pellets,” explained Young. In addition, pellets are derived from glass bottles that would normally have gone into landfills. Still, corncob blasting has an added bonus: Leftover corncob fragments can be collected and reused on other building exteriors two more times.

With the variety of sustainable options, though, a homeowner can media blast just one time and, with proper maintenance, never need to do it again. For more information on Log Building Solutions, please go to or call toll-free 800-284-6520.