If you’ve decided that the old paint is in such bad condition that the only solution is to strip it and start again, you are faced with a choice of methods. Choosing the right one can save you time, effort and money. There are three options — physical removal, chemical strip-ping and heat.
Physical removal means scraping or sanding off the paint coat. By hand, using a shave-hook or glasspaper and a block, it can be very hard work. But for small areas — particularly where the paint is already loose — it is a quick and simple way to deal with the problem of paint in pock’ condition.
The alternative is an electric sander. Although these are fast and efficient, it’s easy to remove more material than you want —particularly with sanding disc drill attach-ments, which tend to leave swirl marks on the surface. And sanders can’t deal with mouldings — they tend to flatten them — so they are best used where you have a large. Flat area to deal with. A further problem is the dust they create. Wearing a mask to prevent you from breathing it in still leaves you with the problem of getting rid of the dust before you paint.
Chemical Paint Stripping
Painting & Decorating:
How To Strip Gloss Paint With Minimal Mess Or Effort
Chemical stripping generally means using one of the proprietary pastes or gels, brushed or trowelled onto the surface. These then soften and blister the paint, allowing it to be easily scraped or peeled off. For precise details of using any particular product, follow the maker’s instructions.
Strippers of this type are caustic, so you must wear protective clothing — in particular rubber gloves and eye protection. Any splashes which get on you must be washed off immedi-ately, so ventilate the area and avoid naked flames. Always follow safety instructions.
There are two things to ensure with chemical strippers: that you leave the stripper on for long enough, and that you remove all traces. Where the old paint is thick, it can take a long time to penetrate; and sometimes a second application will be necessary.
When you have removed all the old paint, wash the wood down thoroughly. If you leave any What to use depends on the type of stripper —some use plain water, others a solvent such as white spirit.
The chief disadvantages of chemical strip-ping are that it is expensive to treat a large area, and that it can be very messy.
Keep plenty of sheets of newspaper handy for wrapping up the stripped paint. It will stick to anything it touches and later harden. And the residue of stripper in it can affect other painted or plastic surfaces.
There is an alternative for anything you can easily remove — like a door — and that is to send or take it for commercial stripping.
There are various processes, but most use a bath of caustic soda or similar. It’s relatively cheap — even it if sounds a lot, it takes a surprising amount of expensive stripper to do a door by hand — and fuss-free. The biggest disadvantage is that with most processes you have to let the wood dry out for a long time afterwards, and it can also weaken the joints. Heat is a cheap and effective way to soften and lift old paint so that it can easily be scraped off.
The traditional tool is a blowlamp — nowadays powered by butane gas. You can get special paint stripping heads for these to fan the flame over a wide area.
It takes some care to use a blowlamp properly. As there is a naked flame, you must never point it at anything inflammable — and you mustn’t work close to glass as the heat may crack it. The knack of using it is to apply just enough heat to soften the paint (too much and it, or the wood underneath, may burn) and then to scrape it off before it has time to harden. Play the flame from side to side to avoid overheating and hold the scraper at an angle so that the hot shreds of paint do not fall on your hands. Work from the bottom upwards and have a tin handy to catch shreds.
Never forget the risk of fire. One particular hazard is if any of the shreds of paint are burning, they can fall onto your dust sheets and set light to them. Cover the area below you with something that won’t burn and have a bucket of water to hand.
Many of the risks of a blowlamp can be avoided with an electric hot air stripper. This looks like an overgrown hair drier — which is exactly what it is. It is used in much the same way as a blowlamp, but as there is no naked flame, there is no fire risk.
They are reasonably cheap to buy if you have a lot of stripping to do — when set against the price of chemical stripper — and they can be hired from tool hire shops.