I have a brick house with a wall inside the garage that was painted, and after a few years another coat of paint was applied, for a total time of about 25 years on the wall. The second coat, however, was a paint meant for steel, and is now turning into a fine powder. I can scrape the loose paint, but how do I safely and fully remove the powdery paint from the walls? I thought I could use a steel brush, but that’ll send the steel paint into the air. Even with a face mask, I’m afraid it will get into my lungs.
Applying a paint-stripping product to the brick surface will help speed the process, but your first concern should be proper protection for the job. Manufacturers like MSA Safety Works offer a range of gear to suit different project conditions, recommending selections based on the specific hazards and airborne particulate concentrations present, duration of exposure, and paint removal method (chemical strippers add another dimension of toxins you'll need to consider).
Because the paint you're planning to remove sounds relatively new (dating after the early 1970s) and thus lead-free, a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator like MSA Safety Works' Harmful Dust Respirator should suffice if you'll be removing the paint by scraping. If chemical stripper will be applied to the work surface, choose MSA's Multi-Purpose Respirator, which has an acid gas/organic vapor cartridge to help protect against the additional chemical gasses you'll be dealing with. Tackling your project while the weather's still warm? Consider getting a respirator that includes an exhalation valve for extra comfort. Proper safety glasses should also be in your plans, and if you'll be using a chemical stripper, MSA's Chemical-Splash Indirect Vented Goggles should be used. Don heavy-duty rubber gloves as well.
Before your start your paint scrapping project, an initial fit test is critical to ensuring that your respirator and eye protection do the jobs they're meant to, and you should also do a fit check every time you put them on. For more fit specifics and product recommendations, call MSA toll-free at 1-888-MSA-HOW2. You can also tap into their free project and product training resources at www.MSASafetyWorks.com. Finally, make the most of the ventilation available in your garage work space, adding a few fans to help clear the air.