Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Silent Paint Remover

Two Christmases ago, I asked Santa for a new toy:  a Silent Paint Remover.

It's an infrared lamp that heats up old paint allowing it to be scraped off.  I have a
lot of old doors and trim and although it's a pretty expensive toy, I thought it would
be a good investment especially since it was on Santa's dime. 

I decided to start with the salvaged door I bought for the bathroom.  I had already
taken off the little lock and stripped it so it's all set to go back on the finished door.

The lamp gets really hot so I set myself up on the back porch where
I could set the lamp down on the old mill stone table.  I don't know what
the manufacturer recommends doing with the hot lamp.  I put the instructions
in a safe place and as soon as I can remember where that is, I'll let you know.

The tool with the red handle is a three-sided scraper that comes with the kit.

You hold the lamp up to the painted surface and in 20 to 60 seconds, the
paint bubbles up.  It does emit some smoke so I'd probably work outside if at
all possible.  If you had to work indoors you could certainly set a good
ventilation system with a few fans directing the smoke to and out a window.

Once the paint bubbles up, you just scrape it off.  I counted five layers
of paint in this side of the door and the majority of it came off with one scrape...

...right to the bare wood for the most part.
You can reheat an area if all the paint doesn't come off but you
do risk scorching the bare wood.  You can see a little scorched area on
this panel but I think it's pretty superficial and it should sand out.

You can also see I had a little trouble with the panel moldings.  The basic
kit only comes with a straight edged scraper so I didn't really have a good
tool to get into the curves.  The company does sell curved and oval
scrapers and I'll probably buy a few to see if those help.

Initially, I wasn't sure what to do with the paint scrapings.
I have to assume that there's lead in any paint in my house and
I wanted to properly dispose of the waste.  We have a pretty good recycling
system so I contacted the city to explain what I was doing and
they said that I could bag up the shavings and bring them in to the recycling
center on one of the hazardous waste days.  Perfect!  So I put
down a plastic tarp so I could easily gather them up. 

This side of the door took about two hours' work which
I think is pretty fast.  With more practice and better scrapers, I'm
sure I'll get better it.  And it's definitely faster than using chemical strippers.
And a lot less mess.  Its $395 price tag isn't for the faint of wallet
but the only local salvage place that still does chemical
dipping and stripping charges $100 to strip a door so
it should pay off in the end.

I just don't think there's any easy way to tackle this job
but if you have a lot of stripping that doesn't involve detailed
carvings, and you have some way of safely disposing of the shavings,
I would recommend the Silent Paint Remover.


  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I have a lot of old doors that are in need of stripping. Seems like it did the job!
    Thanks for sharing,

  2. This is an interesting piece of equipment which I have not seen in England. I used a small blowtorch type item to remove paint and it also scroched if you applied too much pressure or fire. Your door looks great!

  3. Hi just wanted to let you know that you probably can find a manual here We have used it for the windows and doors at our old house in Norway (dated 1921), and can recommend it a lot. You do need extra scrapers for the details, but it is well worth the expence.
    Thanks for all your posts at the blog btw, you are a true inspiration for us :)

  4. I was wondering how effective these things were? I have stripped and scraped so many things...this sounds like it is well worth the investment! By the way I don't mind the scorched spots...just adds character! Glad you received the book...I have my own now thanks to Beau!

  5. I really enjoy your blog . Love your home and sense of humor!

  6. I had not even heard of these, steve. jay used to have one of those heat guns to strip with. once when he was stripping columns on the front of our house, his hand slipped and he caught himself in the mouth with the darn thing. burn.

    I don't think he's used one since. donna

  7. I have a heat gun that I have used for stripping before. Is there a significant advantage, beyond silence, to this tool? I also used a narrow putty knife to get in nooks and crannies.

    1. Kerry
      According to their propaganda, it heats up to 300 degrees whereas a heat gun heats to something like 1000 degrees so there's less emission of dangerous gases and risk of fire.

  8. I want one! I can't imagine how much time (and chemicals) that could have saved me over the years...

  9. intrigued......never heard of this toy. do get those curved attachments steve, need to know how those work!

  10. Awesome! I stripped all the doors and walls and moldings in our old house with a good old Milwaukee heat gun ... actually three heat guns because I killed one, dropped the second one, and am using my third one. It's the cheapest one they make, because that was the lightest one. I have been known to use it for hours at a time, so I figured lightweight (and light on the price) was a good thing.

    My best advice for curved moldings is to get yourself a melon baller ... the kind with two sizes on the same tool and a substantial handle. You can angle the rounded end of the thing to fit a wide range of curves, and they're cheap!

    The rest of the flat portions of your door can be stripped with a heat gun, used just long enough to warm the paint instead of bubbling it, and a carbide pull scraper. (My favorite is the orange handled one by Bahco.) Heat gun and melon baller on the curved parts.

    1. A melon baller is a great idea! Thank you for that. I also have a heat gun that I'll try on some of casings in the house. It would be great to be able to compare the two methods.

  11. Wow! You must have been an extra good boy for Santa to bring you such a cool toy!

  12. I love the way it looks now with the paint off. I'd have a hard time painting it again but I know you have a plan and it will be beautiful.

  13. Without having read all the other comments, I'd just like to caution anyone using one of these tools to be really careful of the scrapings and the fumes ... if you are bubbling up lead paint, the fumes have lead in them. Really good ventilation is a must. The other issue is to be really careful of any dust produced when you do your final sanding ... those little bits of lead-based dust can collect along baseboards or between floor boards and be a hazard to young children who are at the crawl on the floor/play on the floor stage. Not to be alarmist, but we learned the hard way ... our son had a period of elevated lead levels when we were young parents/renovators ... no long term effects thank goodness, but it was a bit alarming.

  14. What an awesome new toy! All of those doors, so little time. Although the lead paint issue is a bit alarming. Best do it while there are no children in the house!

  15. Lead paint is scary but read how to be safe at It's not rocket science but definitely keep your kids and pets away while you strip.
    Previous Anonymous' comment about how to get a Manual is wrong. refers to a different infrared paint remover, the Speedheater. That one is UL-certified and the original one from which the Silent Paint Remover was copied in 2006. They look alike but the "Heater 1100" embossed in the metal ends of your Silent Paint Remover (instead of "Speedheater 1100) means it is the copy. Right now the Speedheater Kit from Eco-Strip in the US is on sale. You would have been able to strip the door's panel molding easily with the second scraper included in the $410 Speedheater Kit. Too bad. The $15 less you paid cheated you out of the extra tool you needed.

  16. Man you are dedicated! This is a cool tool! What color will the door be? Im wanting black doors in my house. Of course that will never happen ;-)

  17. You must be a Zen paint stripper - two hours would have me suddenly thinking repainting was a Very Good Idea! Still, the result is well worth it, I take off my hat to you...

  18. Hi Steve,
    Looks like a great tool! Do you know if it's safe for stripping siding? (Safe, in the sense of not igniting insulation in the wall cavity...)
    I'm wondering if you have discovered John Leeke, who specializes in historic building preservation and has a wonderful website & excellent publications on a variety of helpful topics. His website is: He's also a really nice guy!
    I love seeing what you're up to! Thanks for taking the time to post your projects.
    Cheers, Ruth

  19. That is the coolest tool I have ever seen! Never heard of that! Love your door.
    Youre doing great things at that urban cottage!!!!!!!
    xo Nancy

  20. Wow! I'm impressed. I could have used something like that on my garage door, which I spent DAYS sanding!!

  21. What a fun tool-we may need one whenever we finally get to Cali and find some relic of a cottage to restore :)

    Are you tiling soon?

  22. You know I remember when you got this...pretty impressive. I'm sure I could put one of those to good use.

  23. Silent. I like that. Then, all the screaming and swearing will just come from me. No more competing with the stripper. Ingenious.

  24. What a very impressive toy. Something I could have used TWO YEARS AGO...but that's neither here nor there....Hey I'm going to buy one for the husband so he can finish some trim out front.....;) Thanks for the tip!


  25. Might as well just hand me a gun, trouble ahead, trouble behind.

    I'm trying to figure out what side of a hammer to hold.

    But I know what to do with a Dutch hoe!

    xo J.

  26. Boy.. that makes life a little easier....I want one!

  27. if you cant get the recessed trim cleaned you could repaint that part and leave the rest of the door natural

    john in nc

  28. Brilliant. I think that's a small price to pay for such a slick gizmo. What impresses me most is that you have the energy to do this. :)

    xo Terri

  29. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who puts Important Things in Safe Places!

  30. I learn so much from you.
    -Suzanne in Illinois

  31. Oh wow that's a great recommendation. I shall have to beg and whine for one now.

  32. Catching up with the goings on at your house. I love the silent paint remover! Will have to look into that also if I ever get enough work for it to justify it.

  33. I am all scared of lead's always something. That is a handy tool you got there..but we all know you have "some kind of patience" when it comes to task like that:)