Why Is Paint Stripping Necessary?Updated: November 20, 2023
When you’re working with metal, wood and other materials, paint stripping is often an important part of the job. Whether you’re looking to repaint your building’s exterior or are repurposing items for a project, paint stripping gets the material ready for a fresh coat.
What Is Paint Stripping?
Paint stripping is a process that uses chemicals, heat, abrasive material or similar methods to remove paint from a surface without damaging the item underneath. Industrial paint stripping is essential across multiple industries, including automotive and restoration, because it’s an effective way to prepare a component for refinishing, resurfacing and reuse. The paint stripping process is a way to preserve one-of-a-kind pieces or cut production costs by repurposing old items for new projects.
When to Strip Paint
Do you have to strip paint before repainting? That depends on your project. Some people choose to skip this important step, but they’re missing out on some of the benefits paint removal provides. Both individuals and businesses have situations where they need to paint strip, and removing old paint gives you a fresh start and a more even new coat of paint.
Some common reasons a project might require paint stripping include:
- Removing lead-based paint: Lead paint isn’t permitted today, but many parts were painted with lead-based paint before we learned how unsafe it is. Lead can have significant health effects on children and adults, including cardiovascular and kidney problems, reproductive issues and even behavior and learning challenges in children. The only way to avoid these effects is to limit exposure to lead paint, so many individuals and businesses have components stripped so they’re safer for reuse and resale. In some cases, a state or local government might mandate lead abatement, which must be carried out by trained and certified professionals.
- Correcting a poor paint job: Stripping paint and starting over is often the only way to correct a poor paint job. It might be time to have a part stripped if it’s chipping prematurely, has uneven coloring or thickness, has built-up layers of paint or was painted with the wrong type of paint or in the wrong color.
- Changing finishes: Some projects call for different finishes than a part was originally coated in, like switching from an oil-based finish to a tinted varnish or similar. The most effective and long-lasting way to refinish an already-painted item is by stripping it and starting over, rather than layering the new finish on top of the old and getting inconsistent results.
- Creating a more workable surface: Some components must be smooth and uniform down to the millimeter, especially delicate parts used in mechanical projects or machinery. Stripping the item’s paint surface and finish is the best way to smooth the surface of any irregularities and ensure a cleaner application.
How to Strip Paint
There are a few different methods for paint removal projects. Some you can try yourself, and others are better suited to be done by professionals.
1. Choose the Right Method for the Project
Some industrial paint stripping methods use a solvent material, which weakens the paint’s adhesion to the surface for easier manual removal. The other method uses chemical strippers to break down the paint layers instead of the paint’s bond to the surface.
Professionals can choose from multiple stripping agents, depending on:
- The type of material they’re working with.
- The type of paint they’re removing.
- How thick or layered the paint is.
- The type of equipment available.
- How the final product will be repurposed.
Options range from heat stripping with steam or heat guns to potentially hazardous chemical substances that require protective equipment to use safely. Another common method is scraping or wire-brushing off the old paint, but keep in mind that the paint shavings need to be properly cleaned up and disposed of.
2. Prepare the Space
Always work in a well-ventilated space, even if you’re not using chemical solvents or stripping agents. Cover everything in protective sheeting, and ensure adequate space between the stripping area and any people or wildlife.
If you’re using a heat-based stripping method, be aware of the temperature in your work area and make changes if necessary.
3. Use Protective Equipment
Be sure to properly protect yourself with adequate safety gear, also available through Finishing Systems. Depending on the application, a face mask may be all that’s required to avoid breathable dust or fumes. Other projects call for more protective gear. Always consider the respiratory effects of your chemical paint stripper or dust before starting a project.
Respiratory equipment is often necessary for safety, even in ventilated spaces. Pair hood, helmet or full face mask respirators with an air pump for continuous clean air and minimal project disruption. You should also invest in goggles, industrial-use disposable gloves and coveralls to protect clothing.
Paint Stripping vs. Abrasive Blasting
Paint stripping can be a highly effective preparation method, but it often requires hazardous chemicals that endanger workers and the environment. It can also be a costly method, depending on the project.
Abrasive blasting is a reliable, cost-effective and highly consistent surface preparation method that’s often safer. Instead of chemically or manually removing paint by eroding its surface bond or breaking the paint down, abrasive blasting uses various blasting media to clean, scale, de-rust and prepare components by directing high-pressure streams of the media directly toward the component’s surface.
Abrasive blasting equipment connects to an air compressor or motor-driven mechanism for continuous operation, making it an ideal fit for time-sensitive projects as well.
Some examples of abrasive media include:
- Glass beads
- Walnut shells
- Corn cob pieces
- Steel grit
Media can typically be captured and reused for future projects, further reducing operational costs and limiting harmful waste.
Trust Your Paint Stripping to the Professionals at Finishing Systems
Many think that stripping the paint themselves will save time and money, but this isn’t always the case. In particular, if metals are what you need to strip an old layer of paint from, there are other methods that professionals use to effectively and efficiently complete the process. At Finishing Systems, our team employs our various types of abrasive blasting equipment to achieve superior paint stripping services. Whether you decide to forge ahead with stripping yourself, or if you outsource the work we have the abrasives to do the job.
Our professionally built abrasive blast equipment is also sold or employed in our job shop to efficiently and professionally clean your parts.
Be sure to peruse our website to see the other related services that Finishing Systems offers.
To learn more about our fast and efficient paint stripping services, please contact us today!