In an online forum someone posted a link to an episode of “This Old House” which used a product called the Silent Paint Remover to strip off paint. They were using it outside of a house but I thought I would try it inside on my woodwork. Silent Paint Remover uses infrared heat to soften paint. It’s environmentally friendly. There are no chemicals involved, it works at a low enough operating temperature to prevent plumbic (lead) gases that may be present in the paint from being released and like the name says, it’s silent.
The first thing I should say is this product isn’t cheap. It’s $375 to own it or $22 a day to rent it. It’s not widely available retail yet. I ordered it directly from the manufacturer and it was back ordered for 2 months.
It’s fairly easy to use. You plug it in, turn it on and hold it over the area you want to strip for 20-60 seconds. There are adjustable bars on the side to help stabilize the tool. It covers about a 12″ x 4″ surface area. The paint will start to bubble up or blister and smoke as the Silent Paint Remover starts to work. Then you need to take a scraper and scrape off the paint. It works! It cut through about 8-12 layers of paint right down to the wood. I think this process goes a lot smoother if two people are doing it, one to loosen the paint and another to scrape it off. I was also happy with how light in weight the Silent Paint Remover was.
I did find some drawbacks though.
The Silent Paint Remover doesn’t loosen all the paint in the 12′” x 4″ surface area evenly. The middle part gets done sooner and you have to go back over the edges, several times. The company who manufactures the product recommended wearing gloves, which I didn’t, and the handle got pretty warm. The front and sides of the tool are metal and they get HOT. It’s pretty easy to accidently brush your arm against the metal and burn yourself (which I did). I had a hard time in corners and detailed areas where the surface heights were not even. The Silent Paint Remover was too bulky to fit into corners.
Overall, I like the product. I think I would like it better if it stripped the paint evenly instead of working better in the center and not as well on the edges. It’s frustrating to keep going over the edges to remove all the paint. It’s also easy to bake on some of the paint. When this happens, it looks black and I panicked thinking I had burnt the wood. I found that the baked on, blackened paint will then need to be sanded off which is additional work. Fortunately, these baked on paint areas are limited so it’s not necessary to sand all of the woodwork.
My final analysis is that this product works best on flat surfaces such as clapboard siding. On interior trim pieces I feel a chemical stripper performs better.