There are few jobs more unpleasant than paint removal, but there are times when you just have to do it.
If your house is old (pre-1960s) then there is the possibility that the paint contains lead. Lead is poisonous, so stick to the following steps if you are concerned that you may be working with lead paint:
- Burn the paint off with a blowtorch - this will produce lead fumes.
- Sand the paint (either by hand or with a power sander) - this spreads the lead dust everywhere.
- Vacuum the paint dust - the lead particles will pass through the filter into the atmosphere
In fact, the only way to remove lead paint is with a chemical paint stripper (see below).
Before removing any paint, you need to consider the options:
- Is it cheaper to replace the object? This is a valid consideration, especially if you are paying someone else to do the job - the cost of replacement may be less than stripping, undercoating and repainting when you add up all the time involved.
- Can you paint over the existing paint? If it is in decent condition, then you will simply need to sand it and then repaint it.
Your choice for removing paint are to use heat or a chemical paint remover, or, for stone surfaces, sandblasting.
- Hot air: Electric heat guns are far safer than blowtorches for paint removal. You should always safety goggles, and cover all surrounding surfaces with dustsheets. You will also need a scraper. Hold the heat gun close to the paint until the paint bubbles, then scrape it off. This is often easier said than done, as some paints don't bubble up - they simply smear when you try to scrape them.
- Chemical strippers: These are powerful substances, so use them with care - always wear appropriate gloves and goggles, and work in a well-ventilated area. Follow the manufacturer's instructions at all times.