The Hot Shot Approach

During the course of doing brick cleaning work in one of the historic areas in Allentown, a property owner approached us about removing numerous layers of paint from his brick.  We tried to remove it but found that by and large, the cold water machine was simply not effective for that procedure. We saw where people were sandblasting the brick and were not impressed. Abrasive blasting cannot be controlled adequately and often damages the brick while leaving significant amounts of paint that should have been removed.

We researched the market and found that the most effective way of removing paint was to utilize chemical paint removers or strippers in conjunction with hot water pressure washers.  We found out the cost of a decent hot water pressure washer was significantly higher than comparable sized cold water machines.  We recognized however the advantages of this type of equipment for projects beyond paint removals and made a substantial investment (and a real “leap of faith” at the time) into a considerably larger hot water machine in order to be properly equipped to service this growing market.

As we sampled dozens of different paint removers we discovered that while the manufacturers often claimed to have a “miracle” stripper, it was rarely if ever true. Some removers work on some layers of paint and not on others while a different variety might work on the layers the first wouldn’t remove but not on other layers! The only effective way we found to remove virtually all paint was using a combination of strippers, in the proper sequence to remove the various layers of paint.  We also found the warmer the ambient temperatures and the hotter the water, generally the better or easier the project went.

We experimented with a myriad of approaches (including developing some of our own proprietary restoration chemicals) and settled in on a system that allowed us to remove virtually any paint or coating and get back to the original substrate. That was the good news. The bad news was that we often found out why the building was painted in the first place. More often than not the brick underneath all of that paint was filthy, frequently the mortar between the bricks was in poor condition and in some cases windows, doors or other openings had been “closed in” and the brick that was used didn’t come anywhere close to matching the original.

It also seemed that very often when people realized we started out as painting contractors and were not only experts at “unpainting”, but were capable of providing high quality paint jobs, they would ask us to complete their project as a “turn key” restoration process. From that involvement we ended up rebuilding cornices, fabricating new “dentals” and buttresses, new “gingerbread” or decorative frieze boards, repairing box gutters, repointing brick and completing a myriad of other related services (from carpentry and roofing to masonry repairs) to achieve a fully restored, true to original architecture, renovation.

We created a substantial portfolio of “Painted Ladies” that would rival anything done in San Francisco or anywhere else in the country.

Check out our photo galleries to see examples. We will add more photos as they become available although again, as mentioned elsewhere, a substantial number of the photos we had were destroyed in the fire that destroyed our offices in 2001.  If you were one of our clients and have any before and after photos we would truly appreciate your willingness to share examples of the differences Hot Shot has made in some of countless properties!!!

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