Stripping Paint From Ornamental Metal

Technical Procedures Disclaimer

Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.


We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.

Projects involving paint removal are subject to state and federal laws on lead paint abatement, disposal and use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Specified products may not be permitted or appropriate for all locations. Products containing chemicals known to present health or environmental hazards should be used only as a last resort, where permissable, in accordance with manufacturer’s directions and government requirements. Test milder formulations for effectiveness before proceeding to stronger alternatives.

Part 1—General

1.01 Summary

A. This procedure includes guidance on chemically cleaning and stripping paint from ornamental metal surfaces. See also 05010-05-R, 05010-17-R and 05010-18-R for additional guidance on removing paint from metal.

B. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:

  1. Safety Precautions
  2. Historic Structures Precautions
  3. Submittals
  4. Quality Assurance
  5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
  6. Project/Site Conditions
  7. Sequencing and Scheduling
  8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).

1.02 Quality Assurance

A. Mock-ups: Demonstrate materials and methods to be used for cleaning, paint stripping, and polishing for each type of ornamental metal surface and condition on sample panels of approximately 9 square feet in area. Test adjacent non-metallic materials for possible reaction with cleaning and paint stripping materials.

1.03 Project/Site Conditions

A. Protect surrounding surfaces of building from damage resulting from ornamental metal restoration work.

B. Prevent chemical cleaning and paint stripping solutions from coming into contact with other surfaces which could be inured by such contact.

C. Dispose of by-products from cleaning and paint stripping operations in accordance with applicable regulations, in manner which prevents damage to other surfaces.

Part 2—Products

2.01 Manufacturers

A. ProSoCo, Inc., 755 Minnesota Avenue P.O. Box 1578 Kansas City, KS 66117, 800-255-4255 or 913-281-2700

B. Savogran Company, 800-225-9872 or 617-762-5400

C. Diedrich Technologies, Inc.

D. Star Bronze Co., P.O. Box 2206 Alliance, OH 44601, 216-823-1550

2.02 Materials

A. Chemical Paint Stripper: Thixotropic/alkaline formulation for removing paint coatings from ornamental metal work, such as “Sure Klean Fast Acting Stripper,” (ProSoCo, Inc.), or approved equal. Note: Contains Methylene Chloride. Potential substitutes (with case-specific research and on-site testing to verify applicablityand effectiveness) include “Envirestrip” (Diedrich Technologies), “EnviroKlean Safety Peel 1” (Prosoco, Inc), “Zip Strip 2” (Star Bronze Co.) and “Biodegradable Stripeeze” (Savogran Co.).

B. Liquid Strippable Masking Agent: Liquid, film forming, strippable masking material for protecting glass, and polished stone surfaces from damaging effect of acidic and alkaline cleaners, such as “Sure Klean Acid Stop,” (ProSoCo, Inc.), or approved equal.

C. Water for Cleaning: Clean, potable, free of oils, acids, alkalis, salts, and organic matter.

D. Cleaning Pads: No. 4/0 fine steel wool or synthetic pads.

2.03 Equipment

A. Brushes: Fiber bristle only.

Part 3—Execution

3.01 Preparation

A. Protection

  1. Comply with recommendations of manufacturers of chemical cleaners and paint removers for protecting building surfaces from exposure to their products.
  2. Protect glass, unpainted metal trim and polished stone from contact with acidic chemical cleaners by covering them with liquid strippable masking agent or polyethylene film and waterproof masking tape. Apply masking agent to comply with manufacturer’s recommendations. Do not apply liquid masking agent to adjacent painted or porous surfaces, use waterproof masking tape.
  3. Protect unpainted metal from contact with alkali chemical cleaners by covering them either with liquid strippable masking agent or polyethylene film and waterproof masking tape.
  4. Remove cellophane tape, masking tape, etc., from ornamental metal surface prior to cleaning.

3.02 Erection, Installation, Application

A. Brush all peeling and loose paint from surface using a stiff natural bristle brush. Do not use wire brushes.

B. Apply chemical paint stripper to painted surfaces with brushes.

C. Allow stripper to remain on surface for period recommended by paint stripper manufacturer.

D. Remove chemical and paint residue by sponge, cloth, or brush rinsing with water.

E. Repeat process as required to produce desired effect.

F. Wipe surface completely dry with clean soft cloths.

G. Prime all metal within two hours of stripping and cleaning. See 05700-02-R for guidance on cleaning ornamental metal. See 05010-13-S for information on paints and primers for use on metal.