Home Improvements

How to Strip Paint from Wood?

When you want to repaint a surface, you can save your time if the surface is properly prepared. When the previous paint surface is sound, you have to rub it down with a medium sandpaper, dust off and the surface will be ready for the first coat..

There are three basic ways of stripping paint from wood: hand sanding, mechanical, heat and chemicals. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes using a mixture of methods will be appropriate. When you are using a method, it is always better trying it out on a hidden area first to know how it works.

Hand sanding:

This method is useful for complete stripping where a very thin coat of paint has to be removed. First use coarse sandpaper. When the grain begins to appear shift to medium grade. In case of flat surfaces, wrap the sandpaper around a wood or cork block. You need plenty of effort even with a thin coat of paint. It is not useful for carved or shaped timber.

You can reduce the amount of dust by using wet and dry sandpaper with a wetting of water. Its better avoiding this if you want to varnish the wood to show natural grain. The grain will absorb the dust paste and its removal requires drier sanding. When you undertake wet sanding, ensure that the wood is allowed to fully dry out before the final dry sanding and painting.

Mechanical sanding:

A Sanding Drum is a fast and effective method for stripping paint. It comprises a foam drum with an abrasive belt attached to it. The belt should be used along the grain in order to avoid any scuff across the grain of the wood. The sanding drum is a quick and efficient tool. But it produces large amounts of dust. It only moves in a single, linear direction. So there is a risk of score marks on the surface.

Sanding drums are available with various grades of abrasive, from coarse to fine. Use the appropriate grade for the stage of sanding. Start with a coarse grade, Change to a fine grade when the grain becomes exposed. Do not use only one grade. The job may take longer than necessary, if only a fine grade is used. The finish may be disappointing, if only a course or medium grade is used. But a sanding drum is not good for carved or shaped timber as it flattens the detail.

Using heat to strip paint :

With the help of blowtorches and heat guns you can strip paint. The former uses a naked flame to heat the paint while the latter uses just heated air. Whatever tool you use to heat the paint, you need a number of scrapers to remove the paint. Various types of scrappers are available – straight edge, convex, concave, pointed – to suit the timber profile being stripped

Keep in mind that the flame or hot air can cause damage around the area of application. So keep away from plastics and fabrics. It will be safe to wear a pair of heavy-duty gloves and protective goggles.

Using chemicals:

One can strip complete items by dipping them in a tank of chemical solution. Chemical stripper may be use only to moulding and shapes where their use is unsurpassed. They work best on thin coats of paint where one application can remove the paint back to bare wood. But thicker coatings may require two or three applications.

Generally two forms of chemical strippers are available – a gel type liquid which has to be applied by brush and a paste type which is laid over the paint. Whatever type you may use, know that it is a form of corrosive. So if it is not possible to take the piece of work out of doors, protect the surround decoration to avoid accidental splashes and drips.

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