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In the mood for a little redecorating? Or have you spilled some paint on a surface that has dried and now needs to be removed? Thankfully, you can strip unwanted paint in a range of ways. One method is to use a power washer.
A power washer is one of the most useful pieces of equipment any homeowner can possess. It’s easy to use and saves you serious time on certain projects. However, when it comes to stripping paint, you should take the necessary precautions and understand the preparation needed.
Remember, a new coat of paint is only as stable as the surface underneath it. That is why you should make sure the surface you are washing can withstand the high pressure the power washer exudes. Fortunately, most power washers have different pressure levels so you can effectively strip paint from a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, concrete, and other materials.
Because of the high pressure levels, a power washer can be extremely efficient and can drastically cut the time needed to strip a large area of paint.
For the most effective paint peeling power, you should opt for a washer with a range of 2000 PSI to 4000 PSI. But as with all power equipment, you must always wear safety gear. This includes safety goggles and closed-toe shoes.
You should also cover outdoor fixtures and ensure all windows and doors are closed so water can’t get inside.
It’s important to use the correct nozzle or you may easily damage the surface. For paint stripping, the yellow 15-degree nozzle is the best option.
Make sure you hold the washer securely at an angle while maintaining a distance of around 12 to 18 inches from the surface. This is so the spray can reach under the layers of paint without damaging the actual surface.
You should work in sections and continuously move the nozzle at all times. Spray in a downward and sweeping motion. This will direct the paint chips away from the surface.
Can you pressure wash paint off wood?
In short, yes, you can strip paint from a wooden surface but you must have the correct settings on the washer. If not, you could damage the wood underneath the paint. As with any surface, you must prepare properly and keep the washer at the right distance from the surface at all times.
When you’re stripping paint from a wooden surface, make sure that you move the nozzle along the grain of the wood. Ensure that the pressure washer is in continuous motion in the same direction as the wood grain.
Move the washer parallel to the lines in the wood (from one end of the board to the other). Do not move across the width of the board as this goes against the grain and result in damaging the integrity of the wood.
This will remove most of the paint but some can sometimes remain. If you remove every little trace of paint on the wood, you stand a higher chance of damaging the surface underneath.
Once the surface has dried completely after being power washed, you can then scrape or lightly sand off any loose paint that may be left over.
Keep the nozzle at a slight angle to the surface. Again, this is so the water can reach under the paint with better effect and not gouge the wood.
The type of wood you’re power washing may require a certain level of power too. Any power washer that is stronger than 3000 PSI will probably damage the wooden surface immeasurably unless it’s rough grain wood. For soft-grained wood, set your power washer to 600 to 800 PSI. For standard grain wood, use 800 to 1200 PSI.
Before you spray the surface with your power washer, you should:
- Clean the wood with a hose – This will loosen any old paint that can come off easily.
- Check the paint type – Oil-based paint is generally a lot tougher to remove from wood and may need more tools than a power washer. Check by rubbing the paint with alcohol. If the paint comes off in a rag, it’s latex. If not, it’s oil-based.
- Spray the paint with your power washer – Make sure you use the right technique to not damage the surface below the paint
What PSI pressure washer removes paint?
It’s important to choose the right PSI when stripping paint with a pressure washer. One that provides too little pressure won’t remove all of the paint while a washer with too much power will strip the paint away but also damage the wood underneath.
The level of PSI required can depend on the surface you are stripping. While you should only use 600 to 800 PSI on softwood and 800 to 1200 PSI on standard grain types, you may need to use a lot more on other surfaces. A high-pressure washer with 1200 to 2000 PSI may clean a surface before painting but it won’t always remove a lot of paint.
For some of the most stubborn paint jobs, you might have to use a 3000 PSI pressure washer. This will certainly exert enough force to break paint off a surface.
For most paint stripping jobs on metal or concrete, you should consider using a hot water pressure washer unit within the 2000 to 4000 PSI range. In general, a pressure washer with 3000 PSI should be best for removing stubborn paints off wooden surfaces.
If you have flaking or peeling paint that is already loose from the surface, you can use a pressure washer with a range of as little as 1200 to 2500 PSI. You may struggle to remove all of the paint with anything less but you can always choose to manually scrape off any small remains afterward if required.
Pressure washers make tasks easier but you will probably have to hand scrape some parts of paint off at some point. In some cases, water blasting will make the edges of the paint curl up. If this occurs, wait for the surface to dry and then use a scraper to remove the remains. This will create a smooth surface before you repaint.