Often, valuable antique desks and Victorian dining chairs in Cumbria are hidden beneath layers of paint and varnish. Dealers see these as a welcome challenge, and will spend many hours restoring them to their former glory. However, from December 2011, antique restorers will no longer be able to use a staple ingredient of their trade: dichloromethane (DCM) paint strippers.
When they admire the beautiful glowing colours and dark patina of a set of restored Victorian dining chairs, Preston buyers do not realise they may well have been restored using the same DIY chemicals used to strip paint in modern homes. Chemicals and antiques don’t usually mix – but neither do gloss paints and polyurethane varnishes. The established way to remove such products is by sympathetic use of a DCM-based stripper such as Nitromors. As a cleaner and solvent these have established superiority in the trade over other methods, such as gas torches and heat guns, which can cause untold damage and are far slower to use. However, following an EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) directive, from December 2010 all such products were banned from manufacture. From December 2011 they will be banned from sale completely, and banned from use by June 2012.
The news incensed BAFRA (the British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association). However, thanks to a well prepared argument suggesting the continued use of DCM strippers under tightly controlled conditions, and by trained professionals only, the Health & Safety and EU REACH Executives are now in talks with manufacturers over this option.
Antique dealers in Lancashire are often BAFRA members, proof that the antique desks seen in Preston showrooms have been restored to the very highest quality.
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