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Q.I have trouble removing old latex paint. It doesn’t scrape well and it gums up sandpaper. What’s the best way to do this?

A.Mike Shannahan responds: I’m not sure it’s the "best" way, but here’s what works for me. I use a Porter-Cable disc sander (#7402) that comes with a paint remover attachment. The pad takes 6-inch tungsten carbide discs. I typically use 36 grit, which is pretty coarse and requires a light touch. The problem with a finer grit is that it gums up too quickly.

Often, I’m cutting through six or eight layers of paint. Even with 36 grit, it doesn’t take too long for the disc to gum up with latex paint. At around $6 per disc, I can’t afford to throw them away, so I remove the discs and soak them in a can of floor stripper — the stuff you use to take up old mastic from vinyl floors. I let them sit over night, then have a helper remove the crud using an angle grinder fitted with a wire-brush cup. We lay the grinder on its back, C-clamped to a sawhorse or the tailgate of a pickup. My helper holds the discs with a large pair of pliers and eases them down onto the spinning brush until they’re clean. (This task requires rubber gloves and safety goggles.) I typically have 40 or 50 discs on a job.

After removing the paint, I clean the surface with 3,500-psi pressure washer. This raises the grain, so I come back a few days later and sand by hand or with a vibrating sander.