Stripping Paint from Walls (Part 1)
These pages show an Edwardian house losing its coating. There will be
a further stage for repointing and replacing damaged bricks.
The pictures below show the progress of the project.
The house, after the removal of plants and before
the work commences; note partial removal of loose paint from pebbledash
The test patch to determine which chemical stripper would work
and to give a fixed price contract. Note that this stripper has
preserved the patina of over 90 years of London grime.
The topsoil and all the plants need to be removed; there will be
considerable paint waste, and lots of water from the rinsing stage.
The scaffolding is in place. This took three men six
hours to erect and will remain in place for at least two weeks.
Day 1: Paintwork to be protected has to be masked.
After a frustrating day, some progress has been made.
For this paint, two chemicals are needed; the second will be applied
Day 2: The doorway to the outside toilet, now part of
the kitchen, has been filled with two different types of brick, and
not cut into the original. Otherwise, progress was good. The pointing
and brick surfaces are resisting the hot, high pressure water well.
The remaining windows have been masked off.
Day 3: The second chemical was applied to the flank
wall, and the first to the rear. The estimate for the project will
now be six days! And then the removal of the render will start.
Day 5: After days 4 and 5, the end of the chemical stripping
is in sight. Below and above this window are cosmetic problems which
will need attention - the modern window has a crude concrete lintel
and the opening of the replaced window filled at the bottom with cement
or something else.
Action shot showing the high pressure jet blasting the
Day 6 and the chemical stripping is complete.
The story is continued...
This project presents a typical conundrum; the original problem was serious
but localised damp, and an inappropriate 'look' to the house. Without
the damp, the best approach would have been to allow the paint to erode
over time, protecting any exposed wall with a lime-based paint. With the
damp problem, the balance of the debate shifts. If the pebble-dash render
had been unpainted, it would have been best to open up cracks and fill
them with a lime mortar. The paint tipped the argument in favour of the
more invasive and destructive approach adopted; full-scale removal and
re-rendering. In the case of an architecturally unique building, a more
cautious approach would still be favoured.
On chemical stripping, the conclusion is that it can be very effective.
Provided the correct chemicals are used and the pressure washer operator
is careful, minimal damage should be caused to the brickwork. If you think
this method would suit your own project, follow these tips:
- Insist on a test patch; this will cost money but ensures that the
chemicals will work and that brickwork should not be damaged. If you
accept the quotation, the cost is typically refunded.
- Remove all plants and topsoil upto two metres from the walls - or
one metre if you can accept some damage and paint residue.
- Move any valuable curtains, carpets and other items from close to
the windows; the washing water often leaks into the building.
- Ensure that any scaffolding makes minimal contact with the walls;
at each such point, some paint will inevitably remain
- Take advantage of the scaffolding to redecorate, renew guttering etc.
- This is not a cheap process; expect to pay £500-£1000
for the scaffolding and £2000-£5000 for the stripping, depending
on the chemicals needed and the wall area.
- Expect the worst; paint is usually applied to conceal problems. You
will have to repoint at least some of the wall, remove cement-filled
holes, and reseal gaps such as those between window frames and brickwork.
Make sure you use lime-based products for these tasks - not silicone
fillers, cement etc.