Stripping Interior & Exterior Paint Finishes

When stripping paint from a home built before 1978, test the paint for lead. You can strip finishes by heat-gun stripping, chemical strippers, scraping, or sanding. These are the more primary method of stripping. Chemical strippers which are the least damaging to the surface work best at removing paint from fine woodwork or irregular surfaces, as well as the safest way to remove paint that contains lead. Remember to wear rubber or neoprene gloves, eye protection and organic vapour respirator with new cartridges when using chemical strippers. Make sure that the work area has good ventilation. A combination of heat-gun and stripper is ideal when you want to strip paint off a wall that’s to be repainted. Fill nicks and gouges before painting. Use the heat gun on flat expanses and a chemical stripper on details. Remember to have a fire extinguisher (or a bucket of water) on hand in case the wood begins to burn when using a heat-gun.

Once you’ve applied the stripper (use one or more thick coats), do not scrape too soon. The layers of paint should be easy to lift with a scraper or a plastic household spatula. When you’re working on a vertical surface, protect the work area by taping masking tape around a plastic floor covering, and then a layer of newpaper on top to absorb the sludge. Use a large body scraper/spatula. When stripping woodwork, protect the walls by taping newpapers to them.


Preparing Exterior Siding for Painting

Prepping your exterior walls before painting is crucial for a lasting paint work. Paint that has begun to fail and fade must be completely removed so that the new coat of paint will adhere properly. 

  • Hose down the siding and scrub off with a stiff-bristle brush mounted on a broomstick-type pole. Use a solution of water and trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a nonphosphate substitute to clean the area, making sure that you follow label directions. Do not use this solution on bare wood because it is caustic, and always REMEMBER to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles.
  • Use a scrapper to scrap off paint or a power sander to remove large areas of paint (or to smooth down roughly scraped surfaces). Work in 3 foot sections at a time when using a sander and move horizontally across from top in a wave-like pattern across the middle, then along the underside of the lip. 7 inch sander works best for big commercial-grade jobs, and are used to smooth the edges of scraped areas or to clear an entire surface of paint. They can either be bought or rented from an equipment rental company.
  • Sanding is done in two stages, completely removed the paint with coarse sandpaper like a 60-grit, then smooth the area with medium sandpaper (100-grit).

Remember to follow precautions when sanding:

  • Run the sander at full speed before touching the wheel to the surface.
  • Lean on the tool slightly when you bring the sander into contact with the wall, and keep moving it along the surface so as not to gouge the wood.
  • Sand surfaces at a 5 to 10 degrees angle (to the wall) to avoid the wheel from spinning out of control across the surface.
  • Discard sanding disks as they become clogged with paint; otherwise, they will burn the surface.
  • Do not use a power sander in the rain.
  • Use a putty knife and apply exterior spackling compound to fill any holes or deep gouges. If you a planning to apply a semitransparent stain, use a matching wood-toned filler. Allow the spackling compound to dry. Then, use a sanding block or a palm sander with 100-grit sandpaper to sand each patch until it is smooth. Sweep away residual dust and scrapings.