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Preparing to decorate: Best removal methods for stripping poor paint


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

Preparing to decorate: Best removal methods for stripping poor paint

Sometimes it can take a little extra effort to remove paint. Use these techniques and you will be able remove any tough bits easily.

Stripping poor paintwork

Paint can be stripped with the help of chemical or heat—often it is best to use a combination of methods. If wood is to be repainted, you won't have to strip off every bit of paint, as you must if you want to varnish the wood.


Using a hot-air gun

Hot-air gun removing paint

A hot-air gun will soften paint so that scrapers can remove it more easily. Some have an attachment to shield glass from heat when stripping window frames. Because of the risk of fire, do not put any newspaper on the floor.

Instead, keep a steel tray (an old baking sheet is fine) below to catch paint peelings. Wear cotton gloves (rubber gloves will make your hands too hot in the heat caused by the gun).

1. Soften the paint by moving the hot-air gun backwards and forwards. The heat is very strong so do not concentrate in one area or you may burn the surface. The paint should soften in seconds.

2. Strip the paint from flat areas with a broad-bladed scraper. Push the tool away from you or upwards. When scraping a vertical surface, make sure your hand is not immediately below the hot paint, which may drop onto it.

3. When using a shave hook on mouldings, hold it at an angle, so that hot paint cannot fall onto your hand.

4. If you accidentally scorch the surface, rub fine abrasive paper along the grain to remove charred wood.

5. Apply a wood primer and paint.



Paint strippers

Chemical removing paint

Chemical strippers are good at removing paint completely from wood, especially if you want to varnish it. Most are applied in liquid form or as a paste. They are useful for stripping window frames, where heat could crack the glass. However, this method can be slow and costly. Always neutralise strippers—as directed on the container—before redecorating.

Using liquid strippers Wear safety goggles and protect your hands with rubber gloves. If you spill any on the skin, wash off immediately. Open all the windows because these products give off strong fumes.

1. Use an old paintbrush to apply liquid stripper. The paint wrinkles and breaks up about 15 minutes after application. Give the stripper enough time to work - if you try to strip the paint too soon it will not come away and another application of stripper will be needed. If you leave it too long, it will dry and begin to harden again.

2. Remove the paint using a shave hook on moulded surfaces - pulling the tool towards you.

3. On flat surfaces, push a wide scraper away from you. A heavy build-up of paint will need more than one application.


Using paste or get strippers 

Use this type of stripper on vertical surfaces. It will not run to the floor, it is easier to control and more effective.

1. Protect the surrounding area with newspaper. Apply the stripper in a thick coat, which will slowly set on the surface with the chemicals work beneath.

2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions; it is usually best to cover the paste with cling film and occasionally spray it with water.

3. After the recommended time (hours rather than minutes), scrape away the paste—it will bring the old paint with it.


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