Cleaning wood before priming?
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Joined: 15 Jan 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Fairfield, CT

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:45 am    Post subject: Cleaning wood before priming? Reply with quote

I did my best to search the forum and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so apologize if this has been asked but....

I am in the process of restoring 2 sets of double hung windows. These are my attic windows and were seriously neglected. To the point that half the paint was gone on the inside and what was there was probably 50+ years old. Outside was actually in better shape as they had been painted over the years so the wood underneath was in better shape. At this point I have removed all of the paint, glazing, and glass. The wood that sat exposed is terribly dirty with dust and old dried mildew i am guessing.

How do you recommend cleaning the wood before I sand, epoxy, and prime? Just a wire brush and compressed air was my thought, but I suppose I could use TSP, Oxygen bleach or something else (wet rag?) if it is recommended and let them dry. I have put in temp windows so time is on my side for letting things dry, etc.
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Joined: 03 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will chime in and others can add/revise if they wish:

Cleaning is important for long-term performance of the paint system. I personally have used a detergent called Dirtex, which comes either pre-mixed in a spray bottle or in powdered form. Some amount of bleach in the cleaning solution to kill fungal growth is also a good idea (perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 of the solution by volume).

I scrub with a soft-bristled plastic brush. I scrub enough to loosen dirt, but go easy enough not to raise the grain of the wet wood.

Rinse clean when done. Thoroughly rinsed away, the above solution should not harm subsequent paint film. I have been surprised by how much dirt washes away, even on relatively clean looking sash. Dry thoroughly before next steps.

Of course you must work lead safe. If there is likely to be lead containing dust and debris rinsed away, plan for collection and proper disposal.

I was interested to read that Historic New England (formerly SPNEA) prohibits they use of TSP on their buildings. Not sure if this policy has something to do with paint performance or if they are trying to be responsible in terms of releasing phosphates into the environment.

Hope this helps.

Tim Brosnihan
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See the Wet Abrasive Scrub discussion and video:
This method can be adapted to window sash work.

I now frequently use the same 3M Heavy Duty Stripping Tool for a "dry scrub" on window sashes.


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