COP: Failed Coating Removal -- Trim

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Craftsman Operating Procedures (COPs), developed by the PDCA Craftsmanship Forum, establish a benchmark for how painting is done at a craftsman level, so that individual painting companies can customize them for their own brand of craftsmanship. From job site setup to painting trim and cleanup and closeout, COPs constitute a ready-made tool to help you standardize craftsmanship practices within your painting company. The COPs also help train employees in consistently delivering the quality that you promise your clients.

Each month APC will highlight a new COP. This month: failed coating removal from trim by scraping and sanding EPR-10.

  • Adhesion tests can be helpful to determine the level of coating removal needed.
  • Tapping the surface may produce a hollow sound, which may indicate poor coating adhesion.
  • All wood species are prone to “mill glaze,” which may have been painted over without having the “glaze” removed. If you can see sheen on the bare wood surface, it must be sanded with medium-grit paper.
  • A pull scraper provides more leverage and is generally more effective at coating removal than a 5-in-1-type tool.
  • Smaller scrapers may be more efficient than are larger ones in some situations.
  • Various tools including multiple-sized pull scrapers, sandpaper, wire brushes, putty knives, 5-in-1s, etc., can be used to remove coatings in different situations.
  • Scraper blades should always be sharp.
  • Carbide blades will hold their sharp edge longer than will traditional steel blades but need to be professionally sharpened or replaced.
  • Cross-grain scraping may damage the substrate and should be kept to a minimum.
  • On end-to-end trim joints, turn the scraper to a diagonal orientation before crossing adjoining joints, to minimize the tendency to “tear out.”
  • High-build primers may be used to reduce the amount of sanding required to enhance appearance.
  • Electric sanders may allow sanding/abrading to be performed more efficiently.
  • A vacuum can be connected to an electric sander to reduce dust and cleanup time and it will also extend the life of the sandpaper.
  • Scuff sanding surfaces promotes adhesion. This is especially valuable on hard, glossy surfaces.
  • Local power companies will provide protective covering around above-ground electrical service to ensure protection from electric shock.
  • Be aware of varied substrate, coating and surface conditions and adjust your scraping, hand pressure, sanding technique and sandpaper grit accordingly.
  • The typical work zone when working on a ladder is from a comfortable height above your head to the top of the ladder. Work in a section that is the width of your arm span while centered on the ladder.
  • Working from the bottom up will keep your work surface cleaner and will increase productivity.
  • Use a straightedge as a guide for scraping vertical grooves and keeping the scraper from gouging delicate profiles.
  • In some cases, it’s more efficient to replace a piece of trim instead of repairing it. APC

A series of 20 Residential Interior COPs and a series of 25 Residential Exterior COPs can be purchased from PDCA’s online store. Visit for more information.


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