Cleaning and Etching
Painted Surfaces

Cleaning and etching painted surfaces improves adhesion for new paint coats. A hard, glossy enamel finish common in kitchens and bathrooms is a good example of a surface that can present adhesion problems. Etching prepares a surface by increasing its porosity. Cleaning removes contaminants such as grease and grime that can form a barrier.

Tri-sodium Phosphate

Tri-sodium Phosphate also known as TSP is a heavy duty cleaner commonly used in the painting industry. It is an effective cleaner for grease, grime, wax, smoke, soot, and other contaminants. It can also be used for etching painted surfaces. Liquid bleach can be added to tri-sodium phosphate to tackle mildew and mold growth.

TSP comes in both a liquid and a powder (crystalline) form which would need to be mixed with warm water. A typical mixing ratio of 64:1, water to TSP or 1 gallon water to ¼ cup TSP will handle the majority of cleaning situations. For heavy duty cleaning and etching, a stronger mix of 24:1 is more effective. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions, as they may vary.

Tri-sodium Phosphate can be applied with a sponge or a wash cloth. Use a scouring pad along with some TSP to scrub the surface to be painted. Rinse the sponge, cloth, and scouring pad often to remove excess grime. Repeat if necessary. Once the scrubbing is complete, rinse with clean water.

Tri-sodium phosphate can damage linoleum and etch many metal surfaces, causing discoloration. TSP tends to leave a film on glass. It should not be used as a bathroom cleaner. TSP can also dull previously painted surfaces, damage clear wood finishes, and stain unfinished wood. Therefore, adjacent areas that are not intended to be cleaned should be masked and protected from the TSP solution.

Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme cleaning products are safe, non-toxic, non-caustic, and hypoallergenic alternatives to the traditional chemical cleaners. They are 100% bio degradable cleaners that can safely be used on any surface not damaged by water. Enzyme cleaners work well breaking down proteins such as mold, mildew, bacteria, and germs. They are also effective dissolving oils and grease.

Enzyme cleaners can be sprayed onto the surfaces to be cleaned. They can also be applied with a sponge or a wash cloth. It is important to allow enough time for enzyme cleaners to properly perform. Some amount of scrubbing helps facilitate the cleaning process. Always follow product directions.

Liquid Sandpaper - Etching Painted Surfaces

Liquid sandpaper also known as liquid de-glosser and liquid etch is a chemical composition that is used for etching painted surfaces. Etching helps to break down and increase the porosity of an existing, hard enamel finish which in turn enables a new coat of paint to better adhere. Before applying this product, painted surfaces should be clean and free from contaminants. This type of product is not an effective cleaner.

Liquid sandpaper can be applied to a painted surface by wiping the material on with a clean, lint free cloth. Some brands require a minimal amount of rubbing while others only need to be applied and allowed to evaporate. You should only etch as much area as you can paint over within 30-45 minutes. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, and clothing.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.