After an hour or two stripping paint with the Speedheater/Silent Paint Remover/SPR, I still have a lot to learn. The tool comes with a many pages of instructions and documentation, but it is not enough to answer all my questions.
I started with the simplest, least conspicuous piece of painted wood I could find in the south upstairs bedroom: the inside of the closet door. After pulling the hinge pins and setting the door on sawhorses, I gathered my tools and safety gear and got to work.
In addition to the Speedheater, I used a flat carbide pull scraper, a profile pull scraper, a spraybottle with water to reduce paint dust, gloves, glasses, and a cartridge-type respirator.
The Speedheater directions say to heat the surface for 20-30 seconds before scraping and to heat only as long as necessary for the paint to soften. However, I found that the only way I could get most of the paint to come off was to leave the Speedheater on for at least 30 seconds, until the paint surface had completely blistered. By this point some of the paint was smoking and stinking terribly. (I couldn’t smell anything with my respirator on, but Ms. Bungalow popped her head into the room to tell me I was stinking up the house.) Once the paint had blistered, I sprayed it with water and scraped the paint off. The top layer came up pretty consistently, but a base coat of paint or primer has stayed on tenaciously.
The instructions for the Speedheater warn against heating the paint to the point of smoking and stinking, but I found this was the only way I was getting good results with my scraper. The instructions also mention that an 80/20 mixture of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits could be applied before heating and scraping to “reconstitute” very old paint that had completely dried out. I may have to try that approach to see if it makes a difference. It does not appear that this door was ever stained and varnished and that could be a factor in the stripping, too.
So far, I’m not getting the easy, effective results I was lead to expect from the Speedheater, but I assume this is my fault, not the tool’s. If you own a Speedheater, or if you have used one, what step am I missing? Is there a technique you have used to get the best results from your Speedheater? Are smoking and stinking unavoidable in heat-based paint removal– and if so, how do you set up the workspace to manage these issues?