Torture Test: Paint Strippers
Safer products get the job done, but unfortunately, the fastest are the most toxic.
Synopsis: Scraping and sanding are frequently the tasks you need to do to remove old paint to restore a paintable surface. Sometimes, however, you need to take the surface back to bare wood. In those cases, you will most likely reach for a paint stripper. With the number of choices on the market, how can you be sure which is the best one for your needs? In this article, carpenter Andy Beasley tests 10 commonly available paint strippers to determine which ones did the job most efficiently and effectively. He also rated products’ effectiveness on surface orientation (some products dripped, ran, or sagged on vertical surfaces). Beasley tested products from two categories of strippers: the highly toxic methylene-chloride variety and then a number of less toxic though still effective, if slow, products. The products’ paint-removal speed ranged from 1 hour 35 minutes (one application) to 143 hours (10 applications). The author’s top choice was the fastest product he tested, Klean-Strip KS-3 Premium Stripper.
Most of us are all too familiar with the scraping, sanding, and caulking that are part of the prep work for repainting. But when your next renovation calls for stripping the kitchen cabinets back to bare wood or uncovering some architectural details that have been hidden beneath too many touch-ups, you can be excused for being a little unsure about your next step. You know you need some kind of chemical stripper, but choosing the right product isn’t easy. There are highly toxic liquids and supposedly safer gels, stuff that won’t drip and other stuff that will, and these products all claim to get to bare wood in the shortest time possible. To help you decide which type of product is right for you, I’ve taken a close look at 10 commonly available paint strippers that span the spectrum of toxicity…