The Best And The Easiest Method On How To Remove Paint From Aluminum Ship
Your ship or boat’s paint has a lot to do with how beautiful it appears. Many people often tend to just cover up a bad or old paint job with more layers, but this can compromise the new, clean look you want to be going for.
With poor upkeep and preservation or many years of service, a ship’s paint may look dull, cracked, stained and just downright displeasing to the eyes. In order to actually restore it to a state like new, you will have to remove the old paint, prime, and repaint.
But because aluminum is a relatively delicate metal in nature, removing paint from the surface can seem challenging. Not only does it require strong chemicals, but you are also at risk of damaging the metal itself or spending heaps of money.
However, though it’s not going to be too easy or fun, removing paint from aluminum is possible with the help of the right tools, a few simple steps, and a little patience.
If you have no idea where to start and what to do in order to strip the aluminum hull of your ship or boat down to the shiny, gleaming, bare metal, this article is for you! Keep reading for more information, tips, and tricks!
What you need to follow this tutorial
As I have said, you need the right tools to get a job done correctly, efficiently, and quickly. So, here is a list of all the things you will need to help you remove paint from aluminum ship. Some of these will be used to actually remove the paint while some will protect you and your environment from chemical damage.
1. Heavy drop cloths, pieces of newspaper, or used cardboard
These will be used to cover everything that you want to protect from the chemical stripper such as the floor or ground on your driveway or garage as well as other furniture and things around your working space.
2. Protective Gear
Of course, you want to protect yourself just as much as you want to protect your things. So, grab protective gears for your hands like thick rubber gloves. The fumes of the chemicals that you will be using and exposing yourself to can also damage your eyes and lungs.
To prevent this, use a respirator or a dust or gas mask as well as laboratory goggles or other gear for eye protection. Tip: Wearing long sleeves or overalls will also protect your skin from contact with the chemicals.
3. Chemical paint stripper or an aircraft quality paint thinner or remover.
The high-quality paint thinner or remover can be bought from most auto or marine parts and supplies stores while the chemical paint stripper is also widely sold. Usually, these contain methylene chloride and work in dissolving the paint on aluminum to make its removal much easier for you. You can also buy these in gel or aerosol spray forms.
Make sure to buy something that is not corrosive or abrasive. A biodegradable formula is also more preferable for your safety and easier usage. These types also do not irritate your eyes and nose as much and can be removed with water.
If you can find any, you can choose a stripper specific for metal or aluminum. There are also formulas that can dissolve or remove oil-based or latex paint, epoxy, shellac, acrylics, polyurethane, enamel, lacquer, and varnish.
Choose something that caters to your specific needs and make sure that you get enough. Note also that depending on the number of layers and the type of paint used; you may have to reapply the chemical stripper several times even with a remover that can work on multiple paint layers at a time.
4. A can or pan made of metal or glass
This will serve as a container for the chemicals. The strength and harshness of these chemicals can severely damage, dissolve, or have an adverse chemical reaction with plastic.
5. Disposable paint or chip brushes
Disposable brushes are more practical and cheaper to be used for this purpose because paint thinner or stripper is hard to remove and wash off. It can also affect future painting jobs so it’s better to have something you can simply throw away afterwards.
6. Paint scraper or a grinder
These tools are very handy to use for easier clean up of thinned paint, especially on large, flat surfaces. Using this can save much of your precious time. Use the paint scraper, preferably one with a long handle, on relatively flatter surfaces.
The grinder and different sanding discs will make your work easier and cleaner on curved parts of the hull. Tip: Using different grits of flip discs will give different results from a rough to a shiny, smooth finish. It's best to have a few different grits on hand.
7. Dry rags
You will use rags for cleaning before you start, towards the end or afterwards. Use one to soak up spills, apply turpentine, or wipe off dust and debris on the aluminum piece you will be working on.
8. White spirits, turpentine, or acid wash
Small flakes or patches of stubborn leftover paint may be hard to remove. You can use turpentine, spirits, or acid wash to wipe them all off for a cleaner finish.
Water has a lot of uses, especially with a pressurized hose. It serves as a quick and cheap cleaning tool as well as a solvent to neutralize the chemical stripper in case you get some on your skin.
Step by step instructions on How to Remove Paint from Aluminum Ship
Once you have everything you need, you can then proceed to the tougher part. I suggest that you carefully read and understand all the steps first, so you’ll know what you will be dealing with and to give you a chance to plan ahead or use any additional tools that can further help you.
Step 1. Choose a work area.
Because the chemical fumes are a lot to handle, the best place to work is somewhere outdoors a little way away from your house, especially if you live with children.
If that is not an option for you, a large shed or garage or even an open driveway could work. Just make sure that there is ample ventilation.
Pro Tip: open all windows and doors to avoid inhaling or exposing yourself too much to the fumes.
Step 2. Preparing your work area.
To prepare your working space, start by covering the ground with thick, heavy drop cloths. Or, if you are on a budget and do not want to spend too much money on supplies, several layers of old newspaper or flattened cardboard boxes could work just as well.
Whatever material you end up using, make sure to leave no gaps between the pieces where the chemical may leak or seep through. These will protect the ground surface from corrosion and damage from the chemical stripper.
Step 3. Protect yourself.
Again, because I cannot stress this enough, do not use your bare hands to handle a chemical stripper or any strong chemicals for that matter. Use thick rubber gloves to protect the skin on your hands from irritation or chemical burn. Also, wear a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of thick pants or overalls to completely cover your skin.
Then, to avoid inhalation of the fumes, wear a respirator, a gas mask, or a dust mask. Do this even with the doors and windows open. The fumes and small debris can also get into your eyes, so wear protective goggles.
Tip: if your garage, tool shed, or workshop where you will be doing this has an exhaust, turn it on for the whole duration of this task as well as after finishing to disperse the fumes.
Step 4. Prepare your aluminum ship’s hull.
Before applying the chemical stripper, prepare the ship by spraying it with freshwater, drying it off and making sure to remove any stuff covering it aside from paint.
You can also use a pressure washer to remove the top coats or chipped off pieces of paint. Cover the whole area, going back and forth, and then let it dry. This will ensure that the stripper will work directly on the paint.
Step 5. Apply the chemical stripper or thinner.
Next, pour a little amount of the stripper into a metal or glass can or container. Then, with your disposable chip brush, apply the chemical stripper to the metal and allow it to set or work according to the included instructions in the packaging.
Different brands and types of formulas require different lengths of time to set and take effect. While it sets, you should begin to notice some bubbles coming from the metal’s surface.
Matt and Jessica from mjsailing.com found that through testing on a small patch first, you can know how accurate the time indicated in the instructions will be. For example, the aircraft paint remover they had said the paint will be ready to come off after 5 to 10 minutes but did not, even after three tries.
A simple tip from them: do not apply paint stripper under very hot weather. Wait until the temperatures have gone down a bit and then wait for a longer time after applying before you scrape it off. In their case, allowing the stripper to stay for 20 minutes did the trick.
Step 6. Scrubbing off the dissolved paint.
After the stripper has completely set, use a paint scraper or grinder to chip off or scrape the bubbled paint from all the wide, flatter surfaces of the metal. Then, use a nylon brush, a piece of sandpaper, or scouring pad to scrub the crevices and other areas that are hard to reach.
Pro Tip: you can also use the disposable brush that you used previously. Simply rinse it thoroughly and cut the bristles short.
Repeat the stripper application and brush, chip, or scrape away for as many times as you deem necessary or until the aluminum ship is as clean and paint-free as you want it to be.
In Matt and Jessica’s case, they used 100 grit flip discs to remove the remaining paint. Then, they followed it with 150 grit and 220 grit discs to add shine.
Step 7. Remove leftover paint.
Next, to remove any leftover paint residues, dampen a rag with turpentine or mineral spirits or an acid wash. Use this to wipe down all of the surfaces. Remaining flakes or chipped paint should be removed along with remaining chemicals. This also brightens the metal and evens out the surface.
Step 8. Finishing touches.
Then, rinse off the metal thoroughly with water. Tip: you can use a hose with or without pressure to more easily wash it away. This is to remove all traces of the chemical stripper and the spirits or acid wash. You can also use a car sponge, water, and some dish soap.
Next, wipe down the surface with a different dry rag to clean and dry it further. If you’re working on a big ship, simply allow it to dry for a few hours. The surface should be clean and shiny. Tip: now is the best time to brush on some weather-proofing sealant, a primer, a barrier coat, and new coats of paint.
If you wish to repaint your boat, check out this video:
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