Steam Paint Removal (with video)
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Mike-in-Maine



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
Posts: 145
Location: Fort Kent, ME

PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UPDATE 4-10-2010

It's been a marathon weekend of "catch-up" with my current window project.

After posting my initial (somewhat negative) comments on using steam... i've been trying and trying again (you know, the old saying? i live by it)...

Here are my conclusions and technique notes after 4 days...

TIME:
Hand steaming. I'm deglazing these crazy 6-lite sashes (6-over-6 double hung) which are VERY time consuming..... (so many panes and so much putty!) i've managed to deglaze one sash in 1-hour, but consider that a fluke... it takes about 1 hours to complete one of these sashes on average (thats 15 minutes per lite to have it 100% cleaned out). This includes some exterior-side paint removal also, so true per-lite time is actually a bit less.. I think doing a 2-over-1 sash pair would be much much faster....

STEPS:
My miserable failure the first 2 nights were due to excessive moisture by the time i attempted to remove paint. I was trying to do too much at once. I believe ive figured out the problem and the solution. You have one shot to get the paint off and if you dont, you'll likely end up with too much water absorbed into the wood and any further attempt at paint removal will fail and result in scruffing and stringing and general discontent, expletives, fits of hopelessness, etc, etc. (you'd then have to let the sash dry out before trying again)

What I do now... first things first, I attack the glazing... that all i focus on. I dont touch the paint, leave it intact... if it bubbles up i leave it. I dont want water getting into the wood at this point. Ive managed to refine my head and technique and do not lose much glass now as a direct result of the steam. my latest losses were primarily glass that was already cracked, (corners broken already) and a couple of crackes due to haste and a tool)... no direct steam "TIC!" incidents since day 2.

After the glazing is all out and the beds are completely cleared, I begin steaming the exterior sash faces. Use enough time and move along methodically section by section and it works like John's video... I have yet to try the interior side though... Im leery... but we'll see.

CONCLUSIONS:
It works, but a few points... You definately have to develop a technique... you have to get a feel for the method and the material... the paint and wood will determine the technique... Ive got a batch of windows that demand my time and attention and this makes things much more time consuming that the simpler window designs ive done previously.

If I start to get the scruffies and the stringies, i STOP immediately, the wood must dry out, or another method be used.

I believe a steam box would greatly improve the time on these, but id be curious to know how long others are taking to deglaze a 6-lite sash using box or hand steaming....
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Jodi @ CCS Restoration



Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Sanford, Florida

PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We use a professional grade steam cabinet and leave the sashes in for about 1 hour. It takes less than 10 minutes to de-glaze a 6 or 8 lite sash. It takes another 10 minutes to get the vast majority of the paint off the flat surfaces. The interior profiles give us fits!
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 2951
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jodi, welcome to the Forum!

Quote:
The interior profiles give us fits!


See this discussion on removing paint from sash profiles, includes videos and an article you can download with detailed instructions on making special scrapers:

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=987

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woodturner



Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 73
Location: Western Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnleeke wrote:
All the videos of Steam Paint Removal in one place:


Hi, John,

What is the "portable steam generator" used in this video?

Is there something different about it that allows the paint to be removed more quickly? The older videos talk about one or two minutes to soften the paint, this one demonstrates 20 seconds. Wondering what is the difference.

Thanks.
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The steam generator is the Jiffy 4000. Steam is steam, and other steam generators may work well, such as a wallpaper steamer. The difference between thirty seconds and two minutes is that every old paint buildup is different, and responds differently to the stream. The initial temperature of the paint, the surrounding air temperature and even barometric pressure can play a more or less significant part in how long to takes the steam to soften the paint and how long the paint will stay soft during scraping. Also the altitude above sea level play a part since water boils and makes the steam at a lower temperature at higher altitudes. The difference between steam paint removal at sea level here in Portland is noticeably different in mile-high Denver.
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Uchmar



Joined: 20 May 2010
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried steam paint removal, and it failed. Reason is quite simple, steam generator I used is not fit for the job.

Many steam generators tend to produce steam at 3+ bar. These units are intended for cleaning, powering steam irons etc. Power of the unit is not relevant (my unit is 1800W), it is the way how the generator works.

Steam generator you use is for clothing maintenance, and it seems that these seam generators use low(er) pressure. Unfortunately I was not able to find something similar here and in surrounding markets.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's right. This method uses steam generators that operate at atmospheric pressure, that is the steam is produced just like a pot boiling water on the stove. Presurized steam blasting out of the nozzle does not work so well because the steam is mixed with air and cooled off by the time it touches the paint surface.
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husker007



Joined: 08 Feb 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Enfield, CT

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:24 pm    Post subject: ... as compared to a clapboard grinder? Reply with quote

I realize this thread is 5 years old, but I just joined this site.
I'm getting ready to strip an entire house, late 17's colonial with several add-ons. House is about 4k sqft.
Wasn't aware of the steam option and have purchased a clapboard grinder that attaches to vacuum.
Does anyone have any comparative data/info between these two options? This house must have at least 75yrs of paint on it. The alligatoring (is there such a word?) pieces are extremely thick and you can identify several different colors in the layers. I'm sure the grinder will do a good job except at the edges/corners. Maybe my best approach is a combination of the two options?

TIA,
Jim
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim:

You have to do your own comparison. Do a sample panel (a square yard, or 10' x 10') of the two different methods.

Even after having used 5 or 6 different paint removal methods hundreds of times, we still do sample panels or sections because the paint buildup on every building is different, and sometimes it's different from one side of the building to the next.

Once we compare two or three methods with sample panels, we do a test section 10' wide from foundation to eaves to get the costs in time and materials that can then be projected to the whole building.

By the way, what is a Husker doing in Connecticut? (I grew up in Lincoln--Go Big Red!)

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by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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husker007



Joined: 08 Feb 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Enfield, CT

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

how did a Husker end up in CT? Wow, that's a long story. Well, not that long. Actually spent 15 years in Tulsa, OK. Now that's a story! I'll tell you all about it May when I come up for your window class.
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim:

It's not too soon to sign up for the windows class in May, a few already have, but there are still openings.

Is there a weekend in May that is better for you? I'll be setting the specific dates the end of this month.

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by hammer and hand great works do stand
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husker007



Joined: 08 Feb 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Enfield, CT

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

20, 21, and 22 work best for me. My wife will be showing dogs at a show in Scarborough that weekend. But whatever works for the majority. It's only 2.5 hour drive, or so, for me.
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localsurfer



Joined: 12 Jul 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello everyone. I just joined this forum and am guessing I'll be checking this site quite frequently as my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a home built at the turn of the twentieth century.

One of the first projects we're looking into is removing paint from four marble fireplace mantles. I found this post on removing paint with steam quite intriguing. Has anyone ever tried to remove paint from marble using steam?

TIA. I can already tell this site is going to be very valuable to us.

cheers
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marchman321
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:41 pm    Post subject: Rot and the Steam box unit Reply with quote

Can it be assumed that the steam in the steam box somehow kills rot? I would like to use the unit to remove the paint from my windows however I have some weather checks and rot happening. Can I just fill in the holes and cracks with some PC Woody A&B epoxy when the wood dries? Do I need to use borates and a consolidant?
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The high temperature of the steam would surely damage the wood decay fungus organism at the surface of the wood, but the fungus organism can be alive and well deep within the volume of the wood where the temperature remains low.

Quote:
Can I just fill in the holes and cracks with some PC Woody A&B epoxy when the wood dries?


Yes

Quote:
Do I need to use borates and a consolidant?


Usually that is a good idea. Here is the Practical Restoration Report on Wood-Epoxy Repairs that covers the use of borates and consolidants:


http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/reports.htm#Wood-Epoxy%20Repairs

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