Removing Soot From Exposed Wood and Painted Surfaces
We have covered how to clean up fabrics and soft materials like carpet in previous articles, but what about wood, metal, and other materials in your home? When a fire breaks out, the damage inflicted comes from the flames physically destroying and burning items in addition to the odors and residues that smoke leaves behind. Soot, smoke, and flames create lingering damage in everything that they touch.
Utilizing an expert fire restoration company is often the best solution after a house fire but here are some tricks and tips to help you begin the process. For hard but porous materials such as painted surfaces, exposed wood and drywall, there are some techniques you can use to clean up soot and fire damage properly. These techniques can be used on everything from painted surfaces to drywall, plaster, wall board, wall paper, and any other hard but porous materials that might be present within the affected property.
Make sure you educate yourself on what to do before you take action. Improper techniques can lead to additional damage instead of clean up. For example, simply wiping soot and smoke residues will only smear the material around. Brushes and other items that rub the soot into the surfaces are not helpful. Likewise, excessive mopping or water will only cause soot and ashes to soak into the material you are attempting to clean, which will leave a dark, nearly impossible-to-clean stain.
For surfaces such as paint and drywall, if the soot and smoke covering is light, there may be a possibility of cleaning up without having to repaint. In this case, using a sponge or towel with very light dampness can help remove some of the soot. Use these tools to remove as much as possible. Remember to use very light dampness so that the dirtiness can be prevented from soaking deeper into the paint. You can spray or sponge specialized soot-removing solutions starting from the bottom upward to help prevent streaking. After doing so, remember to rinse and wipe the surfaces clean using only clean towels.
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Clean or Repaint?
If the soot is too heavy, you may have to resort to repainting. There are specialized cleaning solutions available to prep the surfaces for repainting by removing as much soot as possible. Check your local hardware stores or call a restoration company for advice and help. Your insurance company or local fire department may also be able to offer suggestions. Remember that if you are repainting, do not bother with sponges and light removal, as you will be simply painting over everything. Before finally coating everything over, using an odor removal solution can help reduce or remove smoke odors, which will linger even after a new coat of paint. Use as much ventilation as possible when cleaning up after a fire in order to avoid breathing soot and ashes because they are unhealthy as well as unpleasant.
These techniques can help you get started on cleaning but often the best solution for fire restoration is a professional. Contact your insurance company for good local restoration companies or ask around – the best are available around the clock and will understand that cleaning up efficiently and quickly is the best solution for all parties involved.