Any Paint Stripping Tips or Tricks?
April 16, 2015 8:44 AM   Subscribe

As part of the ongoing effort to spruce up our (relatively) newly bought home, we're currently stripping the paint from our banister. This is proving to be a long and fiddly task - especially as the way it's fitted doesn't really make dismantling it an option (pictures here and here). Do any MeFites have any particular tips or tricks that are worth us knowing about? Or even advice as to things we should definitely avoid?

Our current efforts have largely involved a heat gun and sandpaper, and ultimately we don't mind that it's taking time, but any tips or tricks - particularly related to getting the lingering paint residue off, or the bits that are in places tricky to get the gun into, would be appreciated.
posted by garius to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Next time I strip paint, I'm going to try Soy-Gel paint stripper -- gel, in general, seems to stick to vertical surfaces better than liquid stripper. A gel might also help you get into the bits where the heatgun and sandpaper are having difficulties. I've never tried this particular product, but have had good experiences with other products from this company. Congratulations on the new place!
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:57 AM on April 16, 2015

TIme and repeated applications of heat and stripper chemicals. Use a (dullish) chisel for the tiny little corners with a dremel as a last resort. There is not easy way to get it all.
posted by bartonlong at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2015

What's your end-game here? Repainting, or applying a finish?

I'd hit those broad areas with lingering residue with some 220 sandpaper now.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:13 AM on April 16, 2015

have you tested the paint for lead? If this was painted before around 1970 (I'm estimating in the UK) the paint used could have lead in it and is toxic. Do not continue until you have tested this paint for lead or can otherwise confirm that it does not have lead in it.
posted by at 10:24 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm currently and carefully stripping about six layers of (tested and confirmed) lead paint off of windows in a completely plasticed off and contained fashion using Multistrip, which is available here in the U.S. through one of our megabox home improvement stores but not the other major chain. You might find something similar at a specialty paint store.

Do test for lead, and if it comes back positive after you've already been doing removal efforts, test yourselves for lead.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:31 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used the Soy-Gel that MonkeyToes mentioned and it was effective enough, though we had to leave it on for hours longer than the label recommended to get good results. Lay down plastic everywhere. It is a gel, but it is not as viscous as you might imagine, and it will run and drip.

I second everything everyone said above about lead. Though the gel can ameliorate some of that risk, scraping and sanding will throw dust no matter what you do.

Good scrapers will be your best tool. That, and patience. (We used scrapers much like these: )
posted by minervous at 2:02 PM on April 16, 2015

Hopefully, you do not have milk paint, which is a true pain to deal with. It was spendy but effective but Peel Away seemed to work with fiddly stuff BUT you will still need dental picks if you have A LOT of detail work.
posted by jadepearl at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2015

This thread might help.
posted by H21 at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2015

Get a Speedheater. We started with Soy Gel, and it does work. But it does take hours, and after those hours you may find that you didn't apply it thick or evenly enough, and you've got to wait more hours for the follow up coat.
posted by hwyengr at 11:36 PM on April 16, 2015

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