December 21, 2004

In This Issue of The Acid Staining Newsletter

Paint Stripping with Flakey Jake

In a past newsletter called “The Paint Removal Dilemma” I wrote about chemical paint stripping versus mechanical means of removal. I thought that hiring a shot-blaster was THE mechanical way to strip layers of paint, so I went into the pros and cons of that method as compared with chemical removers. The contents of that newsletter are still valid, but I have since heard from a correspondent about yet another mechanical removal method which I did not know existed.

I trust this person’s report because he is not a representative of the company which makes this machine; as he puts it he is “just a lowly weekend warrior” who wanted to revamp the look of his 675 square-foot basement in Grand Rapids , Michigan . But Rick was a very determined and hard-working warrior. I will quote from his letter here:

I just wanted to share how I removed one layer of carpet glue and three coats of paint from my basement floor in preparation for acid stain.

The carpet glue was removed with a rotary floor sander. The glue was old stuff from the 50’s or 60’s. It was brown and dusty when removed. It was hard to get the sander started because it stuck to the glue. I received many bruises from the sander! After the glue was stripped, it was swept up and removed.

This got me down to three layers of paint. For this, I used a commercial floor grinder/polisher used for honing terrazzo. I rented an attachment for the grinder called a Flakey Jake. These are steel inserts for the grinder which hold a sharp carbide blade. The unit successfully scraped about 80% of the paint from the floor.

Since it did not remove all the paint (especially stuff in cracks and crevasses), I had to take drastic measures. At the time I was remodeling the basement, which is all concrete including the walls, so I was able to use a power washer to further clean the floor. I placed the unit next to the chimney and used a dryer exhaust hose to vent the exhaust up the chimney. My basement project also included the bathroom so I removed the toilet and channeled the water down the sewer.

I power-washed every square inch of the basement at 3000 p.s.i. This process took several weekends. I had to keep the nozzle about an inch away from the floor to effectively remove the last bits of paint. Ear, eye, and foot protection were necessary at all times. Additionally, I had to stop sometimes, due to excessive exhaust from the power washer.

This got all the paint up, but left the floor slightly rough. I rented the grinder again but used honing stones to get a like-new finish.

The pros in town said this project was not possible. It took me three months worth of weekends, but the floor turned out awesome. My floor is now the centerpiece of my basement and I get compliments from everyone who sees it...

Whew! I think I might have stopped after the grinding and turned to strong citrus cleaners to soak and dissolve the remaining paint, rather than get into all the pressure-washing. I had not known that a pressure-washer could remove paint from crevices.

Rick sent me a link to the kind of grinding machine he used which is:  The accessories link displays the Flakey Jake strip-sets that he used to remove the majority of the paint. The machine Rick rented is made by EDCO, a company in Frederick Maryland, which manufactures all sorts of surface preparation and professional sawing equipment. You can phone them at 1-800-638-3326 or e-mail them at

We don’t have any process photos of the cleaning procedure (that is probably something Rick doesn’t want to remember), but we have two photos of the finished floor which we are publishing here. Rick purchased Brickform Blushtone Stain from Rafco Products. He contacted them at They were able to deliver the stain to his house, 60 miles away for $15-25. He reports that the Brickform guys were helpful about staining, but that he had some problems with the oil-based sealer which they recommended and would not use it again.

Rick sprayed on half jade and half caramel colored stains, but for blue highlights he threw Miracle-Gro crystals into the stained areas, broadcasting them in arcs. He then covered the stained areas with thin painter’s plastic drop cloths, which slowed down the reaction and eased the transitions between colors (just as I describe in my book, Advanced Artistic Techniques).

I told Rick that he must have been using an old batch of Miracle-Gro, since their newer formulation just makes white spots. He answered that the coloring agent in Miracle-Gro is probably a Hydrated Copper Sulfate CuSO4*5h20. This mineral is called Chalcanthite and you can read all about it at:

You can order some hydrated copper sulfate through chemical supply companies. Rick says to try:  This is a company in Korea .

For a company in the USA try:  

I have not tried using Chalcanthite with stain yet, so I would like to hear from someone who has. We found that the old Miracle-Gro, thrown into blue acid stain could take it from pale turquoise to a really brilliant cobalt color. It would be a nice Christmas present to regain the ability to do this. Many thanks, Rick the Warrior, for helping me to write this newsletter.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season and Happy Staining!