All services

Surface Preparation - Steel


The basis for a better bond

The most common cause of premature coating failure on steel structures – such as bridges, storage tanks and vessels – is poor surface preparation.

Steel storage tanks pose an infrequent but labour-intensive maintenance worry to operators over their lifetime. Unwanted corrosion, caused by a build-up of condensation on the steel substrate, can contaminate liquids and quickly degrade the material investment they contain.

Fortunately, RGL offers a non-abrasive ultra-high pressure water jetting solution that has proven ideal for removing; rust, paint, lead primers, oil, grease, bitumen, epoxies, salts and other non-visual contaminants to provide long-lasting corrosion protection.

Get a quote

A cleaner, quicker method

Hydroblasting in surface preparation works in a similar way to sand or gritblasting (ie. removing the coating and leaving the tank surface prepared for painting) but using only water, so no abrasive to clean up.

Our remote-operated suction-based robots move up and down tanks while aiming a UHP water jet at the surface. No costly scaffolding or sheeting is required. The limpet can also operate horizontally, vertically or even upside down.

With vacuum recovery incorporated, water jetting not only simplifies disposal but leaves a clean surface — free of flash rusting and ready to recoat.

The same technique can also be used on ships, heat exchangers, pipelines and other large-scale industrial structures. In smaller areas, our hand-held water jets and rotating nozzles can achieve the same results.

Watch our Surface Preparation Video

Polyurethane Foam (PUF) Removal

With insulated or heated storage tanks, access to the corroding steel often lies beneath thick layers of PUF foam insulation which needs to be removed.

The machines are self-supporting and can be remotely operated from the ground or from a MEWP. RGL's Rover, a 4WD surface preparation robot can tackle coatings up to 80mm in thickness and is remotely operated making it ideal for when the structure may not be safe enough to access in person.

For contractors working an explosive or hazardous site, or where the environmental impact on the surrounding areas is a critical issue, and safety is paramount. rest assured RGL’s surface preparation systems are refinery ready, hydraulically powered, and fitted with Chalwyn valves and spark arrestors.


Our machinery

The Limpet

The “Limpet” – A remotely controlled machine which adheres to the surface being prepared by suction. This principle of operation has earned the machine the nick name of “Limpet” which has been deployed on many projects where a fast, safe, clean and effective coating removal system has been required over a large surface area. This hydraulically driven machine is equipped with a set of rotating jets. The jets “hybroblast” the surface with Ultra-high-pressure water which removes any coating or covering. The vacuum system not only holds the machine to the surface but also serves as a water and debris collection system.


The Rover

The “Rover” – A similar machine to the limpet but equipped with 4 wheels as opposed to a suction skirt and is ideal for horizontal surfaces like tanks roofs and floors. This machine was originally designed to remove insulation from a steel tank roof which was deemed unfit for people to walk on and needed to be inspected. Our brief was to remove the insulation remotely to facilitate this inspection. As with the limpet, a vacuum system collects the water and debris.

Need our help? Contact our team today for more information on our water jetting solutions for surface preparation.

Get a quote


Hydroblasting using clean water without abrasive is now accepted as a highly versatile and effective method for the removal of coatings and corrosion to produce a clean surface for immediate re-painting.

  • Creates microscopic pockets on the steel surface to which protective coatings readily adhere.
  • Leaves a warm surface from which traces of residual water quickly dry.
  • Highly effective at removing most soluble salts and other non-visual chemical contaminants from the steel surface – which can affect the durability of the coating system.
  • Ultra-high-pressure means relatively low volumes of water are used and this keeps treatment costs to a minimum.
  • No abrasive is used to minimise clean up (abrasive blasting uses in the region of 25 KG of abrasive to blast each square metre).
  • A hydroblasted surface that complies with BS EN ISO 8501-4, water jetting standard Wa2½ meets the technical requirements of coating manufacturers for most maintenance and painting applications.
Doing it right

Case Study

Petrochemical, Oil and Gas: Tank Surface Preparation

Utilising two different water jetting methods, RGL delivered a corrosion and coatings removal service to Perenco, leaving a clean, dry and dust-free surface to with which to apply a new protective coating.

BP Perenco - Surface Preparation Corrosion and Coating Removal on Floating Steel Tank Roof

Need help finding the service that’s right for you?

RGL are your interface between water jetting technology and the job to be done. If you’ve been tasked with a project that could do with our help we would love to hear all about it.

Request a call back