Heat Stripping

Last updated: April 8, 2018

What Does Heat Stripping Mean?

Heat stripping is a paint or coating removal technique, which uses heat to ease the removal of the coating. It is an alternative to using chemical or solvent-based removal methods and it may replace or work in tandem with physical and mechanical removal methods. The application of heat typically comes in the form of a heat gun, which directs heat at the surface to be stripped.

Coating removal can be a critical step when a coating needs to be replaced or fixed. Failure to remove the previous coating layers or to provide a clean surface may cause adhesion issues and lead to delamination and other defects. Heat stripping is a cheap and rapid method to facilitate this coating removal step.


Corrosionpedia Explains Heat Stripping

Applying heat to a coating softens the cured resin or possibly decomposes the polymer, making it easy to physically remove with a removal tool. The heat can be supplied in various ways including:

  • Heat guns
  • Blow torches
  • Steaming
  • Infared (IR) heat guns

Each method provides the same heating effect, but has different advantages. Handheld heat guns are convenient for most jobs, while steaming can help with heating large surface areas. Blowtorches can control the temperature with various nozzle controls and shapes, but are particularly dangerous. IR radiation-based solutions are the safest.

While convenient, the greatest danger of heat stripping is the possibility of starting a fire. High temperature heat guns (above 593°C/1,100°F) are dangerous when used on lead-based paints because they will release toxic lead fumes.

Depending on the underlying surface, heat stripping can provide the added benefit of drying the underlying surface. However, in certain cases the heat may damage the underlying surface. While convenient, heat stripping requires safety considerations and care.


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