Removing old paint can be challenging, however there are several options available to help make the process easier and safer. Chemical strippers are solvents that come in either liquid or paste and work by softening the old finish so that it can be easily removed. They are great for complex shapes such as moldings and many brands have low odors and clean up with water.
Heat guns are also a great way to remove old paint, varnish and other finishes. They are especially good at taking off multiple layers of paint all at once. The heat gun softens the paint causing it to bubble up making it easy to remove with a metal scraper. See the steps for using a heat gun below.
|Pour a small amount of the stripper into a convenient glass or metal container, and apply it as specified on the label. It's best to start at the top of your project, and work your way down. Take the time to work it into hard-to-reach places.|
|Sprinkle a light coating of sawdust over the stripper just before you remove it. The sawdust thickens the stripper, making it easier to remove.|
|Reapply the stripper to detailed or problem areas, and use specialty scrapers to remove the softened material. Use light pressure on the scrapers to keep from tearing or gouging the wood. If you can’t find a contoured scraper, use the corner of a putty knife.|
|Scrub the entire project with nylon brushes or abrasive pads to remove all traces of the old finish and the stripper sludge.|
|With the heat gun running, point the nozzle at the work surface, keeping it about 2 inches away. Move the gun back and forth across the surface until the paint begins to bubble and blister. Stop if the finish begins to smoke!|
|Hold the putty knife at about a 30-degree angle and, use it like a plow to push the paint away. Avoid gouging the wood. Dump the softened paint sludge into an old coffee can as you work. Special paint scrapers with angled blades work better than most ordinary scrapers.|
|You'll want to go back over detailed areas with the heat gun, using a contoured scraper to get into narrow crevices.|
|Any stubborn flecks that remain can usually be removed by using just the scraper. Again, be careful not to damage the work surface. When the paint is all gone, wash the surface with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits.|
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