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Basic Principles Of Paint Removal

An effective paint-removal process should not damage the substrate (the surface underneath the paint). It should also enable the paint to be completely removed from the substrate. Our products make all this possible by dissolving the paint to a residue, which is then washed off the surface. No scraping, sanding, wire brushes or abrasives of any sort are necessary. The pores of the surface or the grain of the wood can thus be left completely free of paint.

Remove the paint, not the surface underneath it!

Any surface, from fine timber mouldings, to soft red bricks, can be left looking as if it had never been painted.


Different paints need different kinds of paint-remover. By selecting the right product from our range, you can remove virtually any paint or coating from virtually any surface. Use our Product Selector ascertain the best product for your job.

Trial Packs
We always recommend a trial pack for testing which is essential to ensure you have the right product for the job. These are £7.50 each or two for £9.50 – product/s, carriage and VAT included. The 250ml packs are more than adequate to carry out testing in unobtrusive areas. Trial packs, along with all of our products, can be ordered from our shop.

Paint/Coating Analysis
If you are unsure what type of paint or coating you are trying to remove we can analyse it, free of charge and recommend the product most effective for the job. Simply post a sample of your paint or coating to us along with your contact details. (Samples should be as large as possible and certainly no smaller than a 50p piece). Make sure your sample is the full thickness of the paint layer.

For large or tricky projects, we can suggest a select number of contractors who have the experience and expertise in paint removal and whom are familiar with our products. They would be happy to arrange a site visit to discuss your requirements. A list of suggested contractors can be found here.

What can’t be removed?

Virtually any coating can be removed from virtually any surface. See our Product selector Notable exceptions are limewash and cement based paints (e.g. “Snowcem”). Limewash (not to be confused with whitewash) is, once cured, a thin layer of limestone. Like cement mortars, it can be very slowly dissolved with an acidic cleaner but the process is extremely time-consuming, as the product has to be continually re-applied. Removal is therefore only practicable if the limewash is very thin. There is no straightforward solution, as any form of air-abrasive (blasting) or mechanical system will be destructive to the substrate.

On brickwork, try ACICLEAN liberally applied, brushed over every two or three minutes and pressure-washed off every fifteen minutes. Wet the surface thoroughly before you start, to minimize the penetration of the product into the brickwork. If you use the pressure washer to do this, it will blow off any loose areas of limewash at the same time. Where limewash is revealed after removing an overlaying paint layer, the options are generally: (1) If the limewash layer is thin and patchy, consider attempting removal by the method described above. (2) Leave it to weather away naturally. (3) Apply limewash or lime paint over the top. These are very vapour-permeable finishes which will not inhibit the essential breathing characteristics of solid wall buildings. For more information regarding limewash and other lime products visit

Do’s & Don’ts

  • Always do a test on a sample area first – our trial packs are a very economical way of doing these all-important tests. For larger jobs it can be worthwhile ordering a 5 litre pack in order to test in multiple areas.
  • With a large job, do ensure that the area(s) where you do the test(s) is/are representative of the area as a whole
  • When doing tests, do ensure that the product is applied sufficiently thickly, as explained in the relevant product usage data sheet
  • When doing tests, do experiment with different dwell times of application, according to the relevant product usage data sheet
  • When doing tests, do always wash off the residues even though the paint-remover may appear not to have worked. This often unexpectedly produces the hoped-for results!

Useful Tips

    • When washing off by hand, a sponge is essential to remove residues scrubbed off the surface.
    • The paint-remover should do the work, not the scraper. If any undissolved paint remains after washing off, a second application will be needed.
    • Polythene sheeting is compatible with all our products, making it a suitable material for masking and protection work.
    • If practical, a pressure washer is the quickest way to wash off the product, however good results may also be obtained with a scrubbing brush and water
    • A hot water pressure-washer is, for most jobs, quicker and more effective than a cold water machine. For some paint removal jobs, hot is essential.
    • With a pressure washer, you can quickly and easily wash off the dissolved paint, utilizing it for gouging out the last of any undissolved paint will damage the substrate.
    • Keep the nozzle of the pressure-washer just near enough to the work to cleanly wash off the dissolved paint. Too close and the water pressure will damage the substrate.
    • What pressure?? –  The higher the pressure, the further away the nozzle can be held from the surface; thus wider coverage can be obtained with each pass.

Why not sandblast the paint off?

Air-abrasive systems, in their various wet or dry, high or low pressure forms, regardless of the type of abrasive, cannot distinguish between the coating to be removed and the substrate. Coatings are also often harder or more resistant to the propelled abrasive than the substrate which is to be exposed, so that once the abrasive penetrates a small area of the paint, it rapidly erodes the substrate before removing adjacent areas of paint.

Brickwork looking like dried sponge, carved stonework with its detail all but obliterated and woodwork with the appearance of sea-eroded driftwood are common examples of air-abrasive systems having provided a quick and easy but otherwise unsatisfactory solution.

Here to help

Our products, selected and used correctly, can produce outstanding results. However, every job is different and paint removal an inexact science. Possible permutations of paint coating types, paint layers and substrates are infinite and often vary within one job. We do not pretend to have magic answers to every paint-removal problem, but we always welcome the opportunity to help you with any of the knowledge we may have gleaned from over 45 years involvement with paint-removers. So never hesitate to let us know the results of your tests, even – or especially! – if they are inconclusive.

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