Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

Removing paint from a surface can be done in several ways. Power tooling and abrasive cleaning are just two. Sand dry media blasting can be used to remove a large amount of paint effectively. But, it’s a rather involved process equipment-wise.


The removal of paint using a chemical method in that it lifts the paint from the surface in a far less labor intensive manner. Basically, you have to put up with the smell.


Below is a list of items you will need:


  1. Chemical stripper, paste or liquid. (I recommend Air Craft Stripper or Bix brand.)
  2. Lacquer thinner – for residue removal and as an aid to drying.
  3. Assorted brushes – stainless steel and nylon.
  4. Steel wool – # 1-3.
  5. Scotch pads – coarse.
  6. Rubber gloves -Neoprene.


The effectiveness of a remover depends on several things. They center on time, saturation of said surface, and type of film to be removed.


Below are some parameters to  go by:


  1. Determine basic film thickness or number of layers. In part, this will determine what type of remover to use: mild, medium, industrial strength or mastic barrier stripper. For qualified persons only.


  1. If you can, determine what type of material it is that you need to remove. This too will help you determine the remover type.


  1. Determine the surface’s level of saturation, test the material by using a small sample of stripper or nail polish remover. This will tell you how easily the material softens. Note: If, after applying the test, nothing bubbles or wrinkles, then the chances are that the material in question will require the strongest stripper you can find.


  1. As a general rule, when the remover test is applied, determine the time it takes for the surface material to alligator or wrinkle.


Rule of thumb: After applying remover:


  1. Surface wrinkles appear in 30 seconds or less: very easy to remove; use nylon brush.
  2. Surface wrinkles appear in 3 minutes or less: Scrape surface, reapply remover.
  3. Surface wrinkles appear in 5-10 minutes or longer: Use stronger stripper.


Methodology for using paint and varnish remover:


  1. Wear appropriate protective gear and clothing – eg. long pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves, and eye protection. I consider the eyes safety and gloves the priority.


  1. Work in well ventilated area. Set up fan to move fresh air in. If possible, work outside.


  1. Remove all hardware from object, as required: handles, knobs and so forth.


  1. Liberally apply stripper, covering surface with an even thickness.


  1. When paint or clear finish film starts to craze (slightly crack), the chemical is beginning to soften the underlying material. When surface has thoroughly wrinkled, use plastic or metal scrapper to remove top layers.


  1. If more material remains, apply additional remover. And wait the designated time for re-activation. When further wrinkling appears, scrape surface until there is little sight of the paint material.


  1. When you are refinishing stained wood, additional remover must be applied to draw out stain color.


  1. Once that is completed and the wood is dry, a bleach and or lacquer thinner can be used to remove more color and to dry the surface.


  1. After stripping application is completed, wash the surface completely with lacquer thinner. Let dry. Once dry, you can initiate the sanding process.


Using a paint stripper is a process which requires good judgment. The job is a whole lot easier if you can determine the rate at which the material is coming off.


Otherwise, like I have seen, a person can take all day trying to strip the varnish off of a door. They don’t know the proper signs to look for. Soon they become frustrated, even impatient, possibly upset.


FINAL TIP: Start with a small project or surface. Take your time. Work carefully. Respect both the characteristics of the surface, and the components of the remover. And, you’ll do fine.



Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


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