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Stripping paint from old clapboards

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by homebrewz, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I have some painting to do on an old house. The paint has chipped away from overall about 25% of the surface, so parts of the siding have grayed a bit from exposure. I plan to scrape all loose material then go over exposed wood with a sander to get rid of the weather damaged top layer. What is a good way to get the chips and most of the old paint off?

    I have read about tools that heat up sections of the clapboard and loosen the paint that way, but they are very expensive. I also have a friend who has used a propane torch, but it seemed like an accident waiting to happen. I was thinking something along the lines of a wire wheel on a right angle grinder... is that reasonable?

    thanks!

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  2. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    That could work. I'd avoid heat If you can. I use a heat gun on doors and trim, but doing siding that way would take forever and risks smoldering where you can't see it only to ignite later. You could also try pressure washing it, but that can be pretty abrasive if your wood is soft.
  3. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    I had the same chore 27 years ago on an old colonial which had years of neglect - our first house. I used a small hand scraper, and at the beginning was trying to get everything off. Didn't take too long to figure out it would have taken years to get that completely done by hand. So I took some advice I read in a home repair book (no Web back then!), and just scraped off everything that was loose. And I also didn't try to sand any existing exposed patches - just scraped and washed everything (but it still took a while on that big house). I wasn't too sure how it was going to work out, with patches of raised paint interspersed with the cleaned-off wood. It turned out that after stepping back and looking at the entire finished job, everything looked great, and it was still in fine shape when we sold the place 4 years later. I think the gray wood won't have a problem taking and holding paint. You might want to try it on one very small section with your paint/primer of choice, and see if you can live with it. Just my non-professional opinion. Good luck with it, regardless of how you go.
  4. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    search "needle scaler" on here for some suggestions I offered in another thread
  5. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    For almost 40 years, I've been periodically scraping cedar clapboards - some of which date back to circa 1810 - on my own house. There really are no shortcuts. A scraper with a carbide steel blade helps because it retains its edge a lot longer. (On the other hand, carbon steel blades are a lot easier to resharpen with a file). Feathering the edges of bare patches with a sander may be necessary in a few places, but isn't an absolute must. Sanding all bare weathered areas is not necessary either.

    Using anything that heats up poses a very significant risk. The smallest of smoldering embers can easily become a major fire if one falls into the wall cavity and comes in contact with old, dry wood, insulation, debris etc.
  6. jeffoc

    jeffoc Member

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    I've been doing the same thing lately. Mostly with a hand scraper, but there is a tool called a paint eater. I bought a commercial version of it and it works great. Then someone told me about basically the same tool at walmart for 50 bucks.
    It is kind of like the wire wheel theory but with a solid disc.
  7. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I searched around here about a month ago, then didn't check into the board for a while so I missed the previous paint stripping thread. The needle scaler looks interesting, but maybe better for hard, non-wood surfaces? I am definitely not going to use a torch. The same goes for pressure washing as I think for this application it will do more harm than good. The paint eater looks promising. I did a small section 2 years ago with a wire brush attachment on a power drill. It was slow and it was hard to keep the drill steady. I need a new right angle grinder anyway, so maybe I can a paint eater type attachment for it and get two tools in one.

    Some of you mentioned that the old gray wood should still take paint. I have read that exposed, grayed wood should be sanded down a little as the exposed layer looses the ability to absorb paint. I definitely didn't sand much on the section I did 2 years ago and it still looks good. Perhaps roughing up the surface with the wire wheel was enough.

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