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This Old Crack House

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stripping Paint from Metal

We all know how to strip paint from wood. (Well, if you have been reading these houseblogs for a while you would know.) Have you ever tried to strip paint from metal? There are several ways to do this. You can try burning the paint off (doesn't always work), you can try boiling the paint off (the wife would kill me if I used a decent pan for this), you can get it sand blasted off (I'm really too lazy and to cheap to do this if I don't have to) or you can use some sort of paint stripper. Being the cheap bastard that I am, I always go for the paint stripper. The problem with paint stripper is that it can evaporate before it has time to work properly. So the trick is to cover the metal item with the chemical stripper, then stick it in a plastic bag and let it sit for a while. Small items can be put in an old coffee can and covered with the stripper.Next, you wash off the chemicals and peeling paint. Take a wire brush and scrape all the paint flakes off. Then you may need to rub down with some steel wool. You may also need to break out that extra large can of "elbow grease" to get off that original layer of black paint that must have been made with hoof or rabbit skin glue because it is so stubborn to remove.
After all the hard work, you are left with this



or this. My foot is in the picture for scale.




And now you can spray them with varnish/shellac or you can paint them black all over again!

Oh no! It's time to strip the jam off of Elizabeth's face before evaporation makes the job more difficult.....

26 Comments:

At 11/09/2005 8:58 AM, Anonymous Dennie said...

Gary,
When I moved in my house ALL the door hardware and hinges had been painted with numerous coats of paint. Not sure if you have ever tried this for stripping metal before or if it's really unsafe to do it - but - I have found this method very effective: Take a thick plastic container with a lid and place the items in it. Cover with cold tap water and then sprinkle over the water Red Devil Drain opener (maybe half the container for 2 gallons of water). It's basically just lye. Stir it around a bit to dissolve and let it sit covered overnight or longer if necessary. Remember this lye and care should be taken to avoid getting it on your skin. Then using gloves, remove the items and rinse in cold water. The paint will just melt away. You might need to use a stiff brush to help get the remaining paint out of any crevices. I like this method as it does not have a strong chemical smell - is basically mess free - works on latex or oil paints and the lye water can be dumped down your drain and helps keep your drains running clear! Plus the lye is really very inexpensive compared to commercial strippers.

 
At 11/10/2005 2:27 PM, Blogger derek said...

The original black may be "japanned". You can also re-japan the object, I've never done it, would be curious to see it done.

 
At 11/13/2005 4:45 PM, Blogger Jocelyn said...

I do it the same way you do it! Saran Wrap and a disposable roasting/baking pan + strypeeze are my weapons of choice.

 
At 10/08/2007 9:15 PM, Blogger Daniel Whitmer said...

It is now 2007 - I've got a new old house with painted metal door hardware and lye has been banned. Any other good techniques for stripping painted metal?

 
At 10/16/2007 6:22 PM, Blogger Daniel Whitmer said...

Thanks for the kind help. Metal hardware has been boiled and stripped! Now I've got bare metal decorative hinges... any suggestions on what to seal them with? I don't really want to spray paint them. Thanks again.

 
At 10/24/2008 10:30 AM, Blogger Izzi13 said...

If you want the metal to show, I recommend Krylon 1313 for a satin finish. Apply lightly, allow to dry and apply a second coat. Be sure to get both side of it.
Another option that'll last longer is marine varnish.

 
At 5/28/2009 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am trying to strip an old kids peddal tractor that has both the original finish and a more than liberal coating of aerosol red paint. I also. need to remove the red paint from the hard rubber tires and I noticed there are decals under a coat or two of pant and would like to strip without further damaging the decals. Needless to say the tractor will not fit, very easily in any kind of sealed container. Any suggestions?

 
At 5/28/2009 5:19 PM, Blogger Gary said...

To answer anonymous,

Garbage bags. Anything that prevents the stripper from evaporating.

 
At 6/02/2009 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am supposedly a professional painter and made a big boo boo. I painted a 10-inch wide strip of metal flashing on a 7-11 with a roller and it looked okay as I was going along but as it dried, there is nothing but ridges. And then I was stupid enough to go back and tried to sand them down, and then, (worse! I know! I'm embarrassed!) I took a scraper knife and actually partially peeled the ridges down, and now I have long strips of indentation as well as ridges. This is a General Paint HP2000, semi-gloss. Nice paint, but trying to sand it is like trying to sand rubber. The flashing is 20-ft up the wall, I am on a ladder, etc. The trouble spot is about a six-foot section, thankfully I switched to brushing for the rest of it, and the rest looks amazing. My disaster sits at the very front of the building where everybody drives up. Maytbe they don't all look up and think, Who the hell painted that? But still, I want to fix this. Any ideas?????? Help!!!!! Amy

 
At 6/02/2009 2:01 PM, Blogger Gary said...

I would look for some kind of filler that could be scraped over the surface like you would when applying joint compound to a wall in order to smooth it out. After lightly sanding it you could paint it and it would be smooth. Certain wood putty's come to mind or even "Bondo" might work. Artists use gesso to make a surface smooth. Think along those lines but make sure it would hold up outside.

 
At 10/02/2009 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can I remove paint from the metal facing/handle/trim of my refrigerator? It's stainless but didn't look nice. I painted it, but not well and want to remove the paint. I started with mineral spirits and steel wool. It did remove some but there is quite a bit left and it is not coming off.

 
At 10/02/2009 8:28 PM, Blogger Gary said...

To the last anonymous. Try putting paint stripper on with a brush and tape a plastic bag over the handle for an hour. Then use fine steel wool.

 
At 11/06/2009 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: stripping paint from metal door hinges, etc. Best method I found - Use your old crock pot. Put items to be stripped in the pot, cover with water, add 2 tablespoons laundry detergent and set the pot on low or medium. Let it stew at least over night (check to make sure the water still covers the items). The next morning take out the pieces with tongs - paint falls off! If the item cools too much or paint is still adhering drop it back in the pot for another stew. I got enamel paint layers built up over the last 50 years off!!

 
At 5/20/2010 11:59 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I'm renovating a 1915 house that has gorgeous cast bronze hinges that had been covered with layers and layers of paint. I had been using a method of soaking the hinges in chemical stripper over night and cleaning them off with a brass wire brush. This method works slowly. It took 3 or 4 soakings to remove all of the paint that got into the grooves.
The method I use now is similar to the one mentioned above. I just take a crock pot filled with water and dish soap and a splash of white vinegar and let it soak overnight on low heat. For flat surfaces the paint peels off in one go. For more ornate surfaces, I scrub or scrape off what I can and put it back in the pot to soak more overnight. I repeat this until all the paint comes off. For the most stubborn paint in the grooves I apply stripper to the surface with a natural fiber brush, put the hinges in a metal container and seal it with butcher paper and then a plastic bag (because stripper melts plastic), and let it sit overnight again. I do a final scrubbing with a brass wire brush rinse it and dry it off.
I finish off with a metal polish for a shiny bronze finish or with oil for a gorgeous dark oil-rubbed finish.
It's a slow process, but no slower than just using stripper and much less costly. Definitely worth it.

 
At 10/03/2010 2:21 PM, Blogger daniel said...

How do we safely strip a rusting antique outdoor three piece wrought iron setee set? We've tried brushing and paint stripper which has prooved very tiring and frustrating with poor results.

 
At 8/29/2011 5:47 PM, Blogger divaboris said...

any chance of getting the original finish off metal hinges? I have brass colored hinges, but underneath, you can see it was originally a silver metal color. I would prefer silver (or even black if I thought that painting them would work). anyway, I've read about muriatic acid, but that sounds too dangerous. There is supposed to be some kind of etching spray that etches the surface to prepare for spray painting. got any experience with either method??

 
At 8/29/2011 6:16 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Muriatic acid is diluted hydrochloric acid. I have never used it on metal, only on brick work. I would spray paint the hinges. Only person that is going to notice them is you or someone who knows about fixing an old house. I doubt they would ask!

 
At 11/06/2011 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried the crockpot method with detergent and vinegar, and I was blown away by how well it worked. The paint didn't disintegrate -- it came off in a big thick sheet. Very satisfying!! I had some trouble with locks for the double-hung windows. They're very gritty. But I think they'll come around with a little ScotchBrite.

THANK YOU.

 
At 2/17/2012 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Gary!
I am coming to your post a million years after it was written, but the advice is sound and I will try it for the metal heat registers with at least eight coats of paint on them...at least the parts that I can remove from the wall. Our registers were installed when the house was built circa 1941, and the actual vent itself is part of the wall. How do you suggest I remove the coats of paint on the parts of the register that can't be taken off and soaked?
Thanks!

 
At 2/21/2012 9:21 AM, Blogger Gary said...

@ the last anonymous, who is going to notice the edges besides you? I would sand and then spray paint the edges myself.

 
At 4/20/2012 6:20 PM, Anonymous RK said...

Is there a "miracle" paint remover that we could use for wrought-iron railings?? They are in very bad shape and only small ornamentation to deal with, but we need to get them ready for priming and painting. Please tell us of a chemical paint remover. Thanks.

 
At 4/20/2012 11:16 PM, Blogger Gary said...

@RK, there are many chemical strippers on the market. I think the key to getting the paint off of metal is to not allow the stripper to evaporate. I would suggest testing a section and covering it in a plastic bag. The other option is a wire brush attachment on an electric drill to grind the paint off.

 
At 6/27/2012 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really works!

 
At 12/28/2012 5:45 PM, Blogger SheriRB said...

I live in a mid-century home and have what looks like could be beautiful metal trim work as columns and trim on the front porch. One piece alone is 6 feet long, so boiling it is not an option nor is soaking it in a bowl. Would it work to paint the stripper, wrap the columns in saran wrap/garbage bag and let it sit? I have used a wire brush but there is some old and really stubborn paint on there.

 
At 12/28/2012 5:55 PM, Blogger Gary said...

SheriRB, you can try that. Another thing to consider is using a butane torch to burn it off if you are working outdoors.

 
At 9/27/2013 6:08 PM, OpenID jtbmetaldesigns said...

Or you can use a slightly weaker alkali such as trisodium phosphate with a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap in a crock pot, slow cooker, or double boiler. This gets about 180 to 200 degrees and will even remove a lot of paint from rags as well! Moat effective after 4 hours.

 

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