Stripping wall paint is not as simple as it looks. Due to the fact that most kinds of paint contain a significant amount of lead, it’s important that you take some safety measures before you start removing the paint. First of all, let’s look at the harmful effects of lead. Lead poisoning is a serious problem, especially amongst children. Most homes that were built before 1978 were painted with lead-based paint. Afterward, lead was banned from being used in all kinds of residential paints. Lead generally spreads through dust particles. As the paint begins to peel, chalk, or flake, it can cause a severe lead poisoning.
However, if you are thinking about the renovation and your house was painted using lead-based paint, it doesn’t have to cause a major problem. The main thing that you need to keep in mind when removing lead-based paint from the walls is that effective dust control is very necessary. Here are some basic safety steps that you can perform before stripping off paint from the walls.
Cover the Floors
Using a single layer of polyethylene plastic and some duct tape for covering the floors is a great idea. As you strip the paint off the walls, the flakes and particles are going to fall on the floor and disintegrate into dust. However, if you have covered the floor carefully, you will be able to save a great deal of time during the subsequent clean-up. Once you spread the plastic cover over the floor, it’s important that you use duct tape to tie down the plastic along the edges. Otherwise, the dust particles might seep under. If you are working on a section of the wall that’s located close to a door, it’s recommended that you seal the door off first using duct tape as well.
You might have heard specialists talking about “working wet.” Wet hand scraping or wire brushing is a great way to remove lead-based paint with the help of an abrasive compound. You can also purchase HEPA filters and use them with a power sanding machine. Dry hand sanding is strictly not advised and should be avoided at all costs.
Contact a Professional
If you are unsure of how to contain lead-based paint in the house, it may not be a wise move to try cleaning up everything on your own. Instead, you should let a professional handle the job for you. Of course, this doesn’t have to be the last resort. Most specialists can remove the paint for you from different rooms for a nominal fee.
There’s no need to try and strip the walls down unless you know how to properly clean up afterward. Your house will be much more dangerous after the work has been completed if you don’t clean up the debris. Remember that all of the debris should be double bagged and then disposed along with the household waste.
If you’ve finished repainting a few of your home’s rooms, you may find that you have some paint left over. This is expected since it’s very difficult to determine exactly how much paint you’ll need for your room or for whatever painting project you’re working on. What do you do with this paint? Some people throw it in the garbage, but that’s actually frowned upon if the paint is oil-based. Even if it’s latex paint, you shouldn’t simply throw the can of paint in the garbage. Here are some tips on storing or discarding your paint.
Do You Need to Keep It?
In most cases, you’ll want to keep your partially-empty can of paint just in case you see that you missed a spot or in case you need to touch up your paint job. This is especially true if you’re using a custom color and not an off-the-shelf color. It can be very hard to get a second can of paint that perfectly matches your original color.
If you decide to get rid of the paint, note that oil-based paint must be taken to a hazardous waste facility to be disposed of. Most cities have these facilities so you can contact your local city waste management office to learn more. If you’re disposing of latex paint, you should first pour it over a box of cat litter or shredded paper to solidify it and then throw it away.
If you’re going to store your paint, your first instinct is probably to hammer the lid down and then put the can in your garage or shed. This is actually not a good idea unless the garage is insulated. You wouldn’t want your paint to freeze or to overheat. If it does, the consistency of the paint will change and it will no longer be usable. In fact, the paint will become hazardous if exposed to extreme temperatures for too long.
This means you need to find a place that is cool, dry, and insulated to store your paint. Many people put their used paint in the basement, which is a good choice unless it tends to be damp. If that’s not an option, a closet is also a good choice. The main thing is that the paint is put in an area that has little moisture and does not get too hot or cold.
Paint should be stored in its original can. You want to get as much air out of the can as possible, so be sure you first clean the lid and the edge of the can so that the two fit together well. Next, cover the space between the lid and the can with plastic wrap. Tap the lid all around the edge using a rubber mallet, not a hammer, to secure it to the can. A hammer can easily dent the rim, which will allow air into the can. Now place it upside down on the shelf. Putting it upside down actually creates another seal on the lid using the paint itself. If it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, your used paint will be good for about two years.
Here’s a famous line often heard on the site of a wood refinishing or cabinetry project: “Hey, what could go wrong?” Short answer: lots, long answer: more than you can imagine! We’ve been refinishing wood and cabinetry for 20 years, and in that time, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said to myself, or the crew: “Hey, add this to the list of 101 ways to screw up a wood project.”
Because it’s true – there are countless ways to go sideways while finishing or restoring wood surfaces – if you’ve discovered a handful, you’ve only just begun.
There is a magic elixir if you’re willing to swallow it; by fixing it you learn how to NOT do it. It’s the only way; you’ve just learned another way that it won’t work, or another thing to not do, and you can set about correcting it…whatever it may be. The cover charge for getting into this club is the willingness to learn and correct mistakes. It’s not like making a bad paint color choice, there’s much more of a commitment involved. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve learned from because they didn’t go so well and today I’m sharing the top 5 basic tips to help you avoid trouble on a wood finishing project:
Sample Your Stain Color
It’s highly advised to sample your stain color and get an approval of the stained sample from your spouse, a client, designer, GC, or whoever will be helping to complete the painting project. It just needs to get done!
Even if you (or your client) know 100% for sure, absolutely without a single question; It’s still a good idea to test the stain somewhere, like a piece of scrap or the backside of something. It helps you to be sure that you avoid problems such as:
- Crossing a Ben Moore® color over to a Sherwin Williams® stain. Many companies have their own proprietary version of the same color. For example: “Fruitwood” is a color found in many different paint lines and generally the same color with very little differences.
- You’re sampling stain on a piece of wood that is equal in every way to your showcase – preferably from the same lot, or equal in species, age, previous coating, surface prep, etc.
Yes, this includes sanding. There is absolutely no way around it. Wood surfaces should be sanded to at least 180 grit before stain, 220 is better. If you skip sanding, or you’re inconsistent, you’ll have blotchiness after using the stain.
If you want to remove the blotchiness, you will need to sand again (after stain). Although you will probably have to sand a rough spot you missed, try to stain the spot, and then it looks terrible because you’re staining is beginning to overlap causing more intense colors in certain areas. You can avoid all this hassle by sanding evenly and thoroughly the first time.
Using a vacuum is okay but it isn’t the best way to get the sanding dust of the grain. The best method of cleaning is to use compressed air.
To condition, or not to condition? That ‘tis the question. Wood conditioner helps stain set evenly, preventing blotchiness and ugly irregularities in the stain color.
The general rule is soft species equals conditioning, hard species equals no conditioning. This isn’t always true. It’s a good idea to practice on a piece of scrap, or the backside of something, before going on the main stage.
Let the stain dry, this means more than dry to the touch. It means overnight, usually. Check the instructions on the can and make sure you’re vented properly. If you don’t let it dry and cure thoroughly, you’ll risk having to strip your clear coat because it isn’t drying, or it dries cloudy, or it’s alligatoring. If the product is designed to be ready for topcoat in 4-6 hours, great! Just follow the guidelines and ask questions when you’re not sure.
Putty and Fillers
In almost any wood project, there are imperfections in the completed work that need to be addressed somewhere in the finishing process. These range from nail/staple holes to little dings, gaps between pieces resulting from wood warp or just ill-fit, reveals, rough spots.
Keep in mind when filling nails holes: not all putties are compatible with all stains and finishes. Pay close attention to this; it can cause problems to appear even after your top coat or clear coats are applied.
Before Sealing and Topcoats
If you don’t like what you’re seeing, STOP! Applying sealer or topcoats will not change or alter some irregularity that you are noticing. Furthermore, applying sealer or topcoat over something you don’t like will not only change it but then more sanding and stripping will need to be done to remove with every coat that was applied.This rule is very simple: as soon as you see something you don’t like, stop and consult, address the issue and start again.
That was my top 5 tips that will save you time, money, and a headache. If you make a mistake, don’t fret. Almost any mistake can be corrected. You just need a bit of patience and a positive attitude!