Best Methods for Paint Stripping

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and has been creating automotive content online since 2017. He has been the lead writer for Chevy Trucks and has transformed it from the old and outdated site it was into what it is today. Jake creates a ton of GM related content for the 8020 Media YouTube channel and specializes in Duramax and Vortec information but has a wealth of knowledge across all GM cars and engines. Jake believes the L5P is the best diesel on the market today.

Paint Stripping, Comparing different methods of stripping paint:

  • Sand Blasting
  • Bead Blasting
  • Soda Blasting
  • Chemical Stripping

Sand Blasting

Sand blasting is the most conventional way of removing paint from a vehicle. You simply shoot sand at the paint, and it flakes off. The advantages are that it is fairly inexpensive (less than $10 for 80 lbs. of sand), fairly fast, and does not require very expensive equipment. You may purchase a decent sandblaster for less than $200. Also, it gets surface rust off very well.

The disadvantages are that it pits the metal (but is filled with primer), which can be a problem with thin metal, and it heats up the metal, again which can be a problem with thin metal because it can deform it and cause it to expand.

Bead Blasting

Bead blasting is similar to sand blasting, but it uses small plastic beads to “beat” the paint off. It does not pit metal like sand will, but it can cause more heat and does not get rust off very well.

Soda Blasting

Sodium bicarbonate blasting (soda blasting) is a non-hazardous, food-grade material that is an effective blast media for most industrial and commercial cleaning and coating removal applications.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be dissolved and washed down the drain once blasting is complete. If the material or coating removed contains contaminants, they can be removed with specifically designed treatment equipment.

Soda blasting is abrasive enough to remove coatings or process residue without the surface damage typically associated with other abrasive blasting media such as sand.

Soda blasting can replace solvent use and reduce hours of manual cleaning.

Chemical Stripping

Chemical stripping, once condemned for the dangerous chemicals that it included, has become much more enviromentally friendly in recent years. New formulas that are non-toxic and don’t smell nearly as bad have been on the market for several years now. The advantages to it are that it is fairly easy to do (simply spray or apply the stripper, wait, then scrape off), and it does a thorough job of removing paint.

The disadvantages are handling – it is still very corrosive and is quite painful if any of it gets on your hands or face. Also, it does not remove rust, is difficult to remove paint from nooks and crannies, and may not remove some primers.

Several chemical strippers are available, but they generally fall into two categories: liquids and pastes. The liquids are usually applied with a spray bottle, and the pastes are typically brushed on. Experience shows that pastes are usually more effective. To remove the paint, you simply wait about 5 minutes, then use a scraper or wire wheel to remove the paint. The paint should be soft, about like a piece of wet paper.

Caution is a must: you need to wear thick rubber gloves (no latex gloves or cloth gloves), a decent face mask (no dust masks – you need something with active charcoal), eye protection (glasses are okay, goggles are much better), and any other protection that you feel you need – arm and leg protection, face and hair protection, etc. Also, do not attempt to wipe your face with the gloves on. Paint stripper burns when it touches skin!

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