Homeowners have long been searching for that one, perfect tool that will help remove exterior paint. Unfortunately, no single tool exists that will do it all. To sufficiently remove exterior paint in preparation for a new coat, you need to rely on an array of tools. These tools range from the simple and cheap manual paint scraper on up through the moderately-priced heat gun and up to the higher priced oscillating paint scraper. Bringing together all of these tools and using any or all, as needed, will turn this tedious task into one that runs smoother, with cleaner, more professional results.
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An oscillating tool, also called a multi-tool, is a corded or cordless device that moves its head in tight, rapid circles. The head can be outfitted with a number of implements. In the case of paint stripping, the blade implement works best, since it is thin enough to get under the paint layer that you intend to remove. While the oscillating paint scraper is thorough and fast, you do run the distinct risk of gouging your siding when using this type of blade to remove paint. Oscillating scrapers are great in areas where there will be no close examination of the surface. Use this tool when you have a layer of paint that is already coming up at the edge. In order to create an open edge, briefly run a heat gun over the paint, then lift up with the putty knife or painter's tool.
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Exterior latex house paint is incredibly sturdy and durable against rain, snow, UV rays, and even the expected expansions and contractions of a home's outer envelope. But it will eventually break down when the temperatures are high enough. This is the theory behind heat guns: subject the exterior paint to temperatures that will cause the paint to wilt away, yet stay short of damaging the house. A heat gun will not miraculously cause all of the paint to fall away by itself. Instead, consider a heat gun to be a supplement to manual scraping. Much safer than the traditional butane torch, a heat gun has no open flame. Imagine a high-quality manual hair dryer, then multiply the heat several times more. It is possible to start a fire with a heat gun, but far less chance than if you used a butane torch.
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Using a tool that is too sharp to scrap paint works against you. Instead of lifting away paint, it begins to gouge into the work surface. Even though a putty knife was not intended for removing paint, it does a remarkably good job at doing so. One reason is because of that dull edge, which is less likely to gouge your siding. If you find that the putty knife is too dull, simply run it over a whetstone or across a grinding wheel in order to sharpen it. Another reason why the putty knife works well for removing paint is because it bends, allowing you to scrape away the paint at a lower angle.
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An 8-in-1 tool is a standard tool carried by many professional painters. This tool is moderately good when it comes to opening paint cans, cleaning paint rollers, and pulling nails. But what this tool does very well is scraping paint and cleaning out cracks. Like the putty knife, this is one tool that should be occasionally ground down to a sharper edge. The edge is far sharper than the putty knife to begin with, so it should last a few hours before it needs sharpening. The sharp point is great at digging into cracks and removing old paint or caulk. In fact, this point is far better than the utility knife because it is less prone to cutting into the surface.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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A utility knife is a valuable tool that helps with paint removal, but it is not used for scraping paint off of flat surfaces. A utility knife does not have the shape and angle for getting under paint layers. Removing the blade and using it by itself as a scraper is not safe. Instead, use the utility knife for pulling up loose chips of paint or for scoring paint along the edges of items that need to be removed, such as boxes, cords, door trim, and window casing.
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A wire brush is strictly for the last stage of removing paint. Do not expect to scrape away stubborn paint with a wire brush and have it easily come off. In fact, be careful about brushing over existing paint layers with a wire brush, as you may embed the paint farther into the surface. A wire brush is great for sloughing away those remaining chips of paint after you have already used the other tools. Keep one on hand at all times and keep it dry, as wet wire brushes can develop rust.