Scraper On A Stick

The Problem: How do you scrape peeling paint from an overhead area without having to set a ladder or scaffold up?

Here’s an example — large swatches of paint peeling from a water damaged ceiling. The ceiling is going to require much work, but for now, I just wanted to get rid of these large, ugly peels. But the ceiling is situated over a stairwell and not directly accessible without an extension ladder:

Water Damaged Ceiling With Much Peeling Paint

The Solution: At my local Home Depot’s paint department, I found an all purpose tool holder that screws on to the end of an extension pole — the same type of extension pole you’d attach a paint roller to. Made by Mr. Longarm, it features a wide jaw that’s tightened by two screws with plastic wing nuts:

General Purpose Adjustable Tool Holder

You can also adjust the angle of the holder relative to the shaft. It’s intended mainly for paint brushes, but by first taking the jaw completely apart, it can also accommodate a scraper with a large, hefty, contoured handle, as long as the narrowest part of the handle (nearest the blade) is held by the jaw.

The particular extension pole I have is branded by Home Depot and consists of fiberglass and aluminum shafts with a collar for locking them together once you’ve set the pole to a desired length. My model extends from four to eight feet, which I find more manageable then the six-to-twelve foot models. I’ve also found that the fiberglass shaft of Home Depot’s extension pole offers a better grip than those of other brands:

Extension Pole With Tool Holder And Scraper

For something I threw together spur of the moment, this worked out remarkably well. I was able to get the scraper just where I needed it, and had those big paint peels dispatched in short order:

Scraping Ceiling With Scraper, Tool Holder, And Extension Pole

The only immediate draw back was that the scraper pitched a few degrees when pressed against the surface of the ceiling. So it didn’t remain quite at the angle I’d set it for:

Another View Of The Scraper Against The Ceiling

To get around this, I had to secure the handle of the scraper to the shaft with a plastic cable tie, once I had the tool holder set at the angle I needed. This eliminated that annoying pitching of the scraper:

Ladders and scaffolds can be dangerous things. The less time you spend on any ladder, the better. So an approach like this, when practical, is a step in a safer direction. Of course, you always need to be wary of nearby electrical fixtures, and preferably de-energize their circuits when working near them.

Also, I’ve said nothing here about safely dealing with lead paint on pre-1978 houses, and very deliberately so — I’m leaving all matters of responsibility for lead paint safety to the reader, and urge the hiring of a lead certified, licensed professional, if there are doubts or concerns. The best place to go for information on lead paint safety, of course, is the EPA.

About John Poole

My interests include historic homes, architectural preservation and restoration, improving the energy performance of old houses, and traditional timber frames.
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One Response to Scraper On A Stick

  1. John Poole says:

    I’m glad the water damage photos didn’t make your faint. It’s actually pretty awful to see in person. Much work to be done here! :-)

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