We had the need to remove some very old paint on some concrete inside our San Francisco tunnel entry home. The red and green paint was probably done when the house was originally built in 1940 and the original owner kept repainting it over the years. We have made some attempts over the years we have owned the house with chemicals and brushes to try and rid ourselves of the dots up and down the walkway with minimal results. I had some time this week to take this project on again and bought a Wagner Paint Eater after initial attempts with Jasco remover products made no impact.
The Paint Eater was worth a shot and it did make some headway on the 70+ year-old enamel concrete paint. But, the porous nature of the “eating” discs get mucked-up very quickly. They are reasonably effective initially, but there was something about the enamel on this cement that would immediately kill the abrasive effect of the discs.
The discs are $17 a piece, so you can burn through them quickly in this type of scenario. After going through a few, I decided to augment the whole equation. I was able to make the PaintEater much more effective on the concrete pain with just one side-effect – I killed it after a few hours of use. So, I made it very effective with concrete paint, but also seized the engine within a 24 hour period.
I hit Lowe’s and purchased some course sand. The Quikrete Paver Base worked well. You want to get the courser sand and not the ornamental kind.
I also got a larger bucket that can handle the PaintEater with the handle down and a few extra PaintEater replacement discs. Take the sand and put it in the bucket and pulse the power of the PaintEater to get the sand integrated into the disc pad weaving. There is a hollow center area of the disc pads that you can also jam some sand.
If you can start the sand infusion process with new replacement discs right off the bat, you will get a very effective sand grinder system that cuts right through tough paint.
I was able to get through a tremendous amount of old paint with a few discs and about a half bag of sand. It is important to get the sand into the weaving of the discs because the centrifical force of the PaintEater will fire it outward and the more that is loose or not captive underneath the disc will fly everywhere. So, you have to wear a mask and safety goggles.
Sadly, after a few hours and less than 24 hours of ownership, I did kill the PaintEater with this sand infusion process. The air intake into the engine does not guard against fine grain sand, so I seized the engine and was unable to clear it without destroying it. But, it was super-effective for the few hours I had with it and worth the sacrifice.
In closing, I probably should have just rented a sandblaster, but hacking power tools to achieve better results is pretty fun. I was able to chew through more in a few hours than chemicals and official use ever could did with the only side-effect being absolute sacrifice of the Wagner