Purple primer is a popular choice among plumbers who use it to prep PVC pipes for gluing. The primer will clean the surface of the plastic pipe and fittings to help make the glue stick properly prior to assembling.
Although the clear primer is available, plumbers prefer to use purple solvent to ensure that inspectors see that the primer was used according to the current code.
However, one issue with purple primer is if it spills, it can be difficult to clean up without the right supplies. And since some spillage is likely to occur even with the most careful use of the primer, you should be prepared for the cleanup or tell the plumber only to use clear primer when doing repairs or pipe installation in your residence.
The Problem with PVC Primer
The main issue with PVC primer is that the two most common solvents (methyl ethyl ketone and acetone) found in the material will melt the plastic.
And while both solvents will evaporate quickly when exposed to the air, they will change the plastic surface’s structure, causing the purple dye to become part of the plastic or vinyl flooring.
If you act quickly after the spill, it is possible to clean it up before any change or color addition occurs. However, once the solvent has evaporated, removing the added purple color becomes more difficult.
Apart from scraping, grinding, or sanding, which will damage the surface, you will need to use a clear solvent to soften the area so the color can be removed.
Removing the Purple PVC Primer
Unfortunately, spilled purple PVC primer is not that uncommon. Perhaps the plumber or a helpful neighbor accidentally spilled some when trying to fix your pipes.
If that’s the case, cleaning the purple PVC primer on a vinyl floor is a big deal. Because it is primarily designed to etch or meld with the plastic in the pipes, it does the same thing to vinyl flooring.
But worry not; all is not lost. There are still ways to remove the purple primer and restore your vinyl flooring if you act in time.
Clear Primer or Cleaner
One of the most effective methods is to dab a little clear primer or PVC pipe cleaner designed to clean pipes for priming. The key is not to wipe, as this will pull up the flooring. Plus, if you pour or douse the area with the clear primer, you will put a hole in the floor.
Instead, dampen a cotton ball or swab with the primer and dab it gently. This will pull up a small amount of the purple primer every time you dab. Unless the purple primer has already penetrated the surface, you should be able to get most of it up.
But that is not the only material that can pull up the purple primer and not damage the floor when used correctly.
Other solvents that can be helpful include methyl ethyl ketone and acetone or simple nail polish that includes acetone. Use these solvents in the same manner as you would the clear primer or cleaner.
You might also try using products such as paint thinner, mineral spirits, or baking soda combined with water. But you will have to rub harder to get them to work. Maybe they work if all fails.
Preventing Purple PVC Primer Spills
The best way to prevent spills of purple PVC primer in the first place is to ensure that your plumber or the individual working on the pipes pays close attention to what they are doing.
If possible, do all the work outside, as the ventilation is much better and lessens your chances of having a spill on surfaces that you do not want to damage.
If you are having plumbing work done inside, it is best to cover the floors and other surfaces with heavy plastic or tarps to protect the surface from any potential spills of primer or other supplies.
In addition, it helps to ensure that all lids and caps are securely screwed on and that all containers, bags, and buckets are firmly closed.
Aside from that, you can also opt for clear primer when conducting repairs or installations. Clear primer works just as well but won’t leave any residue on the floor.
Lastly, make sure to keep an eye out for any spills that do occur and clean them up as quickly as possible. If you wait too long, the solvent will have time to evaporate and create a bond with the plastic surface, making it much more difficult (if not impossible) to remove later.
The Bottom Line
Spills of purple PVC primer on vinyl flooring are not very common, but if that happens, it can be challenging to remove. With some patience, the right cleaning supplies, and a gentle hand, it is possible to remove the primer without damaging the floor. Just remember to act quickly and blot up any spills right away.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.