I'm planning to restore some painted wood to a more natural state. A few
years back, using heat to strip old finishes was commonplace and electric
heat guns were flying off the shelves. I only see chemical methods
mentioned now. Is there a good reason for this?
People who kill themselves with heat-sources die right then,
and there's an easy path of causality for the lawyers to follow.
People who kill themselves with chemicals tend to die years
later, which creates plausible deniability.
I've seen heat guns around, and a purchase doesn't involve the FBI,
last I knew. But I'm with Doug Miller on this - I was underwhelmed with
You don't say what or how much wood you're stripping -- if it's a big
job I'd try the chemicals.
It's a GUN. You need a background check to buy any GUN. Apparently
you have not purchased a caulking or staple gun lately. Anyone of any
age can buy a hair dryer, because it's not called a "gun". But a heat
gun requires you to be a legal adult and a FBI and local police
investigation to determine if you are insane, deranged, belong to a
street gang, abuse drugs, or you are a murderer. This is to protect
unsuspecting American women and children from maniacs who run around
the streets with a loaded heat or caulking gun.
If you have a police record, other than parking tickets, you should
use the chemicals. Otherwise a heat gun is faster and less harmful to
your health as long as you follow the instructions so you dont set
your house on fire.
However, I am not sure what you are stripping, but do you really need
to remove ALL the paint? Often a hand scraper and a sander disk on an
electric drill is all you need to remove the loose paint spots, and
leave the solid paint intact. Just use the drill sander to feather
the edges of the scraped areas. If you use a heat gun, you still need
to do this, unless you strip the whole house. If you suspect lead
paint, be sure to wear a mask when you sand the paint, of course this
is good practice no matter the type of paint.
I can't comment on industry trends, but I bought a heat gun and stripped
my front door. I laid it over saw horses, so any fires would be
contained. It worked just fine.
I suppose lead paint could be a concern, and paint remover would keep
lead suspended and contained, whereas a heat gun could generate airborne
Sure - it's because heat guns don't work worth a damn for stripping paint. The
chemical strippers take about one-tenth the time and effort.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt.
And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
They work better on old oil paint not latex, latex actualy melts, oil
bubbles and releases. They are still sold but stripping old oil that
contains lead releases it poisoning you. Pick the right tool - product
for the job.
Chemical strippers are expensive, messy, but do a great job. Torch can
be used outdoors, but run risk of burning/charring wood. Depends on the
job, how much, etc. I've done both. I wouldn't use a torch on antique
furniture, and I wouldn't use chemical stripper to do all the window
frames on the outside of the house.
My experience stripping molding and baseboards last year: the heat gun
was quicker and a lot easier in removing about five layers of paint from
flat surfaces. But not every speck of paint came off, and the heat gun
had to be followed by chemical. Also, the chemical was better for
grooves and carved sections.
Paul in San Francisco
This has been my experience with our old house: heat gun for paint
layers over old varnish (both come off), followed by chemical. But in
some places I have had paint that the heat gun did not touch, and even
chemical was slow and difficult. We are staining the wood, so a chem
strip is necessary after the heat, followed by sanding to get the clean
I am using a chemical stripper purchased from a place in Cleveland,
5-gallon or 1-gallon cans, good price and somewhat better than the Z...
strip that can be bought in stores for $20 or more last time I checked.
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org Youngstown State University
Thanks to all for your responses. It's not a big job - bunch of very basic
kitchen cabinet doors painted over 25 years ago. I'm planning on taking
threm down and doing the job outdoors, not sure whether I'll strip or paint
over the cabinet frames.
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