Best way to protect hardwood floors while using chemical stripper

saintpflaJune 10, 2009

I'm getting ready to use PeelAway 7 on my fireplace interior brick. This should remove the 8000 layers of paint colors applied from the rainbow color pallet over the years. Is there something wrong with leaving brick alone? Does it take the same will-power that not scratching a mosquito bite takes? Honestly....!

My floors are beautiful, finished heart-pine. As some of you here have been through this process, what have been your key learnings on how to protect your floors from both water and chemical stripper damage/accidents?

I'm concerned about both the stripper and the water from the rinsing process accidentally puddling on my floors.

My thoughts are to tape off the plastic barrier around the fireplace and up the sides of the walls (sorta like a pool formation) to prevent any leaking from getting under the plastic barrier.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have from your experience!

Happy Renovating!

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A person after my own heart! I've done just what you are considering.

I absolutely agree with taping off the area. When you apply the PA, stop about an inch from the floor. PA7 will run down the brick a bit and it'll do the stripping on that last inch anyway. Also, check on dripping during the 24 hr period and wipe up any that closely approaches the floor When you start the rinsing process, liquid will get behind the tape and it'll come unstuck. So, be there with tons of paper towel/rags and wipe as you go. Our floors have an oil based finish and I found that if I was diligent with keeping my eyes on what was happening, I was able to avoid floor finish damage.

Once you get the paint off, you'll probably find that you still have a haze of paint residue - enough that you think "why did I bother doing this". Someone suggested to me the absolutely best final step - mix 50/50 mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil. Wipe over all the brick and mortar. This someone gets rid of the haze and the brick looks as good as new. Also for the bits you just can't get out, use either crayola crayon or tiny dots of artists paint to dot over the stubborn paint.

You are going to be soooooo happy when you complete this project!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 6:05AM
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Lido! Thank you very much for responding - especially that you have attempted this enormous task yourself. I applaud you!

I am planning to start the taping off tonight. I'm very nervous about damaging the floors. They were refinished before I bought the house so I can only assume that it's a polyu finish?

Thanks for the tip on the dripping. I wouldn't have thought of that.

A few questions if you don't mind answering since you've done this job.

Did you remove the paint in sections or apply the PA tto the entire brick front? I was going to do a section at a time as I dont have a helper. So, this would probably take me a week to complete due to the 24/hr wait period.

What was the best way you found to sop up the water and goop during the rinsing process? Papertowels? Sheets? Old cotton towels? Newspaper? All of the above?

I bought two large sheets of 'Finish Factor' dual layer floor protector. Bottom part is leak resistent and top layer is a super absorbent sheet (per the package anyway...). I was then going to start with regular plastic floor protector and a layering process to catch any leaks. Wish me luck...

Did you find 24 hours was enough wait time or would 30 hours be better?

I am out of the plastic PA cover material (since they only provide 2 tiny sheets it goes quick...). I plan on covering the PA with newspaper and then taping off with plastic.

Do you have another recommendation on this that you found worked out well?

BIG THANK YOU for your taking the time to respond to me!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Sections, only sections. Our fireplace was floor to ceiling and I started at the top, doing about 2 ft x 3ft at a time. Working at a casual pace, it was totally done in 1 month. I had a couple of 9x12 plastic drop clothes spread far and wide in our living room. 24 hrs was plenty but there were some spots that I had to apply more PA and wait another 24 hrs. I made sure that I took my shoes off when I left the drop cloths/before I walked around/out of the room. The gook spreads on it's own and I didn't want to step in it and then move it around the floors. I used paper towels and had a black contractors garbage bag at my feet to drop them into. I probably went through 24 rolls of it.

When you run out of the PA paper, use Saran Wrap or plastic wrap only and pat it in place. You'll be making too much work for yourself with the newspaper layer.

My last recommendation is that patience will be your best friend. If you have bumpy bricks, ask your dentist for some of his old pick tools - the kind they scrape teeth with and that knick gums! Those things are the best for picking out small bits of paint. Get a scraper kit from Lowe's or Home Depot - the kind with a hard plastic handle and 6 interchangeable heads. The different shaped heads come in handy.

Good luck and check in with pictures and progress reports. What color is the surface color?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 9:25PM
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Hi Lido!

All good advice and I will use your pointers on this project. I did pick up a kit at the hardware store that has metal picks - sorta like dentist tools. I've got a whole but of scrapers and alternate scrapers.

The fireplace is currently a dirty, cream color. Under that I can see grey, that bright 1940's robin egg blue, some white and some green. The bare spots on the brick seem to give them a look of a brown-burgandy-ish - very warm tones. I think it will look nice once it's done.

You had mentioned the mixture of linseed oil to shine up the brick. Is that flamable once dry? If an errant spark flies out and lands on the treated are -since it's dry, there shouldn't be a problem, right?

I'll definitely take before, during and after pics and post back here!

Thanks again for the advice!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 11:25PM
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Stpfla, No problem with the linseed oil/mineral spirits mix. You're right about it being dry and then not flammable. Without that step, I would have been angry at myself for having started it - this was the icing on the cake.

We had cream with an avocado tint on the surface, coral, and then lime green on a rich chocolate color brick. It was awesome when done. DH thought I was nuts when I started the project, but he came around 100% when it was done.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 7:06AM
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Your brick front sounds beautiful! If you have time, I'd love to see your before, during and after pics of your project.

My fireplace hearth was painted as well. It had 2-inches of built up paint. I stripped that immediatley when I first bought the house - before I had any home repair experience. I used regular paint stripper and discovered that they painted over cuban tile. It's very unique and pretty and is a burgandy-brown tile with gold flecks and swirls.

The paint stripper removed any of the shine/sealer on the bricks. So, they have been dull ever since and nothing I've applied seems to bring back the shine. Do you think the LO/mineral spirits mix would work - without setting my house fire? LOL...

Also, I have a glass front-door fireplace insert. I will have to remove first and then reinstall after the paint stripping. Oh joy...what fun that will be....

Honestly....I shudder everytime I watch an HGTV show where they elect to paint the brick. "Stop! Noooo! Don't do it! It's a mistake!...". They do it anyway.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Holy cow....what a hard task THIS project is. The PeelAway7 cut through 4 layers of paint only. The last layer being the lead paint which does not want to budge.

I'm on the second application of PA7. Hoping this works. Otherwise, I'll be looking at mint green splotched all over dark brick. Absoultely hideous.

Who the hell paints a fireplace "mint green"?!?!?!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 11:40PM
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Who the hell paints a fireplace PERIOD?????

Is the mint green gone yet? See why I suggested sections?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 5:56AM
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OMG...this is VERY difficult. I don't know how you (and all the others) did it.

I've realized I'm covering way too much surface and need to go much, much smaller. Of course, after I applied PA7 to another large space that I get to remove today. Yaay.

So far, The Green Monster is winning this war. I can't seem to rinse off the brick well enough to remove all the PA7 and the paint residue.

How did you rinse off the brick well enough and not create a huge puddle on the floor?

Did you find any specific brushes/tools to be most beneficial? I've noticed the grout is soft and I have to not use any metal/wire brushes. Nylon only.

I'd love any suggestions/advice as to techniques that worked for you. I'm going thru nylon brushes like M&Ms.

Just how long did this take you from start to finish? Five years? Eight? I don't know if I can do feels daunting.

I'm not sure PeelAway7 is the right product for this. Take a look at the pics below.

Fireplace with first coat of PA7:

After...still needs more scrubbing and rinsing (w/out flash). This is after 3hrs of scrubbing and 2 coats (two 24hr segments) of PA7.

Same w/flash:

Got ambitious before I knew what I was in for. I get to remove this section today.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:32PM
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"Who the hell paints a fireplace PERIOD?????"

It was popular for a while, and has come and gone a couple times.

As the OP is finding out, it is a PITA to remove.

Sandblasting has been used, but it ruins the brick by removing the hard outer layer and altering the color in many cases.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:56PM
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Yeah, I've read enough about sandblasting to elect to not go that route.

You are so right...this is a total PITA! I'll take a removing painted wallpaper project anytime over THIS!

It wouldn't be so bad if you actually felt like you were making progress. I feel like with all my efforts, I'm not even making a dent. :(

Any suggestions?

Oh and I decided to leave the current section of PA (in above photo) on for 48 hours straight-- as an experiment to see if it makes any improvement.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 5:56PM
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The last thing you want to have happen is the PA7 to dry out - be reallllllly careful with that 48 hr thing!!! It's even worse to try to get dried PA off.

You have bumpy brick! You could get some PA1 if you wanted - I've used it for stripping other surfaces and I've found the main difference is that it's thicker in consistency and not as runny. It works well.

Get the dental picks. For the side spot which is most stripped so far, go to Ace Hardware and get some concrete cleaner. The kind I used came in a white plastic bottle with green writing - about 1 quart size. I'd forgotten but I used this, too, with a wire brush on the brick. I think I used a small wire brush on the grout, too. There is no easy way to rinse this off and keep the floor dry other than layering up stuff on the floor and continually drying as you go - that's another reason for small sections at a time. Yes, some grout came out but for us, not alot.

I relate to what you are going through - it's very tedious work. But you ARE on the way!

Keep us posted! It took me 1 month with some minimal help from DH to get ours done - here's the best picture I have of the finished product. It started out very light.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:29PM
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Thanks, Lido -- especially for the pep talks. I need it!
It took you one month to finish? That should make you an automatic Olympic qualifier. Holy smokes...

What did the concrete cleaner product do for your project? Did it help eliminate some of the paint or the paint residue? I'm lucky because my grout is flat and smooth. My bricks are bumpy as you can see. It's hard to loosen the paint in all those creavices.

I was researching PA1 and thinking of trying it as well. Is the chemical was required as part of the process?

Your house is very impressive. That fireplace is huge! Beautiful house. Great job with the work that you did.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 12:00AM
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I called the national brick organization today. I was directed to an engineer and was able to leave a message regarding my situation. I was told that he receives questions like this frequently and does respond (fingers crossed...).

I'll post back if I receive any new advice on this process from the brick engineer.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:58AM
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That was our last home but thanks for your words.

I used the concrete cleaner to remove paint residue and it worked. At the time, I tried to find what sort of cleaners local Public Works departments used to remove graffiti and the Ace concrete cleaner was the closest I could find. It required wire brush scrubbing and then alot of rinsing. I had one hand with brush/spounge and the other with a wad of paper towel to catch runoff.

Take a look at this thread....

Here is a link that might be useful: removing paint from brick

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 4:41PM
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