Chemical Paint Removal Services

When an older house has been painted 10, 15, or even 20 times over the years, it is not uncommon for several of the coats of paint on the house to lose their bond simultaneously. Failing paint will continue to fail, regardless of how many coats of new paint are applied on top of it, so it is essential to the longevity of a paint job that all failing paint is removed from the house before it is repainted. When there are many coats of paint on the house, several of them failing, it can be impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to remove all of the failing paint through conventional means (scraping and sanding). In these cases, chemical paint removal may be the best option for a long-lasting paint job. With chemical paint removal, we are able to remove all the paint from all sections of the house where any paint is failing. This gives those areas a “fresh start”, essentially as if they were being painted for the first time.

The chemicals used for chemical paint removal are truly state-of-the-art products. They dissolve the paint on a molecular (rather than chemical) level. They are biodegradable, non-flammable, and contain no methylene chloride or caustic resins. Other than the brief moment when the gooey, dissolved paint is falling from the house to the plastic sheeting below for disposal, the paint being stripped is never airborn. Therefore the risks associated with removing lead-based paint from a house are far less with chemical paint removal than with sanding (where lead can become airborn in a dust form and drift away. Chemical paint removers can be applied with an airless sprayer, a brush, or a trowel. When it is warm or breezy, it can aid the efficacy of the paint remover to be covered in a thin film of painters plastic or periodically wetted down to avoid evaporation. Generally, the thicker the coat of paint remover and the longer it is allowed to remain applied to the surface of the failing coats of paint, the more paint it will dissolve. Although most brands of chemical paint remover claim to remove as many as 15 coats of paint with one application, this is rarely the case. More often than not, the remover will dissolve 4-8 coats of paint before coming in contact with a coat that it cannot dissolve. At this point it is necessary to scrape away the layers that dissolved and reapply the stripper, repeating this process until all paint has been removed from the surface.

As one might imagine, chemical paint removal represents a substantial upfront expense. One gallon of paint remover can cost as much as $80. It is applied very thickly, like cake frosting, so one gallon may only cover 50 square feet. Taking into account repeat applications, a large paint removal project can require 50 gallons of paint remover or more. The process of chemical paint removal is also time-consuming. Applying the remover, covering it plastic, waiting, removing the plastic, scraping the dissolved paint away, and repeating this process can require much more time than simply scraping and feather sanding a house. But when the benefits of chemical paint removal are weighed against the possible costs of leaving failing paint on a house, it can be the most prudent choice in the long term. Consider the following two scenarios:

1)       A 70-year-old craftsman has been painted over a dozen times since being built. Several of the older coats of paint have begun to fail, turning into chalk as they break down. Another coat closer to the surface is peeling because the house was not properly cleaned before being repainted. There is simply too much failing paint on the house to scrape and sand all the failing paint away. The owner pays $6,000 to have the house scraped, sanded, primed, and painted. Every 8 years the paint is peeling again as the failing paint pushes through the newer coats and the owner has to repaint again, paying 10%-15% more each time as the cost of labor and materials rises. Each time they repaint, there is another coat of paint on their house. And each time the paint begins to peel again, the house looks more unsightly than the time before. Over the next 40 years they spend between $50,000 and $55,000 maintaining the paint on their home.

2)       The same owner of the same 70-year old craftsman home opts for a total chemical paint removal and repaint and spends $18,000 on this service. Every 10 years they repaint the house, just to keep their home looking fresh. But because there is almost no peeling paint and very little prep work, when they repaint, only costs them $4,000. Their home maintains a look of perpetual beauty. And at the end of the same 40 years, the client who opted for the chemical paint removal job has saved between $10,000 and $15,000 on the maintenance of their homes’ paint.

If you’re considering having your older house painted and aren’t sure whether or not it’s a good candidate for chemical paint removal, give Step Up Painting a call. We’ll be happy to help you make the best, most-informed decision for the future of your home’s paint.

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