What you’ll need:
1x Pair of fabric gloves - plastic gloves will melt to your skin if they come in contact with a heat gun!
1x Heat gun
1x Long Handle 150mm Scraper
1x Linbide 180mm General Scraper
2x Drop cloths
1x Dust Mask
Protective eyewear or your own normal glasses
1x disposable coveralls
No rain due to extension cables
When we bought our home, we knew eventually we’d repaint the exterior. We had reputable painters come and examine the exterior to give us quotes.
Costs to strip our 45ms2 one storey, square home and repaint the exterior inclusive of all equipment:
We decided (after talking to Adams parents who both have amazing renovation knowledge) we would attempt to strip and paint the house ourselves over our summer break and potentially save $20,000 which we would then use to renovate the bathroom/kitchen or - maybe we’d even treat ourselves and go on a holiday! …Although more realistically, we would save that money for a second property, why? Because as much #FOMO as we got watching our peers go on holiday and party at festivals - we’re very aware of how hard it currently is, and how much harder it will become to own land and property.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Typically, the property market goes up 10% every year on average, salaries go up by 1%. In 2015, house prices were up 24% in that year alone according to QV House Price Index. But hey - if you’re reading this blog you probably already have your own home - CONGRATULATIONS - and if you aren’t yet a homeowner, I’ll follow-up this blog with reasons as to why you should start thinking about it and why we got on the ladder in such a hurry.
Right, back to stripping. We collected up all the gear we needed before we could begin, primarily from Resene and what they didn’t have we found at our local Bunnings. At first, I was very against using a heat gun to strip the house because I thought, “Surely there’s an easier way” - the paint on our house was already flaking off and I thought even water-blasting would probably take it right off - haha how wrong I was.
Whilst we were at our local Resene Colour shop in Kilbirnie, Renee (Paint shop assistant manager who I can’t recommend ENOUGH!!) Said although using a heat gun was the most preferred option, we could always try “Coating Remover” which is an environmentally friendly chemical based paint stripper. I had high hopes.
All we had to do was paint the Chemical Stripper on, wait the allocated time and then scrape it off - let me tell you now it’s not worth investigating this route. The stripper worked okay on the first layer of paint, but because our house probably wasn’t ever stripped in its lifetime, there were simply too many layers of paint for the product to get down through and work at full capacity. Back to the drawing board.
Photo above: Windows after using Chemical Stripper - worked best on metal but not the paint.
We couldn’t fully sand the house because there too many layers of paint and this would bog up the sander - plus because we have an older home (1960’s build) some of the paint was lead-based, meaning that if we had been able to sand the paint off we would still be breathing in unnecessary amounts of lead.
Heat gun it was! And you know what? It wasn’t even as bad as I thought it would be. If you’ve used a hairdryer before, it’s very similar. Granted, we did it during the middle of summer which wasn’t ideal due to the heat, so every morning we got up around 5am ready to start stripping by 6:30am before the 30degree heat got us.
HOW TO STRIP YOUR HOUSE USING A HEATGUN:
First things first, set up your drop cloths. I recommend fabric over plastic because as you get lower down, if the heat gun touches the plastic it just melts right off the bat AND if you’re in an even slightly windy city (sadly wellington’s the windiest in the world) the plastic lifts. If you do decide to use plastic because they’re cheaper, I would use masking tape and tape the plastic down as well as use weights to keep it from blowing everywhere. We used the Resene fabric drop cloths and they worked a charm!
SAFETY WHEN STRIPPING A HOUSE:
Ensure you’re wearing a dust mask, coveralls, protective eyewear and gloves. The paint is VERY hot when it falls off and can even melt your coveralls, as well as being sharp and itchy if you end up sitting down to scrape lower sections - you’ll be grateful for the coveralls TRUST ME! If there is more than one of you scraping the same wall, wear a hat and cover your body as much as you can to avoid any burns from falling paint.
Using a heat gun on the highest setting, you hold the heat gun in your left hand (if you’re a righty) about 1-2 inches away from the paint, facing AWAY from your other hand which will be using the 150mm wide scraper, move the heat gun in small circular motions until you see the paint start to bubble. Do not hold the heat gun still in one place for too long or you will risk burning the paint and wood underneath. Then, using your scraping-hand, you scrape the paint off where it has bubbled and simultaneously move your heat gun down the line - onto the next part of the paint that you’ll be stripping.
HOT TIP (haha): The reason I recommend using your dominant hand to scrape is because if you use your less-coordinated hand, there’s a higher chance of a cross-over motion and burning yourself by letting the heat gun touch your hand - Adam and I have matching scars from this mistake.
This technique is what you’ll need to use for your entire weatherboard face. For the underside of the weatherboard we used the small Linbide 180mm Scraper and literally just PULLED the paint off in a massive sweeping motion. This worked quite well due to the fact that the surrounding weatherboard faces had been removed, so the paint was already compromised at the top and bottom.
When stripping near windows, be careful not to have the heat gun too close to the glass or it can easily crack from the heat. If you’re stripping areas higher up ensure you follow correct safety protocol when using ladders and scaffolding.
THE TIME IT TAKES TO STRIP A HOUSE:
So far we’ve only stripped two sides of the house, including the porch and alcove area - remembering our house is only 45ms2.
We spent 5 days stripping the house just Adam and I, averaging about 4 hours per day
= 40 hours for one person.
Then we flew up and old amigo of mine, Jordan who I ADORE and love so much - who graciously accepted us paying for his flights in exchange for manual labour (which I FULLY recommend doing!) and with the three of us stripping we spent two days, averaging on about 5 hours with the three of us working and got the job DONE!
Total time: 7 hours
= 21 per person
So in summary, if one person had stripped half of our home, it would be about 60 hours of labour. But if you can wrangle two friends, you cut that down to 20 hours each, which could mean finishing in one working week if you worked on your home for half a day, five days in a row. It can be done. You might be idealistic thinking you can strip 10 hours a day - but be warned, the heat gets to you after a while and pretty soon your back, arms, legs - everything eventually cramps up, so I’d recommend planning on only a few hours each day so that you don’t have a mental breakdown.
I hope this inspired some of you reading to try doing more renovations yourself, it always seems harder than it actually is and the biggest factor involved is usually just time.
Be safe and good luck!