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Paint Removal – Tips and Techniques

Paint Removal -  Tips and Techniques

Choose the Right Product

Paint removers are not all created equal. Grab the wrong product from the shelf and you can easily get poor performance. Take 10 - 15 minutes while at the store to READ THE LABEL. Note what surfaces it will harm. Pay attention to the consistency of the finish removal solvent. If you are working on a vertical surface or a ceiling, the stripper better be a paste or a very thick gel.

Do Finish Removal Chemicals Leave Behind Harmful By-Products?

Not really. The active chemical ingredients may cause you the user to get sick if you inhaled the fumes for hours on end. However, once the paint or clear finished is removed and you wipe the surface with clear mineral spirits, you will be OK. This is true even if you are stripping baby furniture!

Required Materials to do Stripping Work

You will need rubber gloves, eye goggles, plastic sheeting to protect floors and surrounding objects, paper towels, a plastic or steel container to place stripped paint in, toothpicks for fine detail work, a stripping pad, plenty of steel wool, different scraping tools and regular tools to remove hardware.

Getting Ready to Strip

Paint that is transformed back into a liquid state by stripper will stick again to a surface. For this reason you must put down drop cloths to protect objects from the gooey paint. Newspapers or cardboard will work fine in small areas. Work in a well ventilated area but do not place a fan near where you are working. Wind will cause the strippers to dry prematurely. Excessive heat will also decrease the performance of strippers. You will get great results working in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Stripper Application

This is a critical aspect of the job. You absolutely must follow the directions on the can. Each product is different! For example, some thick gel strippers must NOT be brushed on like paint. You can only brush in one direction. Read the label and pay attention.

Sit Back and Relax

The biggest mistake people make with strippers is removing them too early. A stripper will develop a protective skin or sometimes appear dried out. In many instances it is still working. You need to leave it alone and once again follow the instructions for dwell time - the time the paint removers must sit and work.

Scraping and Rinsing

Plastic scraping tools work best. Hard metal scrapers can gouge wood softened by the stripper. Use toothpicks or large hardwood splinters to remove paint from grooves. A stripping pad dipped in mineral spirits will remove the fine paint film after you have scraped away the heavy deposits. Steel wool should only be used on varnish only.

Author's Note: We've received other questions about similar problems. Here's one from Leigh, in Columbus, OH.

"I have a cement pad/stoop located in front of my front door. The previous owners painted this a dark brown. The paint is chipping off. I was wondering if you could please tell me how to remove this paint? The pad is in good condition, and I would much rather prefer a 'natural' cement color! Thank you! "

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