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Expert's Corner — paint thinner

TIP: Wash Off Stripper Wax

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Directions on cans of paint-and-varnish remover instruct to “neutralize” the stripper as a final step. This is misleading and often leads to finishing problems. The instruction is misleading because there is nothing in paint strippers that needs to be neutralized. “Neutralizing” refers to acids and bases, not solvents. What needs to be done with all paint strippers sold in metal cans is remove the wax they contain. Manufacturers add wax to these products to retard evaporation so the stripper remains in contact with the paint or finish longer. This wax will retard the drying and weaken the bonding of most...

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TIP: Dry Off NMP Residue

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Paint and varnish removers sold in plastic containers contain the solvent n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP) as the active ingredient. This solvent is relatively expensive, so manufacturers often mix in other solvents to reduce the cost. But it’s the NMP that does the majority of the work. NMP has less solvent strength than the methylene chloride and the other solvents used in strippers sold in cans. Just the packaging, plastic vs. metal, tells you this. The reason NMP is still effective is that it evaporates extremely slowly, so it can remain wet on the paint or finish for days if necessary. I...

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TIP: Freeze Candle Wax Drips to Remove

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The easy way to remove candle wax that has dripped onto a finished surface is to freeze it by holding an ice cube on it for about 10 seconds. Once frozen, the wax is easy to pick off the finish without causing any damage. If a little wax residue remains and you can’t pick it off, dissolve it with mineral spirits (paint thinner) or a clear furniture polish and wipe away the residue with a cloth. Be aware that red candle wax can stain a light finish. There’s no easy way to remove this stain, but it will fade in...

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