They don't call it contact paper for nothin'
May 5, 2005 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Old house, new to me, lots of quirks we're trying to fix. The old owner put clear contact paper on the garage windows, then painted the contact paper. He's been dead for fifteen years so this is old, tough glue.

The plastic/paper peels off in very small bits. I've tried: gasoline, WD-40, acetone, and Glue Gone. I've tried saturating the windows, wiping them, and just peeling bit by bit, then using acetone on the remaining stickiness on the window. Any other suggestions?
posted by pomegranate to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
Scraper and razor blades, assisted when needed by some kind of lube. I'd recommend goof-off, acetone, mineral spirits, etc.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:02 AM on May 5, 2005

I used "Goof Off" on some sticky stuff from an old sticker on my car window that nothing else including razor blades would touch. It's becoming my default product. Are you sure it wouldn't be easier to just replace the glass in the windows? If you want to try "Goof Off" you should be able to find it in any hardware store.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:32 AM on May 5, 2005

blow dryer set on high razor blade with handle, attack!
posted by hortense at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2005

try a can of compressed air turned upside down. Spray that on the edge of the contact paper. It should seperate the plastic from the glue. After you peel off the plastic, use standard napthat to remove the glue.

this works great on pinball playfields that have been covered with adhesive mylar, which is basically contact paper.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2005

I'll put in a third vote for Goof Off. It comes in an aerosol can (it sort of looks like a spray paint can). Around here, I've only seen it at Wal-Mart, though I'd still suggest checking your local hardware store first.

All the other suggestions sound good too, and I imagine you'll end up needing some sort of hybrid since a solvent alone probably won't make it through the Con-Tac paper. You'll probably either have to nibble at the edges with a solvent, or get the paper peeling with heat or cold (probably leaving a sticky film) then remove the stickiness separately.
posted by afiler at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2005

New windows?
posted by elisabeth r at 10:55 AM on May 5, 2005

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, but was reminded by the hair dryer thing: a heat gun may help blister and bubble it off the window. We careful, as you might have some risk of breaking the glass doing this (although I don't think it's all that risky)
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:25 AM on May 5, 2005

Heat gun will break that glass so quick you won't believe it. As someone who is in the middle of restoring 29 historic wood windows, I know this for a fact. Sigh.

I'd give the Goof-Off a try.
posted by jeanmari at 11:30 AM on May 5, 2005

Yeah, you would have to be very careful with a heat gun. Goof-off is a mixture of several solvents, like xylene, toluene, naptha, etc.. I forgot the exact mixture, but it is very effective in general use. A pure solvent of the right type might be more effective, but I don't know which.

It is also pretty bad for the nervous system. If it comes in an AEROSOL, that's nuts. Some guy without a mask, spraying goof-off in his garage is just waiting to be sick.

Just use a neoprene glove, a sponge, and a paint scraper. Because it's the glue that you really want to hit, I would start from the top, and let the solvent do some work, and then pick down at it.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:47 AM on May 5, 2005

i was going to suggest a heat gun but didn't think that it might break the glass...I think it would be safer and worth a shot to try a regular hair dryer at least. I'd try the nasty chemicals as the last option.
posted by jacobsee at 12:10 PM on May 5, 2005

How much do you value your time and how is your level of frustration tolerance? If the first is high or the second is low, I'd think hard about the new glass alternative. Simple plate glass is not that expensive nor is it hard to install. And being adept with glazing is a good skill to have. Plus the existing glazing is probably in pretty bad shape and probably already needs replacing.
posted by rtimmel at 12:36 PM on May 5, 2005

Step one: razor scraper.
Step two: use rag dipped in lamp oil to remove any remaining residue. Lamp oil is somewhat less noxious than the stuff in Goof Off, but quite effective at cutting through adhesives.
Step three: Use whatever lamp oil is left over to fill a tiki torch and have a luau to celebrate your cleaned windows.
posted by adamrice at 12:41 PM on May 5, 2005

I'd try some paint stripper that clings, you might try the aircraft style that comes in a spray can. It will have methylene chloride in it (Dichloromethane), so don't breathe it or get it on your hands. Cover it with saran wrap (it will stick to the goopy surface) to prevent evaporation. Then just wait, it should soak through the plastic, given enough time. Scrape then clean up with acetone or some other thinner. It will remove any paint that it touches, so be careful (also, don't leave it where kids might get ahold of it).
posted by 445supermag at 12:47 PM on May 5, 2005

I used to do this sort of thing all the time. Find a solvent that will make the residue slimy (sounds like you already have). Let it sit for 5 minutes or so, then scrape with a new razor blade. Have a few of these handy as well as a supply of newspaper into which you can drop the glop. It shouldn't take too long.
posted by kc0dxh at 2:46 PM on May 5, 2005

Never heard of Goof Off before, but it looks like it's benzene based. I worked in a frame shop where we used benzene to clean all sorts of adhesives off of old artwork and frames. It worked really well.
posted by bendybendy at 9:30 PM on May 5, 2005

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