Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

August, 2004

Repainting Outdoor Aluminum Patio Table

Q. I have a 19th century home that I purchased recently and want to re paint the exterior. The problem is that the prior owner attempted to remove the old chipped paint and what he couldn't remove he painted over. How can I get to the unfinished wood? We have tried pressure washing and that isn't working? Please give me a solution! Thank you

I would say that you have a very large and very laborious job ahead of you. You can approach this job in a few of different ways.

I am assuming that you are going to re-paint the wood once you have removed the old paint from the surface.

You can strip the paint with a chemical paint stripper, however this may have some adverse environmental effects. You must take all precautions to ensure that NO chemicals are absorbed into the ground and cause soil contamination.

A second approach can be burning the paint off the surface with a torch. This is NOT a good practice on a wood home. I have heard of people accidentally burning down their homes.

Another approach is to blast the paint from the surface using a sand blasting technique. Instead of using sand as the blasting material, it is substituted with a softer abrasive such as walnut shells. The walnut shells (or equivalent) are used so the blasting effect does not dig into or erode the wood surface.

Lastly, you can scrape the surface free from any loose or pealing paint, then sand down the sharp edges with a power sander to smooth or feather out the edges so when you do apply a coat of paint over the existing surface the sharp edges won't show through.

Contact a reputable painting contractor in your area, ask him to give you an estimate, and any recommendations that he may have in order to achieve the desired effect.

Please be aware that paints, coatings, solvents and paint removers are chemicals and therefore you should always pay attention to proper handling procedures and be prepared to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, etc. For further information on the health and safety requirements for the coatings, solvents and other chemical products that you intend to use, we strongly advised you to contact your local coatings and chemicals supplier. If possible, go the extra step and look for this information on the website of the product vendor.

Best wishes,

Jim Burke

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