Paint Be Gone

August 17th, 2010

Text by Marcel Venable

Photos by Marcel Venable

If you have ever attempted to remove paint by sanding it down with either the assistance of a power tool or by hand, you know the daunting task that it can be. In some cases, compete removal of the paint on a truck isn’t required, and stripping a panel, or an area is just enough to get the job done.

Although there are many ways to remove paint from metal, using abrasives are usually reserved for full restorations. One thing to consider when using an abrasive to remove paint is that fact some blast media can create heat if not properly used by an experienced operator. This can warp the sheet-metal creating more work for you later on down the line. Another over sight when using abrasives is that many rubberized undercoating can be difficult to remove and can contaminate the blast media creating a big mess.

When the job calls for paint removal, chemical paint remover is the choice for most home restorations or panel repairs. Chemical paint remover, or Paint Stripper as it has been referred to, is fast acting, effective, safe to use, and is easy to clean up. It’s the perfect choice to use when stripping multiple layers of paint. Most strippers are formulated in a liquid paste form allowing it to “cling” to vertical panels such as doors, fenders, bedsides etc.

The active ingredient in many solvent-based strippers is a chemical called methylene chloride. Methylene chloride is present in the paint remover to penetrate, blister, and finally lift the old paint. Other chemicals in paint removers work to accelerate the stripping process, to retard evaporation, and to act as thickening agents.

It goes without saying that any chemical or combination of chemicals with the potency to lift off old paint should be treated with respect in terms of safety. So, while solvent-based strippers work fast and are harmless to metal, they may pose health hazards to humans and should be used in strict accordance with product label instructions. Gloves, eye protection, and even a respirator should be worn while using this type of product.

The best place to use as a work area should be outside in an area with good ventilation, and in the shade. Sunlight or a heat source can prematurely dry the product out before it is able to be effective. Some physical symptoms that indicate overexposure are eye irritation, dizziness, light-headedness and/or headache. As soon as you experience any of these, take a break and get some fresh air. Do not resume the project until you have increased the ventilation throughout the work area. For your comfort and safety, take fresh-air breaks frequently and leave the work site whenever you are not actually applying or removing stripper.  Remember that some chemical removers can be flammable so please keep away from all sources of combustibles during use and in storage.

If you choose to use a chemical remover, there are a few things to consider before jumping right into the project. Although it works great on all metals, some chemical removers can create damage to parts made from fiberglass and urethane. The best way to know is to read the directions on the package or try it out on an inconspicuous area of the part before going hog wild. If fiberglass or urethane is the area that you need to strip, don’t worry, many companies such as Klean Strip, and SuperStrip, have developed products to fit your needs. Also remember that most removers won’t work well in cold weather so anything less than 65 degrees will take twice the time to work.

Follow along to see how easy and effective chemical paint remover can be to use.


Coast Airbrush

Dept. STTR

312 North Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805
714.635.5557 (http://www NULL.coastairbrush

Klean Strip (http://www NULL.kleanstrip

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