Using Exterior Paint Preparation Tools

Investing in top quality exterior paint preparation tools is one of the most important investments you can make as you participate in more projects. Professional quality tools not only save you time but save you considerable effort when compared to the cheaper alternative. Good tools help guarantee great painting projects. Using cheap tools leads to endless hours of frustration. If you use quality tools and take care of them properly they will last a lifetime.

Here are the primary tools you will use for an exterior paint project.


Having a good paint scraping tool pays for itself. Scraping paint is an important first step in the preparation process. The different paint scraping tools perform many tasks, such as removing paint, as well as other older materials. You want to choose the most appropriate paint scraper for the projects at hand. There are many types of paint scrapers, from the classic putty knife to the 11 in 1 multipurpose tool to the double edge wood scraper.
A clasic putty knife from Hyde Tools.
Classic Putty Knife – The classic putty knife is a good choice for a multipurpose paint removing tool. The variety of putty knives is amazing. These tools can range from one with a stiff blade similar to a chisel or a flexible blade comparable to a spatula.

The stiff blades can be resharpened and used over many times. They are very effective at removing loose or peeling paint. The flexible knifes are best when applying spackling paste or putty.
A multipurpose 6-in-1 painters tool from Hyde Tools.
Multipurpose Tools – This is the most useful scraping knife of the painting world. The 11 in 1 tool is capable of performing many tasks beyond removing loose paint. The 11 in 1 tool can be a paint scraper, spreader, gouger, hammer, rake, opener, putty remover, and paint roller cleaner, nail setter, nail puller and a screw driver and just about any other function you can think of.

With so many possible uses, this tool is an excellent choice. There are many different styles and manufacturers, but they all perform the same or similar functions. There is also the classic 5-way that is also considered a paint scraper, just a few less bells and whistles.
A Hyde Tools double edge paint scraper.
Double Edge Paint Scraper – A double edge paint scraper will last for years and is worthy of any toolbox. These tools are not very expensive, and the replacement blades are sold everywhere. They are also available in different sizes and profiles. Most types have a U shaped blade held in place with a bolt or screw.

Most double edged scrapers are used by pulling the blade across the painted surface. This can take considerable effort so having a long curved and comfortable handle will go a long way to making this a more enjoyable experience.

All of these scrapers do a great job at removing peeling paint from many surfaces and profiles. You have many hours of scraping ahead of you, so make sure you choose a tool that is comfortable to use.

Heat Guns

A heat gun by Wagner.
A heat gun comes in handy for tougher paint removal preparation projects. You can use a heat gun paint remover to loosen thicker paint. You want to make sure you keep the heat gun moving to avoid excessive heat buildup. As paint softens, scrape it loose with a putty knife.

When using a heat gun to remove old coatings, such as paint and varnish, exercise special care. It will keep you safe. Make sure and place a drop cloth on the ground under the work area. Also, make sure you keep the drop cloth damp by occasionally misting it with a garden hose. Make sure to also lightly spray the area of the building where you are removing the paint. Once the paint comes free, place the hot, softened coating into a metal container for disposal.

The use of a heat gun can be dangerous, especially when working on older homes with lead-based paint. The heat gun will give off fumes that could contain lead. Using a heat gun on a home with lead-based paint isn’t permitted according to the EPA RRP rules.

Make sure to wear safety goggles, heat resistant gloves, a long sleeved shirt and long pants to protect your skin from burns. There is one last protective item you should consider. Protect your lungs with a respirator designed for use with heat gun paint removal. Hot paint can release irritating fumes.

Infrared Paint Strippers

The Silent Paint Remover infrared paint stripper.
Traditional methods of paint removal (chemicals and heat gun) can introduce fire hazards, permanent damage to the underlying wood and environmental contamination. Infrared heat as a removal technique is a new technology that is growing in preference for ecological reasons. The technology was developed in Sweden in the late 1980’s as a safer and more eco-friendly method to removing paint.

Infrared Paint removers use mid-range infrared heat waves to heat both the wood and the paint at a lower temperature. This greatly reduces the hazards of removing lead-based paint. An infrared paint stripper can radiate heat between 380 and 580 degrees. Because it does not blow heat into the cracks in the surface, as a heat gun does, your risk of fire is greatly reduced.

Additionally, the waste byproducts of the process can be easily gathered at the end of day. There is no risk you will spill chemicals onto the property. Infrared paint strippers used in combination with a chisel easily remove window putty as if it were butter.

Finally, using the infrared heat removal method can be the gentlest on wood. The infrared heat gets into the wood and pulls up some of the natural resins deep in the wood. This helps to rejuvenate it.

Power Sanders and Paint Sanders

Wagner PaintEater-A specialized paint sander designed specifically for house paint removal.
There are many types on the market and all of them work fairly well. Make sure to choose the most appropriate sander for the work at hand. The most important things to remember are;

  • Palm sanders and random orbital sanders are for fine sanding work. Best used on doors and other surfaces that requires a smoother finish.
  • Paint grinders and paint sanders are great for quick removal of loose paint but they are difficult to control. A dedicated paint sander will be easier to use than a modified angle grinder.
  • Belt sanders are powerful useful tools but only good for flat horizontal surfaces. They tend to be too heavy and difficult to use on siding and other vertical surfaces.


Removing loose paint is one of the most difficult exterior paint preparation steps. But the results are most rewarding. By using the most appropriate paint preparation tools to strip the loose paint from the exterior siding of a home, you obtain a finish that will last for years to come and not inherit the problems of the underlying layers.

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