How to remove pva

Written by natasha parks
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You can remove dried polyvinyl acetate (PVAc)--a rubber-like synthetic polymer used in adhesives--from a variety of surfaces, such as plastic (wood-effect) doors, wood and laminate flooring, using white spirit, vinegar or paint thinner. The PVAc is also water-soluble, so you can remove it with several water-based products, including simple, cost-effective home solutions like warm, soapy water. Interestingly, PVAc is itself used as a dried PVAc glue remover when it has been solubilised and can also act to remove emulsion-based paint. According to The Furniture Industry Research Association, joints fixed with PVAc wood glue can resist 30kg forces over extended periods of time. Chemical and environmental engineers need different methods of removal, such as ozonation.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Solvent (such as white spirit)
  • Soft, clean cloths
  • Warm, soapy water
  • PVAc solution
  • Razor blade
  • Gloves
  • Wallpaper steamer

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  1. 1

    Apply a thin layer of white spirit to the surface to be cleaned using a clean cloth. Wait a minute or two for the white spirit to act on the dried PVAc.

  2. 2

    Take a second cloth and soak it in warm, soapy water. Ordinary, household dish soap works fine. Squeeze out the excess. Gently wipe the PVAc off the surface with the cloth. Work it until you see results.

  3. 3

    Repeat the steps to remove all the dried PVAc. Wet a clean cloth with a solubilised PVAc product (liquid), or even nail polish remover. Rub to remove excess dried PVAc with the cloth.

  4. 4

    Scrape off tough PVAc residue with an old, still-sharp razor blade. Use the razor blade out of the razor housing as a separated entity. Wear thick gloves to protect your fingers.

  5. 5

    Use a wallpaper steamer if you still cannot remove the PVAc. Heat in the form of steam can speed up or enhance the removal process, if you are having difficulty.

Tips and warnings

  • Look for removers containing mild acid. Laboratory experiments have revealed that chemical products that contain hydrochloric or phosphoric acid in the range of 0.1 to 2.5 N (measure of concentration) can remove PVAc glue, according to Free Patents Online.
  • Take care when using a razor blade and wear gloves. Sharp edges can cause deep cuts to the skin and harm others if left lying around. Always put away dangerous tools.
  • Wash clothes and hands if they come into contact with any harmful chemicals. Never ingest even small quantities of remover because doing so can damage your health. Spraying a tough, abrasive chemical on antiques is not recommended because of the damage that you can cause to old, valuable materials.
  • Do not rub or scrape surfaces too hard, or you could damage the object you are cleaning, which could result in even more difficult repairs.
  • Do not confuse PVA with PVAc. PVA is polyvinyl alcohol, although the two are often referred to using the same abbreviation.

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