The challenge: Preparing a two-story farm house, built in 1833, for a fresh paint job by stripping the exterior to bare wood — without damaging the underlying cedar substrate.

Jim Cooper, president of Cooper Painting, explains the challenge he faced at this 169-year-old home near Cleveland:

"We had layer upon layer of paint - latex, oil, white wash and milk paint - on the structure. In all, we figured there were more than 45 layers that had never before been stripped. Much of the paint was lead-based so containment was going to be an issue. And, since the home would be occupied during the restoration, I needed products that were environmentally safe, fume-free, wouldn't damage the wood and could contain the lead while stripping all those layers of paint."

Cooper worked with his local Sherwin-Williams representatives to come up with a solution to just this type of situation.

First, he knew that he wanted to use Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Latex Coating as his topcoat paint.

"Duration is the best paint I've ever used on the exterior of a house - period," Cooper says. "It flows well and goes on thick. It remains flexible and absolutely resists peeling. We did a home in Lakewood, Ohio, that was having major peeling problems six months to a year after every paint job. We painted it with Duration with our normal surface prep and it hasn't peeled two years later. Anytime I do an exterior job, I spec Duration."

For paint removal, Cooper conducted a series of patch tests to determine the best product for the job. The winner was the Peel Away 1 paint removal system, a Dumond Chemicals product available at Sherwin-Williams stores.

"We've been using it for six years and are always pleased with the results, "Cooper says. "Peel Away products are more controllable and dependable than other chemical strippers. They're safer, don't drip and remove more paint at one time."

Taking off the paint

Approximately 10,000 square feet of paint had to be removed from the house. Cooper's crews used a total of 880 gallons of Peel Away 1, most sprayed on to a 1/4- inch thickness using an airless sprayer. Brushes were used to apply it on window sashes and door and window frames.

The next stage was to apply paste and a layer of special Peel Away paper that keeps the paint damp for the required dwell time, preventing lead dust from entering the air.

After a 48-hour dwell time, the old paint and Peel Away products were scraped off with putty knives, and placed in 6-ml plastic bags and then re-bagged into Super Sacks, nylon bags with 6 ml of plastic inside that hold more than 245 gallons worth of waste per sack. These sacks were disposed of according to HUD and EPA rules and regulations.

The first application removed about 75 percent of the stubborn paint layers. A second application - with a 24-hour dwell time - took care of the rest. Cooper then scrubbed the area with low-pressure water and soft bristle brushes. The excess water and paste drained off onto plastic where it was vacuumed into the Super Sacks. A neutralizer supplied with Peel Away was sprayed on to saturate the area and allowed to settle. The area was then scrubbed and pH tested (normal range is between 7. 0 and 7. 5).

Once the substrate was completely neutralized, draw scrapers were used to remove any debris hiding in crevices. Palm sanders outfitted with HEPA vacuums were then used to sand the surfaces smooth.

Finishing touches

Crews then caulked the house with Sherwin-Williams 950A Pro Select Siliconized Acrylic Latex Caulk, primed with XIM Plus and finished with two coats of Duration. More than 200 gallons of Duration were used.

"We've been doing one or two restorations like this every year, and it's a part of our business that is really satisfying," Cooper says. "We take a lot of pride in restoring a house like this. When we work on a project for six months, we feel like it's our home. The combination of Duration and Peel Away helps us make it look like it was just built."

Learn more about Duration and other Sherwin-Williams Products