Speedheater Round Two

by Josh on February 20, 2006 · 7 comments

in Projects

stripping setup in garage

After the smelly smoke of my first foray with the Silent Paint Remover nearly drove my family out of the house, I knew I needed to change my plans for stripping paint in the south bedroom upstairs. So I moved my operation down to the garage where effective workspace ventilation is as simple as opening the overhead door.

For my second round with the Speedheater I also refined my technique. Previously I had forgotten the part of the instructions that showed how to leave the heater on and pointing away from the work surface while scraping, so I kept turning the tool off after each little section I heated. This caused the Speedheater to blister the paint more slowly than I expected because the tool spent most of the working time trying to reach full operating temperature. This weekend I left the tool on and let the paint fully blister before scraping.

door strippedI worked on a door again this weekend. Like the door from a week ago, this one just had primer and a single coat of paint over unvarnished wood. The paint came up easily, but the primer seemed to shrug off the Silent Paint Remover. I don’t know the age of the primer or it’s composition, but the Speedheater manual recommended wiping old oil-based paint surfaces with a mixture of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. I’m going to try that and once it has dried, give it another round with the Speedheater to see if I have better luck getting down to the bare wood.

This second round with the Silent Paint Remover went much better than before, belligerent primer notwithstanding. It took me a couple hours of easy-going work to strip one face and half of the sides of the door. I have put to rest my nervous doubts about purchasing the Speedheater and I’m sure that with some more practice I’ll be working even more quickly and effectively. Now the biggest holdup to more paint removal is the uncomfortable chill of the sub-zero weather ventilating my workspace.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Blair February 20, 2006 at 1:17 am

I don’t know if you want to remove the paint by yourself. But we found a place that we can take the doors to and dip them for about the same cost as the materials and some labor. We get them back in a few days and every nick and cranny are clean of any paint and that is so wonderful because there was some strong stuff on some of them that took us a month to remove.


Derek February 20, 2006 at 12:53 pm

You may have the same primer that we have. Ours comes off with a lot of denatured alcohol and 3M scrubbing pads. The heat gun doesn’t work on it, the chemical stripper gets most of it off, then I scrub it with denatured alcohol. That’s why I still haven’t finished stripping the wood in the hallway.


Josh February 20, 2006 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the tip, Blair. I hesitated going straight to dipping because I hoped to preserve the original finish, if possible. Now that I know there isn’t rich beautiful stain hiding under the cracking white paint of these doors, perhaps I will look into dipping.


Dave February 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm

If you want a smokeless safe alternative to dry heat, check out steam stripping.


Cheryl Palermo July 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

I also ran into the original primer that was impervious to sanding, heat guns and chemical strippers in my 150+ year old house. Even after getting all the layers of paint off the primer left a white residue ingrained in the wood. The only things I found that would get through it were oven cleaner or undiluted ammonia along with a stiff bristled brush. Lots of work but the end result is worth it.


Josh July 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Wow! Oven cleaner and undiluted ammonia are pretty noxious, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing your experience, but I’m going to think of these as “last resort” options.


Catherine November 30, 2011 at 11:26 am

I am confused. You use the name Silent Paint Remover and Speedheater interchangeably. Do you have a Silent Paint Remover (SPR)or a Speedheater? After 2006, SPR knocked off the Speedheater they had been importing (but renaming it SPR) in total appearance. Their copy can only be distinguished by looking at the metal end of the unit to see if it said “HEATER” OR “SPEEDHEATER.” Spee

By the way, Dave, steam stripping for the homeowner is very time consuming. The whole paint removal process takes much longer (several minutes vs 20-60 seconds) to separate the paint from the now wet wood. Wet wood is soft. When you scrape it you take off more of the wood than with dry heat. The biggest time eater is the
DAYS you have to wait for the wood to dry. If you rush it, the new paint will fail.


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