Paint-stripping made easy, even in SoCal

Commercial painting contractor discovers a product to save time and labor, and keep his crew safe in a market with stringent regulatory requirements and tight job margins.  

Bill Seidel couldn’t believe it when he got the call.

He could, of course, because he had seen this scenario play out so many times before. Another newly built high-rise in LA in need of rehab work… already. But he never ceases to be surprised at the early failures of buildings in the Los Angeles market – one where his firm, Streamline Finishes, thrives as a painting and finishing contractor for commercial construction projects.


This remediation involved a 2-year-old, 700-unit, six-story building occupying a full city block in downtown LA at 8th and Grand. 

The problem?

The building’s plaster substrate wasn’t originally primed correctly, with paint applied to the plaster too early. So, when the Southern California rains inevitably poured down, the moisture went through the joints and cracks, resolidifying the calcium chloride in the plaster and causing efflorescence everywhere.

Bill Seidel  oversees the use of Safety Peel 1.

Struggling for a solution

Streamline Finishes was among five firms called out to bid the removal of the paint and the recoating of the entire building. After winning the job, Seidel said he tried around 15 paint strippers on the market before landing on one in particular. Unfortunately, even that product was too problematic to complete the job.

“The alkali was so strong, and the product was so difficult to install that we ended up burning decks and guys’ skin was getting burned,” Seidel said. “It was an absolute nightmare product to work with.”

So, they kept looking for a product, and technique, to do the trick.

“We tried grinding, sanding, stripping, medium-blasting, nothing would take this off without damaging the plaster,” he said.


Finally, Seidel found a solution through an unrelated conversation with Cory Hellman, a representative for multiple building products and manufacturers.

“Cory said, ‘Well why aren’t you using PROSOCO?’” Seidel said.

Hellman sent him samples of four or five products, of which Seidel selected PROSOCO’s Enviro Klean Safety Peel 1. Because the product does not contain methylene chloride or methanol, it would be safer for Seidel’s workers applying the product.

Beyond that critical feature, the product offered several additional advantages Seidel valued; so many in fact that he couldn’t say which one ultimately sealed the deal for the 6,000-gallon order.

Finally, a paint stripper that doesn't need to be neutralized.

Abundance of advantages

Many paint strippers require neutralization in order to restore proper pH balance and enable the paint to bond to the substrate. Safety Peel 1 does not require neutralization, which saved Seidel an entire step of the process in labor, time and money.

Guy Mazza, PROSOCO’s regional sales manager in the U.S. Northeast, said skipping the step of neutralization is one of the most popular reasons for choosing Safety Peel 1.

“You’re saving a whole step in the labor process, and labor is the majority of the cost of a project like this,” Mazza said. “On projects I’ve been on, skipping neutralization can save upwards of 40% on labor costs per square foot.”  

A neutralizer isn’t failproof either. Often, applicators can miss a tiny spot here or there on the field of the wall, causing the paint to fail yet again.

Safety Peel 1 in use.

It’s hard to tell whether a neutralizing product is covering the whole field, Mazza added.

Seidel wasn’t ready for the risks and costs associated with neutralizing, but above all he preferred a product that was safer for his crew to apply and could be applied in large quantities.

“The time, the ease of application, the safety of the product and the workers handling it, there’s a lot of pros to it,” he said. “The speed with which we can install it, the reactive time in which it works. The containment is huge, and the neutralization is obviously a massive step. It has such great benefits. It’s kind of hard to explain unless you can actually physically see what we’re doing and the magnitude of it.”

G8 Apartments in Los Angeles

Between January and May 2018, Streamline Finishes crews applied between 200 and 300 gallons of Safety Peel 1 each day.

“The product is performing exceptionally well,” Seidel said in late April 2018. “We’re doing it in sections with scaffolding, netting and shrink wrap, and taking on a city block at a time, one elevation at a time.”

Seidel noted a significant need for a product like this with the amount of rehab high-rise work happening in LA, a market notorious for its environmental regulations.

“In Southern California, you can’t use any medium-blasting or something that generates silica without dealing with the regulations,” he said. “This product seems to solve a lot of that.”

Mazza says he anticipates Safety Peel 1 becoming more widely used everywhere, and especially in regions with more stringent regulations, due to its environmental profile and myriad benefits.

High-rise rehab work in California and all along the West Coast continues to grow. For more information about Safety Peel 1 and our other products to save you money, time and labor, contact Customer Care at 1-800-255-4255.

Safety Peel 1 on site at G8 Apartments in Los Angeles