Stripping Paint to Reveal Original Detailing

Bob meets with a paint-stripping expert and observes an environmentally safe paint-removal system.

Clip Summary

Bob meets paint-stripping expert Bob Sharon and looks over his air filtration system. He also observes Dumond Chemicals' patented, environmentally safe Peel Away paint-removal system. Fifteen layers of paint are removed in one process, revealing the beautiful wood underneath.
OK, we're back.

Anyone who has ever restored a house knows how frustrating it is to have to remove layers and layers of paint that's been built up over the years on beautiful wood work. Where the crispness of the detail has gone out of the window.

Well, we're gonna get together with some experts today. Bob Sharon is here to explain to us a simple process that takes it all out in one kind of step.

Hi Bob, how are you doing?

Now before we get started, Bob, what's all this equipment here for?

Well, to start off, what I just turned on was a negative air filtration system. The purpose of this machine is to take the air from the inside environment there, where my guys are working, draw it through a giant filter, and exhaust clean air to the outside environment.

So it's filtered? So no noxious fumes are actually being thrown outdoors?

No, there will be no fumes, and there also won't be any particles or any different debris that comes from the inside environment.

OK, and what about the back vacuum cleaners.

This vacuum here is equiped with the exact same filter as is inside here. This will be used for drawing any of the dry debris or dust from inside there, filtering it and storing it inside that tank.

So if you're using a palm sander or such a tool the product of that process would go in through here?

It would go right in that hose. Exactly. Or if there's any debris that hits the ground and dries out.


That will be filtered. It will be sucked through the hose and filtered through that vacuum.

OK. And what's the orange one?

The orange is a wet vacuum, as you'll see when you walk inside, we'll be taking chemical off using a lot of water and the chemical itself has, you know.

Now, one question.
What do you do with the hazardous waste that's caught in there?

Well, we'll be taking these machines back into the containment there.
We'll take all the debris out of them, bag it to 6mm bags, wrap it twice, duct tape it up good. Bring it outside and put it in a hazardous waste material.

So it has to go to a hazard waste dump.


Very good.

It goes into a 55 gallon drum. And so we're in the dining room and we've divided the room in half with this polyethylene wall, and all the real work is going over there on the mantle piece and on the hutch, lets take a look in there.

Oh, wow, look at this up here, huh?
That's exactly what I am talking about when I say detail that had lost its crispness. All those little dentals up there, you can hardly tell they were there, because so much paint had gone in there.

So, what exactly is going on here? I see you have got all sorts of paper on the woodwork. Describe the process for us.

What David's doing for us right now is, he'll be applying a caustic paste on to the paint surfaces. Then, he'll be taking paper, covering it, taping it in tight with duct tape to keep any air from getting inside and drying out the paste while it's...

I see.

...removing the paint.

So the caustic soda is held within this this mixture which almost looks like a joint compound.

Exactly. Exactly.

And why do you have to cover it up with paper and duct tape?

To keep it from drying out.
When it dries it becomes very hard and very difficult to work with.

How long do you have to leave it on there?

Well, we did a time-weight average on this. This is where we did, a test batch. We found that twenty-four hours seems to be a perfect amount of time for the chemical to work, and not to effect the wood, at all.

Well that's what I was going to get at. Because, if you leave the chemical on way too long, you can really raise the grain.

Oh, it can be very bad for the wood. What it will do is it will take the moisture out of the wood, it will take the saps out of the wood, the oils, and really be, really be bad for it.

And the wood will start looking like felt.

Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

OK. So you literally have to slather it on pretty thick don't you?

Yeah, we like to go between a quarter and a half-inch. I mean, it can't hurt to be a little generous with it. What we've done Bob, is we've covered all the chemical with paper. Taped it in tight to keep the air from getting into it. And now, within 24 hours, we'll be ready to peel it away.

OK, so it is has to be on there for 24 hours.

Yeah, 24, around there.

Oh boy.

So that comes off first.

So this layer comes off first.

Yeah, exactly.

And what do you suppose all the brown represents? I don't think. There was any brown paint on there?

No, I think that was a varnish, a varnish that was on there at one point.

Oh, it draws the varnish and the stain out as well.

Exactly. It'll eat right through a urethane, right through a varnish.

That 's it.

So, how many layers of paint do you suppose are coming off there?

I'd say at least fifteen.


It's been there for a good number of years. It was all good quality paints also. After all this bulk chemical is removed, we're washing this down with a solution, a Kill Away neutralizing solution which will remove all the extra stuff that's there.

We'll wash it down into a drip pan where it can vacuumed up with that wet vacuum, and done with what I explained before.

But this is a very important part of the process, because you want to stop the caustic action on the wood, right?

If this isn't done correctly, then the painter goes to put his paint back on it would just peel right off.

Exactly, so this is really important and it's also important to contain all these chemicals, so that's why he's got this drip pan in the middle of it, and I guess you can start up with that vacuum cleaner, that wet vac, and collected all this, it starts to add up.


But, boy, I'll tell you, the payoff is when you look at this a day or two after it's been stripped, and we're just doing a little bit of sanding work to it, but look at this beautiful deep Dale's mantle, it.

Yeah. Billy's really done a very good job with this.

It's gorgeous. Now it's poplar wood and it probably was always painted. And the egg and the dart along the edge holds a little bit of residue but that's alright. It's really going to look beautiful once its totally been refinished

Hey Bob.
Thank you.

Thanks very much.

Nice job. We've got to break for some messages. Don't go away.

I wish you could smell the redwood.
We're out of time. Come home again next time when we're going to be down in the basement looking at a brand new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. Don't miss it.

'Til then I'm Bob Vila. It's good to have you home again.