Depending on the paint systems used and number of layers, there will be an optimum thickness of Peelaway for the easiest removal of the paint. It will not be detrimental to the efficacy to use a thicker layer than this, just less economical. The smoother the application of Peelaway, the greater the surface area in contact with the poultice. This means that the active ingredients have a greater area to penetrate and therefore will act more rapidly.
In short, it is still likely to work if applied unevenly and with air bubbles but may not be as fast and may be harder to remove.
The cover does not need to be sealed but it is advised to tape down the sides as this prevents the poultice from drying out, allowing it to continue penetrating the paint. If the poultice is being used outside, this also helps to protect it from wind and rain, preventing the poultice from being washed off.
The paste should not be allowed to dry out. It is only active when wet and may dry to a solid mass, which is difficult to remove. If this does happen, spraying a little water onto the poultice then re-covering it can help to soften it. The amount and duration of soaking required will depend on the thickness of Peelaway present.
The test patch should be checked periodically by lifting up with the spatula, to see how easily it lifts away and whether any paint remains on the substrate. When all layers of paint lift away easily, it is ready for removal. If it does not reach this point after 72 hours, the product is not suitable for the paint system or will require a second application to remove the remaining layers. If the layers have been applied over many decades, Peelaway 7 may be required first to remove the modern paints, followed by Peelaway 1 to remove much older paints at the bottom.
The ease of removal depends entirely on the type and number of paint layers as well as the bond which they have to the substrate. The best technique for removing the poultice is to gently ease the spatula underneath as many layers as possible, without removing the blanket. The blanket can then be pulled slowly back whilst assisting the poultice with the spatula. Under ideal conditions, the paint will peel away with the poultice. If the blanket is removed too quickly the poultice will be left behind. It is also essential that the poultice has not been allowed to dry out, as this will prevent it from lifting easily.
However, it should be noted that the role of the blanket is to prevent the Peelaway from drying out rather than to pull away the poultice and paint below.
For intricate areas it is still possible that some poultice may remain in crevices, but this is significantly less effort to remove than if the entire area had been treated with a liquid paint stripper. The residue should not be difficult to remove by brushing gently with a soft bristled brush and water – toothbrush style brushes can work well for small crevices.
The greatest difference in performance will be seen on very old paint systems. For example, in the late 19th and early 20th century, collagen-based resins were often used. These are significantly easier to remove with Peelaway 1 than Peelaway 7. However, Peelaway 1 is not as effective on more durable modern paint systems, where Peelaway 7 is recommended.
Sometimes both Peelaway products will work equally well. In this case, we would recommend using Peelaway 7 as it does not require a neutralisation process.
If treating paint which has been applied over many years, it may be necessary to follow up Peelaway 7 with Peelaway 1. This will allow the modern paints to be removed with Peelaway 7, followed by Peelaway 1 to remove the older paint.
Unfortunately neither Peelaway product is able to remove cement-based paint. These may require sandblasting to remove.
In warmer weather or hotter areas, for example conservatories, evaporation will be faster than usual. To avoid the poultice drying out, the Peelaway blanket can be taped down at the sides to reduce the chance of evaporation occurring. If the temperature is still high enough to dry out the poultice, it can be sprayed with water to moisten it before removal. However, if the test patch dries out despite the blanket being taped down, it would be advisable to wait until the weather has cooled sufficiently to avoid this.
The Peelaway systems are not designed to be used in wet weather, although the blankets are likely to repel light rain sufficiently, particularly if the edges are well taped down. However, anything more than gentle spitting will risk washing the active ingredients out of the poultice.
In some older buildings, weathering over the years can lead to bricks becoming friable. The changing seasons and moisture conditions can lead to salts leaching to the surface of the brick. If this happens below the paint it may not be visible until the paint is removed, leading to the crumblier material coming away with the poultice. Sometimes, the surface of bricks is rendered where this has happened to protect the remaining area.
The most important precaution is to make as little dust as possible to avoid inhaling any lead particles - the Peelaway system is designed with this in mind. Whilst the Peelaway is on the walls and covered by the blanket, dust should not be generated as the area will be damp. Applying masking tape to hold down the edges can help this. Providing it is kept moist, any lead compounds should be contained within the poultice, preventing them from creating a breathable dust. If any areas look to have dried out, they can be lightly sprayed with water before removal.
This will vastly reduce the risk of dangerous lead particles reaching the air but as a belt and braces approach, a dust mask can be worn too. In warmer weather it may be a sensible precaution to take as hot weather will cause the poultice to dry out more quickly.
Once removed, the Peelaway should be securely bagged to contain the lead.
For safety, children and pets should be kept away from the area being treated until the process is finished, as ingesting the paint could still cause harm.
Peelaway 7 will be suitable for removing most modern acrylic, polyurethane and linseed/tung oil-based paints from these materials. It should not affect the lime plaster below.
Peelaway 1 itself is suitable for use on calcareous materials such as the above. However, the Neutraliser is acidic so has the potential to damage them. As the Neutraliser evaporates reasonably quickly, the risk is reduced but could still alter the surface appearance – a trial should be conducted in an inconspicuous area and a visual impact assessment made. In some cases, Peelaway 1 may still be the best option if the surface is not going to be treated afterwards, or if an alkali-resistant product is to be used.
Peelaway 7 should be suitable for use on metal but Peelaway 1 may react with some metals, such as aluminium and zinc. In all cases, we would recommend trialling a small test patch first.
The Peelaway system would have a number of benefits over a pressure system.
Peelaway is a water and mineral-based poultice which will gently penetrate through the paint, allowing it to be lifted away from the surface. It allows the encapsulation and removal of any harmful paint ingredients without releasing them to the environment, such as lead-based pigments. As it is a poultice, the Peelaway system contains the paint removal system within the desired area, preventing unintentional application to the surrounding surfaces. The poultice formulation also minimises the depth of substrate penetration, with any moisture being localised to the surface. This avoids dampness and the issues which can be caused by excessive moisture.
Whilst pressure and steam washing with water achieve quick results, they can be detrimental to the substrate itself for a number of reasons. Excessive pressure can result in damage to the façade of the building but lower pressures may not remove the paint sufficiently. Any paint which is removed will be washed into the environment, unless captured. Dirt and micro-organisms on the surface can also be forced deeper, causing discolouration which cannot be removed. A public example of this is the Cenotaph at Whitehall, London.
This deep penetration of water also brings other problems. It can take some time for the substrate to fully dry out and if the environmental temperatures drop below freezing during this period, the expansion of water within the cavities can result in cracks. Additionally, as the substrate dries, it is liable to draw soluble minerals to the surface. This can result in efflorescence. Finally, although using water alone may appear to be an environmentally friendly option, the energy required to heat and pressurise the water must be considered.
Peelaway 1 would be the most suitable for removing hide glue. Care should also be taken if using it on antique veneers for this reason, as they are often held down with hide glue.
As hide glue can be softened by water, Peelaway 7 may also soften it but less efficiently. However, is also likely to cause problems with antique veneers.
We do sell a solvent-based paint stripper, Paint Panther, which may be a safer option in this scenario. In all cases, a test patch should be trialled first.
Peelaway 7 should be suitable.
Peelaway 1 is less likely to be effective.