A new assessment of Methylene Chloride (a solvent widely used in paint strippers, cleaners, adhesives and sealants) related fatalities in the United States between 1980-2018 was recently published online with Jama Internal Medicine. Researchers and physicians from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and UC San Francisco have found that deaths of workers using Methylene Chloride paint strippers are much higher than originally reported.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Nothing makes a weekend more enjoyable than adding a great DIY project to make your favorite room pop! Introducing a splash of color or a new design feature can really change the whole feel of a home. If you are in need of some inspiration or are just looking for touch of dimension, take a look at these top 10 DIY paint projects.
01 Say Hello to Stencils
02 In With the Old, Out With the New
03 Just a Splash
04 Let's Add Some Fun
05 Chalk It Out
06 Bright and Bold
07 Unexpected Dimension
08 Trendy Accents
09 It's Time for a Makeover!
10 Mix and Match
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Recognize and avoid the most common toxins
found in homes today.
Indoor air can have higher concentrations of toxins than outdoor air. Ironically, these chemical toxins come from the products we use to make our lives better.
- Know the most common toxins that are found in homes today
- Find safe substitutes, mitigate the hazard or do without the product
- Ventilate your home regularly, especially during the winter months
The Most Common Toxins Found in Homes Today
1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
How To Minimize Exposure:
How To Minimize Exposure:
3. Mold and Other Fungal Toxins
How To Minimize Exposure:
- Keep filters clean on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems
- Remove any water sources to mold affected area; dry thoroughly
- Keep relative humidity below 60%, which may require a dehumidifier in some areas
- Store items with high cellulose content (newspapers, drywall, cardboard) in dry areas
4. Phthalates and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
How to Minimize Exposure:
- Check the label of baby products to ensure they are phthalate-free.
- When buying plastic products for the home, ask if they contain PVC or phthalates.
- Avoid eating food stored or microwaved in PVC plastic.
- Look for recycling code #3 or V to spot PVC products before they enter your home.
- Look for PVC-free draperies, window blinds and shades; choose natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wood, bamboo, silk or hemp.
5. Heavy Metals
How To Minimize Exposure:
- Install water filters.
- Use cold water for drinking, making tea or coffee, and cooking.
- Avoid fish high in mercury, such as king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish, shark, orange roughy, and marlin. Limit consumption of tuna, especially steaks and canned ‘white’ albacore.
- If your home was built before 1978, check for lead paint.
- Avoid buying products made with PFC, such as Teflon cookware and Scotchgard.
- Avoid using treated wood (CCA or ACZA) on decks or children’s play structures.
General Strategies to Reduce Toxin Levels in the Home
Only Use Natural Cleaning Products in Your Home
Establish a ‘No Shoe’ Policy in Your Home
Avoid Using Lawn Care Chemicals
Avoid Using Chemical Pest Control Products
Use Low-VOC Paints, Removers, Caulks, Sealants, Finishes, and Carpeting
Use Toxin-Reducing Houseplants
Change or Clean Your Furnace or A/C Filters
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
If you’re wondering what signs you should look for when deciding to refinish your furniture or if you should restore it at all, there are some initial considerations to look at. The first step should be to look at the unique piece and determine whether it’s worth undertaking a restoration project or not. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
Is the piece painted?
If a piece is painted, there’s usually a reason for it. Owners paint over pieces when they are trying to cover up dents, stains and other imperfections. You might be getting more than you bargained for with a painted wood piece. In some cases, you may be better off choosing a piece that only has varnish on it.
Was the piece built solidly?
Pieces from before the 1960s are generally built from solid wood. Any pieces after that aren’t usually made from solid wood and are instead made from laminates and particleboard. These materials are usually not worth refinishing. On the flip side, older wooden pieces from before 1850 can be quite valuable. If you aren’t sure of a piece’s value, consult an antique expert before starting a refinishing project.
Is it stable or will it need to be re-glued?
Test out the sturdiness of the piece. If it sways from side to side or if it’s uneven or coming apart anywhere, then it will need to be taken apart and re-glued (and held together with a clamp until the glue dries) to ensure it’s stable. Ask yourself if this is a step you’re willing to take. If so, can you do this yourself or will you have to hire an expert to do it? If you’re specifically wondering how to refinish wood dressers, pay attention to the drawers and whether they are holding together properly.
Based on your answers to these questions, you should be able to determine how much of your own sweat equity you’re willing to invest in a furniture restoration project.
Wood Furniture Refinishing Supplies Checklist
Before getting started on your wooden furniture restoration or refinishing project, it’s important to get all of your supplies in order so you can complete your project more efficiently. Below is a helpful supplies checklist to follow when beginning your next wood furniture refinishing project:
- Dish soap, sponges and towels
- Paint stripper
- Power sander
- Sandpaper in multiple grits
- Paint scrapers (plastic or metal)
- Epoxy putty
- Wood sealant/Varnish/Polyurethane
- Wood stain or paint (be sure to pick the correct colour)
- Drop cloths
- Wax coating product
- Eye protection
- Latex gloves
- Vacuum cleaner
Other supplies that may come in handy include:
- Painter’s tape
- Plenty of clean rags and cloths
- A bucket for clean water
- Stir sticks
- Glue and clamps for repairing and reinforcing furniture if needed
Best Tips for Refinishing Furniture
If you’ve decided that you are going to move forward with refinishing your wood furniture, then there are a few guidelines to follow.
Below are six essential steps that address how to refinish wood furniture and how to strip finished wood:
Step 1: Clean the Piece
The most fundamental step of any furniture refinishing or renewing project is to give the piece in question a good and thorough clean. This is especially true if the piece has been in storage or has been kept outside for an extended time. Additionally, if you don’t know exactly where the piece came from, it’s likely covered in a layer of grime from dust and dirt buildup.
Many people think that using a heavy-duty cleaner will work more effectively on an especially dirty piece. However, the simplest and most effective way to clean the piece and protect it is to simply use a mixture of dish soap and warm water. Most trusted professionals suggest using Dawn or a similar brand of dish detergent to get the job done.
Scrub down the surface using gentle strokes with a soaped-up sponge. Once you’ve scrubbed the surface clean, rinse it off with fresh water using the wrung-out sponge. After the soap has been cleared away, pat the piece dry with a towel.
Step 2: Assess the Furniture’s Current State
Once you’ve cleaned the piece, you’ll have a better idea of the overall scale of the project. If you’re dealing with an especially old piece, you may find there are white rings, paint stains, dents, chips and cracks.
Take an overall assessment of the piece and determine what will need to be done to make these repairs. This will help you determine which supplies you’ll need such as scrapers, epoxy putty and wax filling compound.
Step 3: Remove Old Finish
If you’ve never done so, then you may be wondering how to strip the finish off of wood. There are two main ways to do this. The first way is to sand it off and the second way is to use a chemical stripper:
Caution if your furniture has a thin veneer sanding the finish is not a good option as you can sand right through it and cause difficulty to repair the damage. Also, keep in mind the dust that will be created will cause a lot of extra clean-up. Use coarse sandpaper, a sanding block or a power sander to strip the finish off until the surface is smooth. Once most of the finish is off, switch to medium grit sandpaper to further remove any shine. Finally, finish off with a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out the wood until all finish is completely removed.
Caution carefully research the product you want to use to make sure you are not exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. There are safer chemical stripping options available. Our recommended source for safer chemical stripping options is EZ Strip. https://www.ezstrip.ca/ Chemical stripping products are designed to effortlessly strip the finish off wood. Spread the stripper over the surface of the wood evenly using a paintbrush. Let the stripper sit for the amount of time recommended by the stripping product, when it's ready you can scrape it off. Continue to use a scraper or paint stripping pad for detailed areas until you’ve scraped all the finish off. Be sure to wipe down the wood (EZ Strip only requires water while other products may require lacquer thinner) and remove any leftover residue, finish, or wax from the stripper.
Stripping Old Varnish and Paint Mess from Wood with EZ Strip
If you’ve never stripped the finish off of wood before, here are some tips you can follow to make the job safer and easier:
- Wear protective gear including eye goggles, and gloves.
- Read the chemical stripper product label before beginning and follow as directed (especially the amount of time to let the stripper sit on the surface of the wood).
- Use drop cloths or plastic underneath the furniture before sanding or using the chemical stripper.
- Apply chemical stripper using fast and even brushstrokes as the product will begin to evaporate.
- Use a brush to get into grooves.
- Reapply another coat of stripper over the top of the finish that doesn’t remove after 30 minutes of soaking.
- Let the piece air dry for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
- Dispose of the leftover chemical products safely by first checking with your local waste disposal company. (EZ Strip product can be disposed of safely in your household garbage)
Step 4: Apply a Coat of Sealant
After you’ve stripped the finish and let the piece fully dry, it’s time to move on to coating. If you’ve used a chemical stripping product, you may need to sand the furniture surface using 120 grit paper to ensure you’ve completely removed any residue.
An optional step is to fill in the grain of your wood furniture to your liking. If your furniture has a tight wood grain, then it won’t need grain filler. However, if your furniture has a more open grain such as with oak or mahogany woods, then you can apply a grain filler. You’ll need to choose the correct grain filling product depending on whether you want to emphasize or de-emphasize the grain and what the desired colour will be in the end. Also, check whether the grain filling product should be applied before or after staining.
Finally, you’ll want to seal the wood to prepare it for staining. A sealant product protects the wood and creates a base for the stain to spread more evenly. Apply a thick coat of sealant and allow it to soak into the wood. Wipe off any excess using a clean rag. Once the sealant has dried, sand down the furniture surfaces again with fine grit sandpaper.
Step 5: Stain or Paint the Wood
The next step after applying the sealant is to stain or paint your wood furniture piece. This is a personal decision, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. When choosing between staining or painting your wood furniture piece consider the following:
- If the piece is antique, you may not want to paint over it so it can retain its authenticity.
- If you don’t like the existing colour or grain of the wood, then you may prefer it to be painted a different colour.
- If the piece will be used in a high-traffic area, it may be more resistant to damage with a stain and sealant than with paint.
- If the piece isn’t constructed from high-quality materials, then you may choose to paint it to make it look better.
- There are several options to choose from when it comes to stains. There are water-based, oil-based or gel stains. There are also products that are a two-in-one stain and finish. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label before beginning the staining step. There are many colours to choose from so be sure to test the stain colour on another piece of wood before applying it to your furniture.
- Paints also have multiple options to choose from. There are different paint finishes such as oil-based enamel or latex that will provide a durable coating. Follow the instructions on the product label before applying the coat of paint.
Step 6: Apply a Coat of Finish
The last step after staining or painting your wooden furniture piece is to apply a finish coat. There are different finish products to choose from. Your choice will depend on several factors including:
- The wood furniture look you desire
- The durability you need
- The type of wood your furniture is made from
- How the item will be used and how frequently
- Your own skill level
Because certain finishes are meant to be sprayed on, they require additional spray tools to get the job done. For beginners and hobbyists, it’s recommended to use finishes you can wipe or brush on.
Once you’ve selected the best finish product for your specific furniture piece, you can add a coat of paste wax to enhance its lustre and further protect it from scratches.
Last-Minute Tips on Refinishing Wooden Furniture
Now that you have a better understanding of the process of deciding when to refinish wood furniture and how to do it, here are some helpful tips to consider along the way:
Use Full or Natural Light:
When staining or painting your wood furniture piece, be sure that you’re working in a fully lit space. This will help you to see any drips, runs or missed spots before it’s too late.
Keep Your Workspace Clean:
Throughout the whole furniture refinishing process, remember to keep your workspace as clean as possible. This includes vacuuming up dust after sanding. Dust particles can get trapped on the wood’s surface and get underneath the stains and topcoats. Once you’ve vacuumed the dust, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth before applying the finish.
Never shake a container of stain or finish. Instead, gently stir the mixture to ensure all ingredients are properly dispersed and not settled at the bottom.
Test the Stain Colour:
Don’t rely on what the samples tell you when deciding how the stain will look. Always test the stain first on a discrete area of your furniture before applying it all over. This will prevent any unwanted surprises when you begin to cover the more prominent areas.
Preserving Your Wood Furniture
Once you’ve completed your wood furniture refinishing or restoration project, it’s important to maintain and protect your piece as much as possible. This includes regularly dusting and cleaning your piece and preventing damage.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to subscribe to our blog! If you want to learn more about furniture refinishing or get some great removal project ideas visit our website EZstrip.ca or check us out on YouTube The EZ Strip Channel
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally announced the withdrawal of rules proposed in 2017 banning methylene chloride’s (MC) commercial paint stripping uses and n-Methylpyrrolidone’s (NMP) paint stripping uses. EPA cites pending risk management processes for the chemicals under TSCA Section 6(a) to justify the withdrawal.
Every single day, workers and communities are exposed to and harmed by these dangerous chemicals. Dozens of families have lost loved ones to the use of methylene chloride paint strippers on the job. EPA’s refusal to act in the wake of thousands of citizen comments, a mountain of scientific evidence, and hours of testimony in support of these protections is public health malpractice.
Even if you don't live in the United States here are a few things you should know about these hazardous chemicals:
Also known as dichloromethane or DCM, is a solvent used in a range of products. Methylene chloride has been linked to cancer, cognitive impairment, and asphyxiation. Many methylene chloride-based paint and coating removers are used in areas with limited ventilation such as bathrooms, allowing fumes to build up. Methylene chloride vapor is heavier than air, so it concentrates low to the ground, right around the level where people stripping surfaces are breathing. According to EPA, respiratory protection may not be enough to protect people from being exposed where levels of methylene chloride are high.
Also known as NMP or 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, is a solvent used in a range of products. The average consumer is most likely to encounter it in paint strippers, even though safer alternatives exist. NMP has been closely linked to developmental impacts including miscarriages. EPA describes NMP as a developmental toxicant.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
SAFE ALTERNATIVE STRIPPING CHEMICALS
Dimethyl Esters (also known as Dibasic Esters, DBE, and DMEs*) are readily biodegradable, low odor, low VOC solvents. They have proven to be excellent solvent substitutes in many cleaning and stripping applications. Commercial acceptance and use of dimethyl esters and dibasic esters continue to increase due to their positive economic, environmental and performance characteristics. DBEs can be used to replace more conventional and increasingly regulated removal materials and industrial solvents. One company that has utilized these solvents in combination with innovative technology is EZ Strip®. For more info on safer paint removal options that contain DBEs like EZ Strip® visit EZstrip.ca
With a preferable environmental, health and safety profile DBEs are considered a “greener” or environmentally friendly and safer product due to several safety and regulatory attributes, including:
If you use paint strippers frequently, it is particularly important that you follow these steps:
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Investing in a new fall improvement project can be a great way to enhance the function of your home just in time for the flurries! Picking the right project is key to ensure the best preparation for winter. Here are 5 ways to get you ready for the cold and certainty that your home is fully prepared:
When looking for a great way to prepare your home for this upcoming winter, one of the best remodeling projects you could start with is replacing your old windows with new ones! Old drafty windows are one of the leading causes of energy loss in a home. This can result in having to pay a great deal of money on energy bills in order to keep your home at a comfortable level for you and your family. When it really comes down to it, older windows weren't designed with the same level of energy efficiency in mind like they are today. If you’ve had older windows for some time, it’s likely they have developed cracks, warps, or just aren't sealed how they should be. TIP: Refinish window frames when replacing windows. Cracked paint build-up can reduce your window seal and make sealant cocking less effective. Refinishing projects can call for some harsh removal chemicals, but that’s not the case when using EZ Strip® products - the safer alternative. Visit EZstrip.ca for removal product recommendations.
Much like windows, the doors of your home are also quite important when it comes to insulation in maintaining a comfortable living environment during the winter. If your doors are a bit on the older side, you may have noticed that damage has started to show, or feel a general draftiness around them. This fall is the perfect time to consider replacing them with an updated and more conducive door set to maintain a comfortable house setting. TIP: Refinishing your original door instead of a new set, will save you money! Visit EZstrip.ca for removal product recommendations.
Considering all the cooking that goes on during the holiday season, now is the time to make improvements to your kitchen! There are many ways you can go about updating the heart of the home. You can do minor things like replacing the hardware on your kitchen cabinets, or go big and refinish your wood surfaces. TIP: Refinishing projects can call for some harsh removal chemicals, but that’s not the case when using EZ Strip® products - the safer alternative. Visit EZstrip.ca for removal product recommendations.
Paint Your Home’s Interior
As the fall arrives; painting the sidewalks and streets with a whirl of golden leaves, you may feel inspired to pick up the brush yourself. If autumn has a hint of Jack Frost, interior projects are always preferable. Painting your home’s interior allows you to get creative, have fun and reinvent the look of your indoor living space. TIP: For best results with your painting project make sure to prep/prewash the surface for proper paint adhesion. Visit EZstrip.ca for surface prep product recommendations.
Winterize Your Deck
Autumn weather can go either way. If you’re enjoying an extended summer, you may feel inspired to get outdoors and complete some exterior renovations while you still can. To winterize your deck, first wash the wood with a power washer or surface prep product to remove dirt and grime. Then let the surface completely dry out before applying a fresh coat of protective sealant or stain. This will provide years of life to your deck and allow you to enjoy it once all that snow melts away. TIP: For best results choose a sunny day with no chance of precipitation to apply sealant or stain. Visit EZstrip.ca for surface prep product recommendations.
Whether it's your primary residence or an investment property, it pays to get some key tasks and renovations done in the fall before you settle in for the winter. Upgrading to energy-efficient windows and doors can reduce significant increases to your heating bill, make life more comfortable and increase your home’s curb appeal. Interior improvement projects can bring added value to your home and also increase the cozy feel you'll need to get ready for the chill of winter.