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consumer reports best paint strippers

Release time:2016-12-17

Real Estate Old-House Online» Old-House Tips, Restoration Stories, & More» Repairs & How To» Tested: Safer Paint Strippers Tested: Safer Paint Strippers They're better for the environment, but how are they at removing paint? We put the newest breed of strippers to the test. By Andy Olenick| Photos by Andy Olenickand Andrew Bydlon These paint strippers will get the job done, but it may take a little longer. At some point, every old-house owner will face the dilemma of how to best remove paint or varnish. Many products can do the job, but the best choice is one that’s both right for your project and safe to work with. Start by asking yourself a few questions: How many layers of paint are you trying to remove? Is the paint lead-based? Is it a vertical surface, or can you put the item on a set of saw horses? Can you move your work outside? The answers will help you find a product that has the chemical makeup, thickness, wait time, and cleanup process you’re looking for. Then there’s safety. When I first started stripping paint years ago, I used methylene chloride-based products. They’re fast-working and effective, but they’re also hazardous. Over the years, more environmentally friendly products have come on the market—many still use methane-derived compounds, but contain less harmful byproducts. Paint strippers without methylene chloride are much slower-acting—some work best if you leave them overnight, and may require two or more coats before the paint is completely stripped. The key to working with these newer strippers is patience: They may cost you some time, but they’re safer for you and the environment. Head to Head TestReady StripReady Strip got high marks for its thick formula and easy cleanup, but our testers were divided on its effectiveness. Our expert, Andy Olenick, praised it for removing multiple layers of lead paint (even in nooks and crannies) after an overnight wait, while DIYer Natasha Thomas wished it had been tougher on the varnish, latex, and spray paint on her antique chairs. “If left to work longer—for 8 hours or more—it works better,” Olenick noted.CitristripTesters praised CitriStrip’s orange-sherbet smell and relatively short wait time (“I’ve used harsher strippers in the past, and I was impressed that this pulled up most of the paint in 30 minutes,” said Thomas), and the thicker formula won points for containing drips. However, most found that extra applications were needed to remove multiple layers of paint, so it’s best for one-layer jobs.Soy GelThis soybean-based stripper removed the most paint with only one application, earning rave reviews from our testers. And because it’s not water-based, it can be used on wood that’s going to be refinished. (“It’s the only product I could use in historical restorations,” said old-house contractor Randall Marder.) It is the thinnest of the bunch, however, so if using it on a vertical surface, spread thinly and reapply as needed.Smart StripSmart Strip’s super-thick formula “has a viscosity that makes it good for vertical surfaces,” said longtime OHJ contributor Steve Jordan, echoing the findings of other testers. However, comparatively slower wait times (“It works best if you leave it overnight,” Olenick suggested) and the need for multiple applications (our panelists all needed at least two coats to get all the paint off) left some frustrated.Pro TipThis generation of strippers may be safer, but they still contain potentially harmful content. Before you start using a product, educate yourself on how it works and see if you may have any reactions to its ingredients. The State of California publishes a good reference guidethat categorizes products into groups ranging from “Preferred” to “Most Hazardous.” Always wear gloves, eye protection, and, if you’re working inside, an organic vapor respirator. How To Strip PaintStep 1: Application Apply the stripper using a disposable brush or an old paintbrush. Coat the surface with about 1/8″ of paint stripper. Brush the product lightly so you don’t thin the coat too much—if necessary, recoat a second time.Step 2: Removal Once the paint or varnish has started to lift and the prescribed time has elapsed, use a putty knife or hard nylon scraper to remove it. (You may have to repeat the first two steps multiple times; you also can cover your work with plastic or house wrap material to prevent evaporation.)Step 3: Cleanup If any paint remains, put a little additional stripper on a nylon scrubber or steel wool and work the surface. After the paint is removed, clean up the stripping material. Some strippers can be cleaned with water, while others recommend the use of mineral spirits or vinegar to neutralize the product (check the instructions). Watch the VideoSee how to strip paint from a chair using one of these products. Published in: Old-House JournalOctober 2013 TweetYou might also like:No related posts found { 14 comments } DebAugust 2, 2013 at 2:40 pmVery interesting article! It would be interesting to see how our paint stripper compares in your test. Star 10 Paint Stripper does not contain methylene chloride, caustics or acids. Visit our website, http://www.starten.com, and look at the videos. If you are interested please give us a call at 800-726-4319. We would be happy to send you a sample of our product so you can test it for yourself. Randall MarderAugust 2, 2013 at 7:54 pmWhen working on your historic homes woodwork or your antique furniture, I do not recommend, using water to rinse, clean or deactivate any remover. Water based products will discolor your patina (darken). Water damages wood. Water will not replenish woods (dried out) fibers. No one wants to see their historic woodwork or antique crack or split. Stephanie August 30, 2013 at 3:18 pmSelection of the proper stripper would be easier if you would give more information. For instance, I would like to remove the polyurethane from my slate floors. I bought a bottle of CitriStrip, and reading through the directions, realized there were no instructions for cleanup, so called the company. Mineral spirits are required to clean not only your tools, but as a final wash – not what I would like to use on an entire floor without very good ventilation! I decided to use SmartStrip instead, but had a hard time getting the residue off, so called Dumond for advice. They have several strippers, and each are chemically formulated to do a specific job – actually CitriStrip is good for paint, but CitriStrip Pro is better for polyurethane, which has hardeners in it. Your article gives more of the impression that these strippers are equivalents, which they really aren’t. My advice to your readers is to do some research, including visiting the web sites of makers of these products – don’t rely on the scant information in this article or choose simply by looking at what is available on the shelf in the paint store (my store had to order CitriStrip Pro from their warehouse). Ann Marie October 2, 2013 at 1:48 pmRandall Marder recommended using Soy Gel to strip wood that will be refinished. I intend to use it on an interior newel post. What do you recommend for cleaning the wood surface after the Soy Gel is removed and before the new finish is applied? Thanks. Randall MarderOctober 7, 2013 at 8:01 amHi Ann Marie, When deactivating and rinsing off Soy Gel, I use mineral spirits and #2 steel wool. Mineral spirits is flammable, do not use near an open flame. If you use any rags, paper, etc. for cleanup or drops, please remove all materials soaked with mineral spirits from the area and dispose safely to avoid combustion. Anthony October 24, 2013 at 11:32 pmI used Soy Gel when stripping window trim in my 1920s colonial – 4 large windows in my living room. I will never use this product again. Although it stripped the paint to bare wood after several applications, there were areas that I could not deactivate – and I am very meticulous and thorough. I found this out after I primed the trim – the oil-based primer remained tacky in areas. I then rubbed off the primer and again cleaned the wood (the recommendation from the manufacturer was to use water and dish soap(?)) – I tried both mineral spirits and denatured alcohol. Finally, most of the affected areas became deactivated after much heartache and frustration. This product is gooey, sticky and tenacious. I then tried Smart Strip when I stripped the trim of 4 large dining room windows. I had no issues whatsoever and it did not stain the wood. ….just sharing my experience… DebSeptember 30, 2014 at 12:02 pmI enjoyed reading all of your comments. Sounds like a lot of work. Our product does not need to be neutralized, washed with water, etc. It also doses not hard the patina of the wood. Please visit our website, http://www.starten.com, and make life easier for yourself. You’ll be happy you did. thanks! Melissa February 11, 2015 at 4:40 pmHi Randall, I would like to remove some textured paint from my kitchen tile but it is that plasticy 40s tile and not ceramic. What could I use that would get ride of the textured paint, but not melt my tile? I can see a small section where they didn’t paint, and I’m in love with it! Thanks, Melissa Cindy April 22, 2015 at 12:34 pmI am looking for a product to take one, maybe two at most, layers of paint from a basement floor. We are wanting an option that is the least toxic. We are going to be staining and sealing the floors afterwards. Any thoughts? Thank you! CATHERINE C. BROOKSApril 30, 2015 at 3:39 pmThere is another new technology folks should consider: low, infrared heat. It does not release toxic lead fumes like high heat guns; it doesn’t leave messy chemical paint waste but rather creates clumps of softened paint and leaves no chemical residue on the wood. The wood surface does not need to be neutralized or washed; it is ready for priming right away. Just assure the infrared heater you use is UL-listed and safe. Terrie August 26, 2015 at 12:41 pmI am trying to remove paint from my entire basement floor. I rented a sander and used 60 grit discs, it did nothing. There is old paint as well as in one room there is also epoxy. Any suggestions? CATHERINE C. BROOKSNovember 16, 2015 at 3:36 pmAnother safe method to consider is the Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover. It uses low heat to soften old paint and varnish without releasing lead or other toxic fumes. No messy chemicals to neutralize; easily containable paint scrapings. http:/www.eco-strip.com Lowell MountApril 25, 2016 at 11:13 pmOkay, that’s it! I am officially chalk painting some ugly old wood furniture in my house! Thanks! Lynn May 5, 2016 at 11:20 amI am trying to remove 2 coats of paint from my back porch 75 spindles & railings. It is outside so I don’t have to worry about the ventilation. If I use a stripper can I power wash it off after the allotted time? A lot of the paint is peeling away now. 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