Paint Stripping Techniques

Home Improvement Smart

If you are a homeowner, crafter, or seasoned professional and everything in between and you are in the process of, or thinking about starting a new home improvement project that involves stripping stain or paint then this article is for you. Each product or technique will be explained and the pros and cons revealed. The least inexpensive product might not actually be the cheapest purchase in the long run. Also, safety for you and the people in your surrounding have to be considered when starting a refinishing project. Choosing the right stripper for the right job is a simple task once you have all the facts.

Traditional Paint Stripper

Very well suited to strip pieces of furniture regardless if it is painted or stained, strips trim and doors with ease. Not recommended on walls because of the expense and possible  saturation of the chemical into the surface which may reactivate when finish painting.

The use of a traditional paint stripper is a great solution as long as you follow the manufacturers recommendations,  proper air circulation and proper personal protection are both required as paint strippers are usually very caustic. The use of safety goggles and rubber gloves is recommended when using this product – it can cause burn and irritation on skin equal to using easy off oven cleaner.  Another consideration would be to tape off areas that you don’t want to strip.

One of the standard strippers is “Rock Miracle” and you can find it in any hardware or paint store, while you are there purchase a plastic bucket to pour the stripper into, metal paint buckets tend to corrode. From personal experience the application is easy, use a china bristle brush to apply a heavy coat usually in one or two strokes and work in small areas at a time. Scrape off and repeat. Once you are satisfied with result wipe down with denatured alcohol to neutralize the surface, then sand, paint, or stain your project.

Paste Strippers

Paste strippers work exactly the same way as traditional strippers but with one major difference they are usually not caustic in nature and tend to be environmentally friendly. When working at home especially when children are present this might be the right avenue to take. They are also tend to be thicker in consistency which allows for less dripping when working on vertical projects such as doors and crown molding. The negative on these is they also tend to take more effort when stripping your project. The cost is also a bit higher than the traditional strippers, but much safer and non flammable. Ask your local hardware store representative for a superior product in the water based strippers.

Peel Away Stripper and Paper System

One of my top favorite strippers to get larger jobs done without any major effort like stripping many layers of paint off the brick wall that you want to expose. Great for complicated dental crown molding or that eye sore of a front door with 10 coats of peeling paint. This stripper is exactly the same as the paste stripper but works a little differently. You apply the paste onto your surface that needs stripping and you cover it with a special paper with a plastic backing, then walk away and enjoy the rest of the day. Twenty four hours later you remove the paper with a spackling knife and 95 % of the paint is stuck on the paper. No fuss and no mess. We recently used this product on some brick walls in a garden room, the client was thrilled that she didn’t even want them to be painted, had a fantastic patina but the red brick was clean. Very safe around the home and children with no fumes or caustic side effects. The price per gallon is the same as paste but you have the additional expense of the paper. Depending on the project size this might be the most cost effective method. It allows you to concentrate on other projects while the paste system works for you.

Heat Guns

The heat gun is a great tool as long as you follow strict safety guidelines and keep this tool away from children. When properly used it can strip doors, trim, and details with great ease. The heat settings on most heat guns range between 800-1200 degrees on the more casual home usage brands and cost in the $20-$30 range. The more professional version have almost the same heat settings but you can also adjust the settings down to 130 degrees and they tend to cost about $130 and are usually of a much better build. You should always wear safety goggles and gloves when working with this tool. Start heating the surface by slowly moving in a circular pattern, when the surface just begins to bubble insert your putty knife and push away from you following the heat gun. Takes some practice to get your mojo going but once established its sort of a relaxing endeavour. Safety should be really observed when using this tool, have a working fire extinguisher close by and stop working at least half hour before leaving the area just to make sure.

Note: If you are unsure of the paint that you are about to strip please stop…Drive over to your hardware store and purchase a simple test kit. If its lead paint don’t use the heat gun and consult a professional painter to take a look. Estimates are usually free.

More Informed and Safer

Now that you have some more information on paint stripping techniques and products you can now begin the process of looking around your home to see what needs a facelift. Just remember that safety when working on projects or home improvements should always be your first concern. Have fun and let me know if anything was missed that you would like more information on.