For the past few years, my wife and I have been remodeling our old house. This summer, I finally got around to the exterior paint. To remove 110 years of paint buildup, I tried all the conventional methods: hand scraping, pressure washing, wire brushes, sanders, heat guns, etc. Each one sort of worked (eventually), but they all had the same problem: too slow!
Then a neighbor offered me his Metabo paint remover. This wonder tool removed nearly all the old paint right down to the bare wood. It did a beautiful job, but the real miracle is that the section shown here only took 20 minutes to do! With those other methods, it would have taken half a day.
The tool is sort of a cross between a biscuit joiner, an angle grinder and a portable plane. The circular head has two small replaceable carbide bits about 3/4 in. square. The head diameter is about 3 in., and my siding reveal is about 4-1/2 in., so I had to work it up and down as I went down each board. It only takes one pass, and you do want to keep moving.
The head also has two blades on the sides that are perpendicular to the cutting surface. These remove paint from the bottom of the lap as you go. The tool also comes with a vacuum port, and I was able to hook it up directly to my shop vacuum and take care of a lot of the mess as I went.
Before you actually start scraping, there is a little bit of prep work to do. The carbide tips are not particularly happy when they meet nails, so go over each wall section first with a nail set. If you do hit a nail, the machine will either cut it off or rip the nail out of the wall…neither of which is a great idea. Be sure to adjust the depth of cut before you start. The Metabo is capable of removing a lot of wood if the depth is set incorrectly. As with all things, try it first on the back of the house! It can leave swirl marks or rough spots (especially as the blades dull), so if you are picky, you may need to go over everything again with an orbital sander. I like a little rougher look, so I just let it go.
Considering the time-savings, the Metabo paint remover is a bargain. Even my wife, who doesn’t usually encourage me to buy power tools, said, “We should just get one of those!”
— Ben Westby, Field Editor
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For help with the next step, repainting the house, check out these expert painting tips.