Painting Tips by a Professional

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Latex Paint Remover (plus the Painter’s Rag Trick)

Radiator with latex paint that needs to be removed
These days, removing latex paint is not the chore it used to be. There are safe paint removers and of course, the nasty ones will always be there.
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It’s easy. Today there is no need for the toxic latex paint remover that we once bought. In fact, the old ones are now illegal, thank you EPA. Oil paint? See this post.

1. Latex Paint Remover: dry paint

The go-to product,  Another honorable mention   We carry Goof Off always. Wet, wait, wipe.  

Home Remedy: Water, “the Univeral Solvent”. Keep the paint wet for about an hour then scrape with a plastic knife type thing. See how soft it is now? The spray solvents above will be MUCH faster with no scraping (just wiping).

Just fixing a little boo-boo?

With the solvents above, apply, wait, wipe. Ba-da-boom. Let us know in the comments if these don’t work. They have to work. Dear Lord, let them work!

Goof Off etc., have the reputation of not leaving a residue on the substrate, but if you have paint on a sensitive surface, do a test spot.

Refinishing wood? Use a big-time latex paint remover:

Heat Gun: From my cold, dead hand, Charlton. Make my day.   but don’t start a fire, this gun’s for hire, said Bruce never. 

Nothing working? Go Ballistic.

The Nuclear Option: Jump into the toxic stuff:   Protect yourself and your family: wear  , skin protection with   and of course a chemical respirator. We simplified the crazy world of respirators in a short post.

This would be your old-fashioned 100% sure-fire best paint remover for metal and so on. Stripping paint from metal and wood could be a combination of methods including a drill attachment or a variable speed grinder (shown) with the awesome 3M Sandblaster pads shown here.

Here is a video of how the pad is installed on the grinder.  There are many types of pads for 4½ – 5-inch grinders and most tools come with assorted washers for a good fit. Not all grinders have the same threads so you may need the adapter kit for this pad. Not expensive and handy since you will probably fall in love with a diamond cutting wheel later on.

Paint Strippers: Insert your own joke here.   VOC-free stripper. Reported to remove 30 coats of paint at once. Let me know if you don’t love it (in comments below). We once used this   which works, but it’s slower (and probably safer).

Lost faith in latex paint removers? You may not be trying to remove latex paint. Could it be oil?. Watch this video to learn the test.

Caution: You know that old paint stripper lying around? The EPA has made it illegal. Below we have safe options.

 Important note on LEAD PAINT below. 


2. Still Wet Paint? Easy to remove

It’s easy to create clean up with a nice sharp edge if you goof when painting indoors or outdoors.

  • Cover your scraper with your dry rag and wipe a bit (we don’t use cloth with strong dyes as it leaves a mark).
  • As you wipe your line, with each swipe of the rag/knife, slide the rag a bit to expose fresh cloth.
  • See how the line is totally clean and sharp? Just don’t let the wet paint on the rag make more mess! That never happened to me 🙂
  • This is demonstrated in the first video, below.

 The #1 tool and ‘right-hand’ of a painter is  removes/hammers nails, cleans rollers, and more. It’s the key to the painter’s rag trick in the video below.

We have other posts on removing paints (links below).

Floors? Some floors STAIN when in contact with latex paint. Try rubbing alcohol as a paint remover, and if not, try items in the list of latex paint removers above (also see the last video about flooring).


Make Sure You Are Not Exposed to Lead Paint 

outdoor walls with latex paint that needs removal
Wall that needs latex paint stripper

Old paint very possibly has some lead. We all know that it causes brain damage. Here is a test: take up to 5 samples,   and send them into the lab (EPA approved). The lab is paid for in the price of the test kit. There are no hidden fees.

As always, we wear a respirator when creating dust: cheap insurance. The WebMD website on using paint remover for paints containing lead.

How to Touch-Up Paint In 4 Steps (mostly deals with walls, but gives some tips)
How to Remove Spray Paint (From All Kinds of Surfaces)
How to Get Spray Paint Off Skin (with Home Remedy)
How to Remove Paint from Plastic (Without Damage)

Let us know in the comments if you need any help!

There is one case when I did not know how to remove latex paint: some ‘click’ flooring is stained by latex paint… I failed to get the stain out. I might have used acetone or other nasty solutions if I had had time.

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