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It turns out, you can't burn milk paint off without burning the wood.

That was before I knew how much an antique with original "old red" on it was worth. Probably lost a couple thousand off of value.

Sometimes that's how you learn....
 

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The few times I’ve used paint strippers they were so messy and slow I feel like prefer a heat gun, putty knife, mini scrapers and a few picks for the details. I know there’s the fire risk and the risk of vaporizing the lead (at 1200 F ?) but I use a fully adjustable Milwaukee heat gun with a digital readout, keep the temperature down as far as possible, keep the gun moving and a fire extinguisher handy and I’ve never had an issue.
Heat can take it off fast and easy. I think it's allowed under RRP if the heat gun is under some particular temperature, but I don't know for sure. Like all other aspects if RRP compliance, what ever heat source you use should be certified for that application.
 

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It was taking the old lead paint off real fast until I hit that stubborn layer.....
 

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I've stripped a bunch of different ways, mostly antiques.

Household ammonia
Warm lye
Hot lye
Hot TSP
DNA

You name it for retail strippers, I've probably used it.

There are regional differences in what's desirable for a refinished antique. Up here, you try to keep as much of the old wood look as possible. The hot tank lye people stripping oak would have to stain to try to get an older, non-lightened look. Down in North Carolina, they liked the lightened oak - they really wanted new looking old pieces. ...
 

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Heat can take it off fast and easy. I think it's allowed under RRP if the heat gun is under some particular temperature, but I don't know for sure. Like all other aspects if RRP compliance, what ever heat source you use should be certified for that application.
Yeah I was also pretty sure it was allowed if you made sure not vaporize the lead at 1200 F or something but it’s been a couple years since I took the rrp class and I’ve been making a point of avoiding lead jobs when I can so I’m forgetting some of those details
 

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Yeah I was also pretty sure it was allowed if you made sure not vaporize the lead at 1200 F or something but it’s been a couple years since I took the rrp class and I’ve been making a point of avoiding lead jobs when I can so I’m forgetting some of those details
It used to be 1100F and no open flame, it could always change.
 

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My Forman and I took that stupid class when all this stuff started. I have never done or will do any rrp work, too much paperwork and liability. I have the H.O contract directly with my demo co. and have them deal with all that B.S, much easier.
 

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If sanders aren't effective or if you can't use em without destroying the ornate details, then chemical strip is the next best thing. Infrared strippers could work, but you'll need to find one that's cost effective to purchase, (good luck). I wouldn't even consider using a heat gun on a customer's home. 30 years ago yes, but not now. For chemical stripping, methylene chloride is by far my least favorite and rarely used. There are some citrus & soy gel strippers that could work, but you won't find them at a big box store, and their success is dependent upon what you're trying to remove.

My #1 choice is caustic soda beads, (aka Sodium Hydroxide or Lye). Mix with water and a bit of gain dish soap. Use pump sprayer or even spray bottle. Head-to-toe PPE required. Gotta mask off perimeter extremely well though, since it'll strip anything it comes in contact with. The dish soap keeps it from drying out too quickly.

Spray entire area, and much like stripping popcorn ceilings, go back and re-spray a small area, then attempt to remove what you can. Stiff nylon brushes, scotch-brite pads, & puddy knifes to aid. Depending upon the type of paint you're trying to remove, it may take several applications, but it's easily re-applied and removal is quicker than sanding when you're dealing with ornate & figured structures. Keeping it wet is the key. If it's dry, it ain't workin. That's the biggest issue folks have with Peel Away, since once it dries, it sort of reattaches itself to the substrate. Once you've removed all layers that can easily be removed after re-spraying it, re-spray it again as well as the next section, and move on.

Follow up with oxalic acid. The sodium hydroxide will immediately darken the wood, and the high alkalinity will throw the pH of the wood outta wack. Oxalic neutralizes the pH as well as brightens the wood.

I've used this method to strip just about everything inside a home as well as most solid deck stains and varnishes. It's efficient & effective, but needs to be done responsibly in order to prevent harm to you as well as your surroundings.

Caustic Soda Beads
 

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Talk a little but about how you would collect the lye water that runs down the wainscoting. I've used lye on exteriors, but not interiors. Exterior I neutralize with vinegar since I'm letting all the runoff go into the ground.
 

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Talk a little but about how you would collect the lye water that runs down the wainscoting. I've used lye on exteriors, but not interiors. Exterior I neutralize with vinegar since I'm letting all the runoff go into the ground.
That's a great point and something which will need to be addressed. 6 mil plastic on masking below. Paper borders over that as really the first border of defense. Towels, rags, and/or old runners rolled and butted up to the base sops up most of the mist & drips before ever reaching the plastic. By spraying lighter coats multiple times, runoff is mitigated substantially. If the wood is really slick and everything wants to just run right off, I'll keep an old mop at the ready and swipe the runs before reaching the base. Floor protection is usually an old piece of laminate or vinyl initially, with tape, paper & rubber mats under. I get 150' x 5' bolts of thick rubber from a friend who owns a rubber company. Lays nice & flat and stops anything from reaching the floor. Tape will need to be constantly checked and redone as needed. I'll typically lay whatever surface-appropriate tape directly on the wood, then 3m 2060 over, & top with a thicker duct tape. It's a crap-ton of prep, but still on overall time saver vs. the alternatives, at least when stripping ornate stuff and/or surfaces that can't be sanded aggressively without destroying some detail.
 
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