There are a lot of ways that you can remove paint. Some ways are better than others.
One extreme way to remove paint is by using a propane torch.
As the high-temperature flame comes out of the torch, the intense heat causes the paint to soften.
Then you can easily scrape away the paint.
However, an important thing to note here is that the heat also softens the surface underneath the paint as well.
And if the surface is made from flammable material, such as wood, then a fire could easily break out.
That is why it is better only to use a torch for paint removal if the material underneath the surface is non-flammable.
Painted metal (that you intend to remove paint from) is the best material to have underneath your paint because it can withstand the intense flames of a blowtorch.
If the surface you are working on is flammable (like wood) it’s better to use alternatives like a heat gun or a hairdryer.
How to Use A Torch for Removing Old Paint Off?
If you’re ready to get started with the torch paint removal process, gather the necessary tools and materials first.
They include the blowtorch, wire brush, paint scraper, medium-grit sandpaper, and lacquer thinner.
Below are the six steps for using a propane torch to remove paint from a nonflammable surface safely.
Step # 1
Light the torch.
Maintain a distance of at least six inches from the metal plate or pipe surface to burn old paint off the metal.
Gently move the flame around the pipe area or along the surface continuously.
Do not keep the flame in one area because it could cause overheating.
Step # 2
Once you see the paint blister, turn off the flame.
Take the scraper tool and scrape away the paint that has now softened.
You must be quick because the paint will turn hard fast.
Step # 3
Heat a different area of the surface once you’ve scraped off the paint from the first area.
Keep repeating this pattern until you get to the other end of the surface.
Step # 4
If you’ve scraped away all the paint possible, then go back to the beginning again.
If any area of the surface has paint remaining, then apply the torch to heat it again.
Repeat the process by softening the paint and scraping it away until there is no paint left anywhere.
Use a wire brush if some of the paint does not scrape off with the other tool.
Step # 5
Wait a couple of minutes for the surface to cool down.
Take the wire brush and soak its bristles in the lacquer-thinner solvent.
Use the bristles to brush off the residue that remains. Be careful of the solvents because they are flammable.
That is why the surface must be cool before you start applying the brush and lacquer.
Step # 6
Grab your medium-grit sandpaper and sand the surface manually.
Any residue that still remains should get taken off easily by the sandpaper.
If the paint gets removed completely, then you can start painting the surface.
What are the Few Other Uses of Propane Torch?
A propane torch or a blow torch is a fuel-burning tool typically used for applying flame and heat to various applications (usually metalworking).
These gas-fuelled devices can use gases like propane, hydrocarbon gas, or others for the application of flame or heat.
Although most people use their propane torches for soldering work, there are several other applications (like removing paint) where that can be useful.
So, before you put the propane torch away in storage, consider the other uses that this device offers.
1- Create a Trellis
By using the same technique to solder pipes, you can produce attractive structures such as trellis.
Many lawns and gardens have trellises in place and creating one is simple if you have the right supplies and your torch handy.
All you need is the following.
- Copper piping
You put together the trellis in any fashion you desire.
Once completed, simply solder the connections so they stay in place.
Keep in mind that if you make mistakes, you will be covered by the flowers, plants, and vines that will grow on the trellis.
2- Distress Surfaces
If you want to give metal or wood surfaces an aged appearance, then run the torch over them for a few seconds.
From metal surfaces on a wide variety of objects to wooden furniture, you can create that unique appearance of aging which creates that vintage feel.
Just remember that it only takes a couple of seconds for the surface to be altered, so do not hold the torch in one place.
When torching wood, keep it moving lightly across the surface until you see the desired burnt and rustic look.
3- Loosens Nuts & Bolts
Nuts and bolts, particularly on automotive parts or when exposed to the outside elements can become quite sticky and difficult to remove.
This is normally because of the buildup of rust.
The heat from a torch can loosen the nut or bolt by expanding the metal itself which in turn breaks free of the rust.
Just apply the torch long enough to heat the nut or bolt and then use a wrench to turn it.
Just be sure there are no flammable liquids such as leaking gas around when you apply the heat. Also, wear gloves to protect your hands.
4- Repair Driveways
Your torch can come in handy in two ways when repairing your driveway.
First, it can burn away the weeds that are growing in the cracks.
Simply run the torch along the cracks to get rid of any weeds that are growing. Be sure not to burn any grass, plants, or flowers that are nearby.
Once you have gotten rid of the weeds, you can now seal the cracks using joint fillers that are designed to be melted by heat.
These joint fillers are usually inexpensive and easy to apply.
Just clean out any debris that is present, put in the filler, then run your torch across it as directed.
Now the crack has been fully sealed.
5- Singe Ends of Nylon Rope
It can be annoying to cut a nylon rope only to see the ends start to fall apart.
One method of keeping the ends together is to singe them with your torch.
Since nylon can melt, you can run the torch over the end of the rope to singe the individual pieces until they lock together.
You can also use this for landscape fabric as you cut holes that allow plants to grow.
Simply singe the edges with your torch and it will stay in place.
In addition to all the above, there are a few other ways you can use your hand-held torch as well, such as the following.
- Heat locks that are frozen shut
- Shape jewelry for necklaces, bracelets, or rings
- Cook steaks (sliced tuna, salmon, etc) to perfection
Your propane torch is a useful tool once you know how to handle it.
Just be sure to follow the proper safety precautions which include wearing eye protection, gloves, a mask, and the appropriate clothing.
The Bottom Line
Using a propane gas torch for paint stripping is one of the most efficient ways by which professionals remove paints (stains, varnishes, caulk, epoxies, resins, etc).
The good thing is it can bubble out paint from varied surfaces regardless of where you are working – at home or in industries.
Whenever you’re using a torch with wood or other flammable materials, it is best to do the work outside with a hose nearby.
That way, if anything catches on fire, you can run to the hose and extinguish the fire by spraying it with water.
Check with your local fire authorities to see if you need a permit to do this kind of work in your area.
There might be laws against civilians using torches to remove paint from flammable material, especially if it might have lead in it.
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.