Removing Paint from Silhouettes

   Depending upon the fabric, type of paint and severity of the spill or spot, removing paint from Silhouettes shades (or similar products) can sometimes be done.  Even if it isn't possible or prudent to get all of the paint out, enough of an improvement can be made to reduce the signature of the residue to an acceptable level for most clients.  Attempting to remove paint from the fabric vanes of the room darkening Bon Soir shades is not recommended as it will destroy the fabric, causing more damage than good. 

   As with any spotting attempts, it is important to pre-qualify what may be possible with the owner before proceeding with any work.  They own the stain (and any existing damage done in trying to get the paint out themselves).  Any subsequent holes in the fabric, discolorations or damage they may lay at your feet, so it is best to document existing conditions and qualify how far you can go toward removing the paint.  Attempts to remove paint from the fabric vanes will often remove color and leave a lighter spot if the paint is removed.  While this may be more acceptable to some than the darker paint spot, be sure they are clear on this possibility, so you aren't surprised or they aren't faulting you for it after the paint is gone.  It is always better to err on the conservative side in any spotting attempts, so you aren't held responsible for fabric damage, such as holes or abrasions from harsh rubbing (friction), chemicals or blotchy spots due to poor flushing or rinsing techniques.


   Paint removal begins, as with any job, with a thorough pre-inspection.  If the fabric is too old or brittle to withstand the mechanical or chemical action necessary to loosen or remove the paint, you best not even attempt it.  If their attempts to remove the paint included solvents that have now damaged the texture of the fabric, sheer or glue lines, then you won't be able to reverse that damage - so is it deemed worth proceeding or not?  If the glue lines are weak or the paint is thick or an oil based enamel that is fully cured, you're going to have a lot more challenging job than if it is a cheap water based contractor's white or off white paint.  Finally before proceeding, are you prepared with the right equipment and chemistry to warrant tackling the project with a reasonable hope of success?

Clean the Whole Shade:

The whole shade needs to be cleaned thoroughly first.  Doing just one area will leave at minimum water rings or a clean zone.  If the customer isn't committed to paying to do the job correctly, don't make a bigger problem by trying to clean one spot, and then trying to go back and blend everything later.  Any shade over about six months old or that hasn't been recently cleaned, is going to have enough dust and airborne grime in it (no matter how clean it looks) to leave a water marks or dirt rings.

   Also, it is critical when using spotting chemicals that the loosened debris from the spot remain suspended and aren't being concentrated and simply redeposited on dry areas of the shades fibers where they may not come off as easily.  So clean the whole shade, and prepare to do your paint removal spotting work after the shade is hanging, and still wet from cleaning.

Spotting Techniques for Silhouettes:

   Success in spotting requires plenty of patience and using the right techniques with the right chemistry.  Move carefully, allow the chemistry time to work and be thorough in what you do with an eye to the details, and it is often possible to accomplish results that will surprise you.  

  Paint removal requires using an effective solvent to break down and liquify the dried paint, and then successfully flushing it out of the fabric.  Gentle agitation helps work the chemicals into the paint, and speeds up the process.  Your finger or a very soft toothbrush are the best tools to careful use for providing mechanical action during the spotting process.  Tamping or patting (to work in the paint removing solvent and to loosen up the paint) is better than scrubbing or any abraiding action that will stress the fabric or may damage fibers or create holes.  An effective specialty paint removing solvent (POG such as Matrix Breakdown sold by JonDon) also works far better than a generic dry solvent spotter.

  Begin your paint removal by first ensuring the fabric in the working area surrounding the paint is wet, and test a bit of your paint remover in a descrete way to see if it will be effective in removing the paint.  You can simply wet a small area of a soft towel with the POG (paint, oil, grease removing spotter), and gently hold it against a spot of the paint for a few minutes, and then gently swipe it to see if there is any sign of color from the paint transferring to your rag.  The POG needs some dwell time to soften up and break down the paint.

   For surface paint that is just on the sheer face fabric, sometimes all that is necessary to remove it is to gently swipe across the spot with a soft rag soaked in the POG until the paint has been wiped off.  It is important to support the fabric by supporting it against another rag, your hand or something soft behind it, so your strokes aren't stressing the fabric as you gently wipe across it.  Also, by positioning the shade so that the paint loosened in the sheer isn't being pushed back into the fabric vane, whenever possible, surface paint is often relatively easy to remove. Pounding the spot with a soft tooth brush or your finger to work the POG into the paint, and to move the loose paint free of the fabric fibers, speeds up the process on thicker spots.   Continue with a cycle of loosening up paint, flushing off the area thoroughly every few minutes to remove the paint, and to check your results as long as you can safely make progress.

   For heavier spots or thicker paint that is soaked into the fabric of the vane or matted into the sheer and the vane, it is important to allow the POG solvent time to work and soften the paint.  Position the shade fabric so that you can contain the applied solvent on the paint spot (not dripping wildly down the fabric and carrying any loose paint in long streaks down the shade), and allow it to work using mechanical action carefully to help it along (patting with finger or soft tooth brush). When you see some paint starting to move, apply a bit more solvent, if needed, and work it a bit more before flushing (using an injection/extraction head or sprayed water and a Shade Brite head), and rinsing the area thoroughly.  You don't want the loosened paint that is moving into a puddle to have time to settle into the fabric too much.  If you don't see any paint movement, flush the area well and stop.  If you see paint movement and can safely proceed without damage, repeat the process several more times.  Typically, when you are going to be successful, you end up with a larger spot that looks bad in your work area - however, as long as you have kept the whole area wet with water beyond the work area where the loose paint is moving, it will come out easily as you flush and repeat.  Work delicately as hasty or rough moves may quickly damage the fabric creating holes or stress marks that you can't resolve.  If you have several paint spots or a large spot, do the work in smaller manageable areas.  It is often necessary to work both sides of the fabric on larger spots, or as the paint begins to move with the solvent during the spotting process.

      How many times you should repeat the spotting process depends upon the fabric, paint color, fabric color and condition of the shade.  Friction and your solvent is going to remove any coloration from the fabric vanes in your work area.  On white or light colored fabrics, this won't be noticeable or as much a cause for concern as it will be on larger areas of darker colored fabrics.  Pigments in darker paints are also harder to remove, or their residues are move visible than those of white or light colored paints on ligher colored fabrics.  There's often a fine line between going far enough for acceptable results, and going so far that you cause damage while trying to get 100% or "just a little bit more" out.  It is better to stop at 80-90% and end up with a shadow only you and the owner will know exists, than to go for 100% and regret it.

  After you are done spotting, flush the whole area thoroughly again, well clear of your work area as residual solvents may damage the texture of the fabric, or leave a spot when the shade dries, that you won't see while it is still wet.

  While heat speeds up the chemical process and softens the paint, it also will relax the polyester fabric and if too much is applied, contribute to puckering of the fabric or affect the glue lines. 

   Care should be exercised with attempting to remove paint from Shangri La or other Silhouette clones as their sheer fabrics are sometimes strips joined at the glue lines, instead of a solid piece.  Rubbing up or down across these fiber ends can leave noticeable changes in the texture along the glue lines, lead to delamination or damage fabrics that are weakend with sun, age, etc.


Moldy Silhouettes


How do you get mold or mildew out of a Silhouette blind ?

There are several factors to consider when approaching this problem.  What are the expectations of the client, how old is the shade, and which method are you going to use to clean it?

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