Steam Paint Removal (with video)
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See our live internet broadcasts of the steam paint removal on our barn project. Live on most fair weather days, June through July, 2009.

http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/video/rftf.htm

Broadcasting live, today, the Fourth of July !

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AlH



Joined: 07 Jul 2009
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Location: South Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:43 am    Post subject: Steam removal of paint from brick Reply with quote

It seems like a number of years have gone by since someone raised this question about whether or not steam removes paint from brick. The house I am working on has brick basement walls covered with paint on the interior. On the lower 2 feet, moisture in the masonry seems to be causing the paint to bubble up so that it can be removed with a plastic scraper. The upper paint is staying firm, but I was wondering if steam might do the trick? The brick is very porous and fairly soft, so I'd like to avoid chemical or mechanical methods.
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Al Hester
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al:

I still have not tried steam on painted brick, although I have exactly the condition you describe here in my own cellar.

I think steam would be worth a try since it's moisture that is already kicking the paint off the masonry surface. If it does not loosen up the paint right away you might try steaming with no scraping, letting it set for a few days then see if the paint has loosened up.

If steaming indoors set up ventilation to immediately move the moisture out of the building, and plan the work when the weather outdoors is not freezing.

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See this offer of a nearly new steamer and steam box for sale:

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5326

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:13 pm    Post subject: Jiffy 4000 steamer on ebay, 12/14/09 Reply with quote

Jiffy 4000 steamer on ebay, 12/14/09

http://tinyurl.com/y865olh

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the videos of Steam Paint Removal in one place:




and here is the Steam Paint Removal report:
http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/reports.htm#Steam

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Last edited by johnleeke on Wed May 28, 2014 12:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike-in-Maine



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

PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Ive done it.. after restoring many windows ive jumped in and tried the steam method. Im skilled with a steamer and have used them to remove many things... But after getting 3/4 of the way through the first of 10 c. 1840 6x6xs sashes I ve concluded one thing:

If time is money you could go broke using this technique.

Other observations: The moisture introduced into the wood, especially OLD wood with 150 yr old paint is just plain BAD for these antiquarian pieces.

If youre stripping newer paint especially latex, then this technique is foolproof and the hands-down winner. Otherwise I find it hard to sit in one place working away for hours when I could be getting other things done.

I am not a proponent of filling the environment with chemicals and such, and respect the environment and the enthusiam of some with this technique, but it has been my experience that the steam technique is only appropriate for certain types of sash. Add to this, on my first 6x6 sash i lost 4 out of the 6 pieces of glass, with one having a crack to begin with. That level of loss is unacceptable and far greater than my conventional techniques.

John, I'm sorry I cannot write a more enthusiastic and positive report, but know that I went into this with every expectation that it was going to work great. I ended up with more mess, over a longer time period with more LABOR involved and more damage to the wood than I have ever had on a single sash in the past 4 years of window restoration.

I must reiterate, I'm anything but a ham-handed neanderthal when it comes to these things. Those who know me marvel at my capabilities with any tool, my ability to adapt and create, and my attention to detail and quality... but this technique is just not all it is being made out to be.

Advantages of steam paint removal:
no costs for supplies
no hazardous chems and fumes
no ultra-fine lead hazard dust (compared to sanding, which i do NOT recommend in any way without HEPA containment and extreme caution!))

Disadvantages:
takes MUCH longer, and this time is hands-on time, vs otherwise usesful time that can be spent being productive in other ways or on other sashes. Cumulative time savings is non-existant, and is exponentially negative.

messy, and much more hazardous compared to chemical stripping with regards to loose paint, chips, flakes (after dry) and paint must be contained well during removal, more so than chemical which is more controlled when done responsibly

damaging to wood. Quite literally the steam in many cases will permeate the wood before very old paint is adequately softened. In these cases you end up with soft damp wood and hard paint. And yes, my steamer is very much up to the task as far as steam output is concerned.

I cannot use this technique on the remaining sashes in my current job.

I support and respect each and every one of you who DO use this technique successfully, but at this point im a tested skeptic for c.1840 sashes
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
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Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi there mike....
thanks for sharing your experience with steam paint removal...as i have dial up (yes, one of the last 10 people in the world!) i have not viewed the video...

my 5 year experience with using a steam cabinet to remove glass and putty from sash has reduced glass breakage, made removing hardened glazing putty a snap and keeps the lead in a less hazardous form...

i do not remove paint using the steam method...i remove the glass and putty and put the sash aside for a day or more and remove the paint with a heat gun...

the sash are set separated by dividers so air flow around each is attainable...i would not set them out in the sun for a fast dry rather they set up in the working temperature of the shop...

i have found no adverse affects from using steam...i can fit 4 sash in one cabinet and continue working while the steam does its thing--no wasted time...

gotta run.....
......jade


Last edited by jade on Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike-in-Maine



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
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Location: Fort Kent, ME

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jade, thanks for the feedback.

I completely agree that the steam works great to soften old glazing putty. But I do not have a steam box and even with my custom adapted steam heads its a challenge to steam the inner pane glazing putty areas without cracking glass.

Im not completely lost on using steam to remove glazing... it does work in that regard, but the adverse effects being the risk of broken glass... well... ugh... i cringe.... perhaps i'll give it a final try, strictly for the putty... (less work than all the paint)

for paint removal of these finely crafted multi-lite sashes though, I still feel it is a big time-consuming headache and extremely destructive.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike:

Thanks for taking the time to report your experience, even if negative, your report is a valuable addition to the discussion.

The method doesn't work in every case because there is such a wide variation of old paints, putties and window conditions.

Like Jade says, a combination of methods can produce effective results.

Lewiston is only an hour away. If you want, I could come up and take a look at your operation, if you still have it set up. I could do this in the next few days. I've been wanting to see you and your work anyway. I'll give you a call.

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Mike-in-Maine



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
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Location: Fort Kent, ME

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John, and all,

an update, night (2) of deglazing with steam... I thought about what DID work and what didnt previously and made a decision to give it a try again... this time with a different approach. First I made a small adjustment to my steam head, basically securing a few "blocks" and fired up the steamer..

While it was heating up (takes about 5-10 minutes with cold water) I began popping the putty off where it was already loose. This rarely if ever results in any loss of glass, I pop off everything that will pop off with little effort... i'd say by the time the steam was flowing I had 50% of the old putty off.. most places being clean to the oiled wood.

I chose to focus not on paint so much as the putty with the steam... however, i did remove most of the paint off the exterior side, and this paint is usually more weathered with a weak bond. I did NOT try to get "all" the paint off the exterior, but most. As expected, the steam made the putty easy to remove where it was previously fused to the wood and glass like concrete. My adjustment to the steam head adaptor i shaped for the frame face and putty fillet worked a bit better than previously, and out of the six panes of old glass, I cracked one by accident (woops, too much chisel action near the glass) and one cracked due to steam (I can only assume, as i didnt hear it, just saw it later)

The exterior paint removal was not as destructive as previously due primarily to my EXTRA careful scraper technique and less time with the steam... There is a very fine window of timing with these pieces... a tad too much and the wood strings and tears, a tad too little and the paint doesnt lift cleanly... It took about 2 hrs to remove all 6 panes from tonights sash, and the exterior paint. This is still quite a long time, but with so many lites, its bound to take time. (Conversely, typical 2-over-1 sashes would have taken VERY little time...)

What I did NOT do. The Interior paint. Ive found interior paint on old windows, with the exception of the areas right at the glass, to be rather bullett proof. This is what heat guns and chems are best at removing.

My conclusion: I will use steam in combination with the other practical methods to prep these sashes. Steam is best suited for putty removal, and can be the best solution for paint removal on CERTAIN items. fine, intricate and delicately detailed sash components with excessive amounts of vintage paint, are not served well using the steam method, but some areas are. With my current lot of c.1840 sashes I've got to use all the tools available to me prudently and not rely on any one technique.

John, Thanks for the call. I would have called back, but have (you guessed it) been busy. My shop (in addition to being very small) is in flux and is being re-arranged and moved around. Its currently a complete cluster and a mess... but perhaps next weekend (after this weekend) I'll have things more or less dialed in again. This is the spring "tooling up and cleaning up" time right now and I got ALOT of work to do in a very short period of time in addition to getting the shop back together!

Keep in touch.
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Mike-in-Maine



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Location: Fort Kent, ME

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update: night (3) 2 6x6 sashes deglazed in 3 hours. glass break rate about 40%. Still not good enough.

However, the steam does make the putty easy to remove.

As far as paint, my technique is dialed in and still on some sashes the condition of wood with the stregnth of the old paint makes it inpractical.

On other areas where conditions are different, the paint did indeed come right off cleanly... however, that was the exception not the rule.

Steam is an option for some situations.
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Steam is an option for some situations.


Every deglazing method has situations where it will work and others where it will not. In my shop I use two or three routinely and another two or three occasionally. (but the "Putty Chaser" definitely never works.)

I'd like to know more about what is going on with that glass breakage.

Is it breaking during putty removal, or when lifting it out of the glazing rabbet?

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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
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Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi mike....
i started out using the hand held steam hose aimed directly at the glazing putty...glass breakage was less than when using a heat gun but still more than i would like...breaking a 7x9 piece of glass is one thing, breaking a 14x28 or larger is another...

when using the steam box/cabinet, the steam is more evenly distributed and our glass breakage is down to ZERO...sometimes we may break a piece once it is out of the box and on the bench but that's just the nature of working with glass...

are you fairly new to window restoration? always good to have someone to refer vacationlanders to....

...jade
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Mike-in-Maine



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
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Location: Fort Kent, ME

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jade wrote:
....
are you fairly new to window restoration? always good to have someone to refer vacationlanders to....
...jade


Hi Jade,

I've been restoring old windows for about 4 years now. Ive primarily done 2-over-1 sashes and big 2-over-2 exterior storms (I love those!), but this is my first job with all 6-over-6 sashes, and these are the oldest windows ive ever worked on. They are in pretty good shape, considering their age (surprisingly good shape, actually), but they are a bit more "delicate" in material than the later types.

I understand what you say about the steam "box" vs the hand held steam heads... I do believe thats the way to go. I also feel that with the later (c.1900) sash styles, the steam would probably be more productive than these older sashes.

I'm behind the eight ball on this job right now, but plan on catching up this weekend, among other things (like finishing a new 3'x8' work table, and re-arranging the shop for Summer production)
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