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How to strip layers of paint



If you have  never used a hot air gun you will be surprised at how quickly a heat gun will remove layer upon layer of paint or varnish. Although it's a messy job, a dropcloth will make cleanup easier.


No special technique is required other than to acquaint yourself with pointing the heat gun in the right direction, in order to be able to maneuver the scraper behind the paint to make scraping off much easier and quicker. Simply guide the heat nozzle over the area in a slow circular motion.



Never allow the gun to point directly at one spot for more than a few seconds. Though the heat gun does not produce a flame, the heat is hot enough to cause scorching, and in some cases, can set the wood on fire.




As the paint begins to bubble, gently scrape the softened paint from the surface with a putty knife or paint scraper.




However, if you need to remove water-based paints you will need to use a paint stripper. Try Plascon RemovALL for an eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based paint strippers.


Buying a heat gun


Some of the more basic heat guns have just one heat/fan speed and are designed primarily for basic paint stripping. Look for a model that has adjustable heat settings  that allow you to have more control and avoid scorching the surface being stripped. While the temperature of any heat gun can be reduced by holding it further away from the surface, having variable settings does give you more choice.


A model that offers additional attachments for specific uses other than stripping paint can be useful. With these attachments you can use a heat gun for softening adhesives, especially contact adhesive,  heat shrinking and even removing silicone from windows. 


Safety first


A heat gun is an easy tool for a beginner to use, but should still be handled carefully. Be constantly aware of the high temperature reached when operating on maximum power.


Do wear thick gloves when using a hot air gun.


Due to the chemical nature of paint and plastics, work in a ventilated area to reduce any possibility of toxic fumes.


After using, have a suitable place to put down the hot air gun while it cools. The heated nozzle can melt nylon, plastic and other synthetic materials while still hot.


 Janice Anderssen