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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our exterior season is fast winding down here in Minnesota. I'm curious about your techniques and thoughts on scraping. I had a client that asked a question that gave me a little pause a while back, namely, when scraping peeling paint, how do you know how much to scrape? I realized I didn't have a very strict standard for that and wasn't taught one. I like to be thorough of course, but wonder if there are definitions for this.

And, what are your tips, tricks and techniques and tools for effective and efficient scraping? I'm typically doing residential repaints. Commonly scraping paint from wood. Scraper, Five in One, Power sander/(grit?) Which when and how? What do you remove and what do you leave? I have a good feel, but would love others feedback and thoughts.

And how do you approach lead jobs differently when it comes to scraping (and surface cleaning on lead jobs for that matter).
 

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Our standard for scraping was always "scrape to sound strata". Vague , yes, but it's a hard thing to nail down in definite terms and is a subjective matter. Any written standard is subject to the scraper's opinion.

I always liked a 2" carbide scraper...anything bigger and the power of the tool gets distributed over too large of an area, decreasing effectiveness. For detail work it's hard to beat a good sharp 1/2" chisel. Leave the 5 in 1 for opening cans and cleaning rollers. As far as sanding, anything from a coarse foam block to RO sander, depending on desired finish. We used to burn off a lot of window sills and railing tops if they showed any signs of chipping. Once the lead regs kicked in this practice was reserved for only the worse areas or highest dollar jobs. I always tried to at least give the appearance of following lead regs, which is more than a lot of painters in my area do. I'm betting most don't even own a HEPA vac.
 

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Like he said a 2" carbide scraper, and i get more off on the backstroke than i do pushing the scraper forward. Scrape until it doesnt want to chip or flake anymore, again backstroking will give a more aggressive result than scraping forward with a chisel.(by backstroke i mean your pulling the scraper not pushing).
I hit it with an 80 grit on the Rotex 90, or a 60 grit with the palm sander.
Lead surface prep and cleaning is done very carefully. If its gonna flake or come right off with my hand i have something down to catch it. Really try not to touch the stuff but with the festool. Even then it doesnt suck up 100%. Wear your respirator, pray for no wind, be mindful of your surroundings.
 

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Because a painting service has such a wide range of what's considered an acceptable cost driven outcome, there is really no "one" way to approach surface preparation.


With that said, there are some general best practices that include scraping and sanding;


1. Remove all contaminants from the surface (This could be everything from pressure washing to complete removal of an existing coating if it has the potential to compromise the new coating.


2. If existing coating is sound, cleaning surface and scraping loose paint prior to priming, is acceptable


3. If existing paint requires more cosmetic treatment after scraping and priming, additional costs for patching defects will be necessary


Preparation, coating application and aesthetic outcome is driven by what the homeowner is willing to pay.
 

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I tell my employees that if you try hard enough you can scrape it all off. So, my standard is that if you have to work hard to get it off then it does not need to come off.
That said, it seems that I always miss some of the loose paint and therefore when I am priming I always have a small scraper and stiff putty knife on me for the loose paint that I missed the first time around.

Sent from my SM-A600U using Tapatalk
 

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Like LB65, I used to prefer burning paint off rather than scraping or grinding. With the right torch and technique, it would go pretty fast with minimal mechanical sanding afterwards. And working in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to work on a number of Victorians.

But given the fire hazards, lead exposure, and cracking window panes, I think burning has become obsolete.

Frankly, most homeowners are only going to want to pay for the pressure washing, and hand scraping. Not realizing that by the time you start digging into the old coating, it's pretty much dead and in need of more extensive removal, and or significant patching to level off the defects created by extensive scraping.

When that occurs I don't know how a homeowner could expect it to be remedied at the initial agreed upon price. But they always do, in most cases.
 

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But given the fire hazards, lead exposure, and cracking window panes, I think burning has become obsolete.
A painter friend of mine was burning the paint off the eves of an historic craftsman bungalow using torches. He didn't realize the attic fan was on. The fan pulled the flames up through cracks in the eves and started a major fire. The main structure was mountain stone, otherwise would have been a total loss. The fire did $200,000 in damage, early 1980's dollars. I would have opted for heat guns in this case, and hopefully remembered to be certain the fan was off!:surprise:

Nothing like burning off a 9 over 9 light double hung and on the last light hear that pingy little crack of the pane cracking:sad:
 

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A painter friend of mine was burning the paint off the eves of an historic craftsman bungalow using torches. He didn't realize the attic fan was on. The fan pulled the flames up through cracks in the eves and started a major fire. The main structure was mountain stone, otherwise would have been a total loss. The fire did $200,000 in damage, early 1980's dollars. I would have opted for heat guns in this case, and hopefully remembered to be certain the fan was off!:surprise:

Nothing like burning off a 9 over 9 light double hung and on the last light hear that pingy little crack of the pane cracking:sad:
Heres one that was started by painters last year on a Pyramid house.
https://www.chicagotribune.com/subu...-pyramid-house-fire-update-st-0719-story.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=pyr...XVPn0KHRGUCvAQ7AkoAXoECAwQDQ&biw=1670&bih=780

The firemen had to use the worker's lifts to fight the fire because their trucks were too wide to cross the bridge over the moat. It's a good thing they had a moat because there are no hydrants in the area, so they pumped the water from the moat!
 

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I'm glad I wasn't a painter in the 80s.

You missed all of the fun. All the first generation Boomers were in their 30's. They even had a show just for them called "Thirty Something". "The Big Chill" movie was extremely popular. It was the first time you would have heard the term "Yuppy" Young Upwardly Mobile something or other. Everybody seemed to be successful Savings and Loans brokers, bankers, Investors, GC's, doctors, lawyers. You name it. And with it came a lot of cocaine and goofy homeowners who liked to party.


That's all I have to say about that.
 

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Heres one that was started by painters last year on a Pyramid house.
https://www.chicagotribune.com/subu...-pyramid-house-fire-update-st-0719-story.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=pyr...XVPn0KHRGUCvAQ7AkoAXoECAwQDQ&biw=1670&bih=780

The firemen had to use the worker's lifts to fight the fire because their trucks were too wide to cross the bridge over the moat. It's a good thing they had a moat because there are no hydrants in the area, so they pumped the water from the moat!
I sphynx my mummy would have luved that house! As would someone else, who's name I can not mention...a moat? I could go on about this, but the point (on top of the fence) is probably moat.:plain:
 

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You missed all of the fun. All the first generation Boomers were in their 30's. They even had a show just for them called "Thirty Something". "The Big Chill" movie was extremely popular. It was the first time you would have heard the term "Yuppy" Young Upwardly Mobile something or other. Everybody seemed to be successful Savings and Loans brokers, bankers, Investors, GC's, doctors, lawyers. You name it. And with it came a lot of cocaine and goofy homeowners who liked to party.


That's all I have to say about that.
You forgot Miami Vice, Forrest.
 

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You know what's interesting about scraping......I'm old so I've gone back and re-done many jobs where I did extensive scraping.....places that I scraped down to bare wood, then sanded to a feathered edge PEELED worse than spots I missed and then painted over just because i was in a hurry. Just seems to be no method to the madness. I've even seen painters literally paint right over top of curled up old, brittle paint, and, remarkably, the new paint holds up for some length of time.

Always frustrated me that I would go to all the trouble to scrape and prep correctly only to have some failures whilst someone else did a blow and go, collected a big check, and their sloppy work, although looking awful, sometimes lasted longer than the jobs I did.
 

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I did residential repaints for over ten years and we had a few of those carbide scrapers, proof is we used them all the time in the beginning to never using them, a big trusty 5 and 1 tool, likely 10 and 1 today as technology progresses so fast LOL.

I have got real good with orbital sanders over the years but can not say exactly what grit to use for any situation but there are times when I will just sand siding, and trim alone or in combination with scraping and 80 grit is a good place to start.

I once got to a house being prepped and two guys were scraping siding and I had to Say Stop! They could have been scraping hours more and it would just keep coming off, gotta draw the line somewhere. When paint is peeling so bad the damage is already done.

There are times when working on the sunny side that paint becomes softer and peels rather then scrapes off and that is bad especially on window trim. Much better to scrape out of direct sunlight.

Also pressure washing, I used to wash up to 3 or 4 houses a week and consider them more for washing and perhaps removing obvious paint peeling then actual paint removal. Use water pressure sparingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, thanks for all the insights everybody! I'm going to have to try the 1/2 chisel...there's lots of situation I can think of for that one. I haven't messed with torches, and hope not to have too! @ 95 degree heat, 90 % humidity, 30 feet off the ground...through in a moisture retaining tyveck suit for good measure :)

And thanks for the early mentioned protocols, somewhat open for interpretation though they must be. And "scrape to sound strata" is a nice little mantra anyway :)
 

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A painter friend of mine was burning the paint off the eves of an historic craftsman bungalow using torches. He didn't realize the attic fan was on. The fan pulled the flames up through cracks in the eves and started a major fire. The main structure was mountain stone, otherwise would have been a total loss. The fire did $200,000 in damage, early 1980's dollars. I would have opted for heat guns in this case, and hopefully remembered to be certain the fan was off!:surprise:

Nothing like burning off a 9 over 9 light double hung and on the last light hear that pingy little crack of the pane cracking:sad:

I heard a painter using a torch on the exterior, meanwhile another painter inside smelled smoke. Turned out the insulation was old newspaper and had started to smoke!
 

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I heard a painter using a torch on the exterior, meanwhile another painter inside smelled smoke. Turned out the insulation was old newspaper and had started to smoke!
My father had a paint company when I was younger. He was painting a house a few blocks away from our home, stripping the exterior with propane torches. He left his worker there unattended while coming home for lunch. During lunch the fire siren at the local volunteer fire department went off. It was unusual for the siren to go off other than at 12:00 noon. I remember him looking up at the clock, it being past 12:00. The thought entered his mind that his worker might have set the house on fire. After entertaining that thought I remember him saying “Nah, it couldn’t be” and continued eating his lunch until hearing the fire truck sirens in close proximity. I remembered him jumping up from the table and bolting for his truck, flying outta there like a bat outta hell. He returned to the job site only to find the house up in flames with the firemen attempting to extinguish the blaze. It was his first year in business for himself, not having liability insurance. I remembered all my family members having to kick in, rebuilding the entire front of the house. Burning paint off of homes with torches was common practice back then.
 
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