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Question DetailsAsked on 6/19/2013

Howcan I get paint off of a painted deck?

My front porch is made of decking wood and has been painted more than once. It is peeling badly and I would like to get the paint off so it can be stained.

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2 Answers

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There are a number of commercial deck paint strippers out there - from strong chemical types to "green" products. You can use these to soften and debond or "lift" the paint. Many products claim you can just soak it and just wash it away with a hose, which sometimes works, but usually a lot of scraping of the softened paint is required. Most do work eventually, but I have found the "Green" ones typically take many coats and don't normally lift it very well. The ones that really break the bod with the wood tend to have both organic solvents and caustic in them. The stripper will allow you to scrape the softened paint off, then finish up (after dry) with spot sanding for what did not come off. May take several applications for a multi-layer paint coated deck.

If it is really peeling badly so it is not really bonded to the wood, careful pressure washing with a diffuse nozzle (NOT a tight jet) helped along with a moderately sharp paint scraper or ice scraper can take the bulk of it off, leaving just a little to scrape by hand or by abrrasive pad. The biggest problem with pressure washing is that it will not take of aqdhered paint without gouging the wood, and you have to work in a strict parallel-with-the-grain motion or you will leave streaks and cross-cut grain that will show through finishes. It also raises the grain a lot, especially if you are working "against" the grain, so you usually have to belt sand it after pressure washing to smooth the surface.

The coarse pad-type abrasive paint removers can work good too - I had a neighbor do an entire deck about 400 square feet in one weekend, but doing more than post-stripping finish removal is really hard onthe old bod. You need a heavy-duty 7" or bigger disc sander for it to survive a whole deck, though. Belt sanders do NOT work - clog up almost instantly as they melt the paint onto the belt.

Sandblasting works but is messy, is not very efficient because the paint is soft and absorbs the energy too easy, and it tends to gouge the wood. You would use a LOT of grit to do a whole deck.

Some people have had success with heat guns - depends a lot on the type of paint (latex and acrylic peel easiest), and of course you need good ventilation because of the fumes and heat - a good 20" portable fan works nice if you keep it about 3' behind you and off to the side a bit so it is blowing past your shoulder, blowing away from you to your front.

Be sure to use plastic sheeting (painters drop sheeting) to protect the house surface both below the deck (and anything under it that you can't move), and for about 4 feet above deck line on the side of the house - evenn if using a dry removal method, the paint chips stick to siding like nothing else.. Don't forget to fully protect electrical, telephone, cable TV and gas cables, meters and boxes if chemically stripping as paint stripper will also damage electrical cable and connections ! If sandblasting or using a power removal tool be sure to put positive protection on any cables or such that come up along the edge of the deck on the face of the house.

You will probably want to put a large tarp under the deck to catch the sludge and stripped paint too, especially if you have a nice gravel or concrete walk under there, and plan on water disposal if pressure washing or stripping - perhaps a sand and gravel dike or some cheesecloth at the tarp outlet to catch the paint chips as the water runs off the end.

Be sure to keep pets away from it - if doing in a yard pets have free access to, you may have to put up a temporary fence around the deck with landscape fabric or deer fence (though that won't stop a cat unless full height coverage and weighted at the bottom), because they sometimes like to eat the paint peelings, which isn't any good for them. For some reason paint, especially latex, tastes good to some animals.

Since it has been painted, it likely has some rot which will require replacement of one or more boards with new, and the paint would likely have penetrated differently on different boards, so the stain is likely to "Take" unevenly. Therefore, you want a pentrating stain for a deck, but get one with some "body", not transparent, otherwise it will look splotchy and like some is wet and some dry all the time.

Unfortunately, it is possible part of the peeling problem may be because the undersides of the deck boards were painted too - this holds in any water that enters from the top, and can totally rot out a deck so all you have is largely cellulose mush held together by multiple coats of paint ! I have seen decks with fully painted deck boards that actually did not look too bad (under many coats of paint) that you fell right through when you walked on them.

Bottom line - muy personal preference would be chemical stripper washed off with a pressure washer, then 40 grit 4x24" belt sander to remove remnants and smooth the surface.

Look at Browse Projects By Category at lower left, expand Home out to show subcategories, and choose Decks and Porches to read suggestions on alternative deck finishes.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

For this to work you must countersink the nails or screws. Rent a drum sander, I did at Home Depot. They feature various grit circles of sandpaper. Start Course 40 or 60 and switch to 100 in final pass. Then try hand sanding with electric sander which you will also need to do around the edges. Turns out nice but beware you hit a nail or screw with the drum sander turning 5000+rpm and the $7 sheet is toast.

Jim Casper

ps see ask the builder or consumers report (get at your library) for sealer reccemendations.

Answered 6 years ago by jccasper




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