Paint Stripping Woodwork

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Paint Stripping Woodwork

Postby Vlada on Wed May 16, 2007 9:56 pm

I thought it would be a good idea for those of you who have successfully stripped paint off of woodwork to post your successful techniques with before and after pics as well as tools, chemicals, and other equipment required for the job in the reference section. There are many people who ask this question on this forum. I certainly would like some ideas since I will be doing this in the future. My boyfriend has done this before but his method my not be the most efficient/effective.

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Postby Schag on Wed May 16, 2007 11:24 pm

Everyone, feel free to post all your tips in this thread and I'll move it over to the referenc forum when you're all through.
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Postby Jeanne on Thu May 17, 2007 11:30 am

My tips:
Start with a heat gun set at or below 700 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid lead paint vapors. Use a variety of metal scrapers with the heat gun: standard scrapers, old spoons, dental picks. Use an old coffee can to scrape the melted paint into and put the lid on when done. Use one scraper blade to clean the dirty blade on other scraper. Clean up as you go.

Use CitriStrip for chemical stripping indoors. Brush it on thick, cover it with plastic wrap, and be patient. Use scrapers to remove everything: standard plastic scrapers, spatulas, ols spoons, and dental picks. remove every last glob of residue. Wash remaining residue off with green scrubby pads and denatured alcohol. Let residue sink to bottom of alcohol container and reuse alcohol that's on top many times.
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Postby cs on Thu May 17, 2007 3:29 pm

Good idea for a topic! Here’s my (lengthy) notes about paint stripping:

I spent the summer of 01 stripping six-plus layers of paint off of ALL the woodwork in the house - living room, dining room, stairs, original windows, front door and upstairs hall.

First, I removed every stick of wood I could, to strip outdoors with a heat gun followed by cleanup with whatever inexpensive stripper was on sale at the hardware store. To do this, start by working a putty knife beneath the moldings and working them loose enough to fit a wonder-bar beneath. Gently, and gradually, pry along the entire length of the board to lift the molding from the walls without (hopefully) splitting them or damaging plaster. Use a nail pull to pull the nails through the back side of the piece, rather then driving them back out through the front. Occasionally, you might need to cut a nail with a hacksaw blade (like between the window sill and the side trim) before you can pry off a piece of wood. I used a plain blade (not attached to a hacksaw), and wrapped one end in duct tape for use as a handle. This allowed me to get into really tight spots that a reciprocating saw would destroy.

On the wood that I could not remove – stair banister, stair treads and window jams – I used several applications of Soy Gel (covering the stuff with plastic wrap to let it work over night), and was quite pleased with the results… no smell, supposedly non-toxic, not a skin irritant and surprisingly effective. Here’s where you can get it:

In the past I’ve used PeelAway but, for me, I found it to be too messy for indoor use, and the seemingly endless neutralization process, coupled with the additional sanding required to smooth the wood grain, made any actual labor-savings negligible. Soy Gel cleans up easily with a quick wipe of denatured alcohol.

A note of caution: A heat gun and a good scraper with a sharp blade will comparatively quickly take off many layers of paint... especially on large flat pieces. But the fumes from the lead paint you'll be burning will require a respirator and good ventilation. Also, I was afraid to use a heat gun on wood that was still attached to the walls of our house. The heat gun can ignite the bits of dust in the wall beneath the molding you're working on. This is the kind of fire that smolders quietly for a couple of hours before bursting into a full conflagration once you've gone to bed.

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Thanks for info.

Postby Vlada on Thu May 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Thanks for the info Jeanne and cs. The soy gel sounds nice. I would rather use extra muscle power than take too many risks as well as damaging woodwork. I am very patient and am willing to work on this over the long haul. I can see where this could be some form of meditation for me. I am planning on researching this further and look forward to reading everyone's posts on this. I have other projects for now so I should be well informed by the time I get around to paint stripping.

Maybe there ought to be a designated area for people to post requested reference topics in the reference section. Perhaps I will start a thread there so the other sections don't get too cluttered.

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Postby BrooklynRowHouse on Fri May 18, 2007 12:42 am

Here's some progress shots on my staircase stripping project back in '01.

I learned how to do this at the feet of a master: my neighbor, Joyce Lariviere. She and her hubby have been fixing up old houses for 30 years and her specialty is paint stripping. She and John did an amazing job on the cherry woodwork in their current house. I've always hated paint stripping but Joyce taught me how to, if not love it, at least make it tolerable by approaching it more methodically than I had in the past.

First is the equipment. You need a heat gun to remove the top layers of paint. Heavy rubber gauntlet gloves (mine are track worker gloves given to me by a subway electrician). An assortment of 1-1/2" to 3" spackling knives, preferably with wooden handles to insulate them from the heat. A few dental picks and an artist knife for the details. Stripper sponges (used for scrubbing the surface after most of the paint is removed). A wire stripper brush. Lots and lots of paper towels (pre-rip these into a pile). A 40-gallon plastic garbage can with bag liners. Lots of rubberized canvas drop clothes, taped down. Fabric booties or old shoes (remove them before leaving the tarped area).

I depart from some of the other advice here by preferring the nasty strippers. I really haven't found any of the "green" strippers to be as effective as stuff like Rock Miracle and KleanStrip, which is what I see the professionals use. Used as directed it won't ruin your woodwork. I've used at least 20 gallons of this stuff in this renovation without any damage and this is all woodwork that was refinished naturally, not repainted.

Use the heat gun to remove as much of the paint as you can. Heat up an area enough to get a knife under the paint. Then slowly move the gun, trailing it with the knife. Don't overheat the paint. If the paint starts to blister, move more quickly or turn down the heat.

Don't try to remove every last piece of paint with the heat gun. 80-90% is good. Also, if the piece was varnished it's going to be difficult to get it all off anyway because the varnish will just liquify under heat.

Switch to the stripper. Lay down a heavy coat with a natural bristle brush. Try to get it on in one swipe and don't back brush. The way chemical strippers work is that they create a top seal almost immediately on exposure to air to keep the active chemicals from evaporating. Back brushing removes that seal.

Work areas no larger than a couple of square feet at a time. Let the stripper work for 15-20 minutes. Then scrape it off. I use a 2" scraper in one hand and hold an old 12" metal drywall knife in the other. I dump the spooge scraped up with the 2" knife on to the 12" knife. When the latter is full, I scrape it off into the trash can.

Re-apply more stripper to the area. Wait about 10 minutes. Then use the wire stripping brush to get into the grain and details. Wipe down with paper towels.

Re-apply more stripper. Wait about 5 minutes and attack the details with the picks and artist knife. Keep the points clean with a wad of paper towels in the other hand.

Completely work a small area at a time before the residual paint has a chance to harden again. It will make the job go more quickly.

After you've finished, wipe down the area with a product called After Wash, which is basically MEK. It's nastier smelling than the stripper but it does a great job of neutralizing the chemicals and removing any film.

Wait 24 hours. Then sand through the grits. If it's a piece of furniture, you might also want to apply a sanding sealer to raise the grain before sanding. Needless to say, wear a dust mask for sanding.
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Postby HB on Fri May 18, 2007 11:48 am

If you have large areas of flat wood work like floors, panelled walls, or clapboard siding to do, it may be wise to invest in a silent paint stripper.

Doa google search for it and you'll find the website.

Go to Home depot or Lowes and buy the multiple shaped scraping kit. Comes with a bunch of different profiles that work well.

Take the time to LEARN HOW TO SHARPEN THEM with a file.

Buy cheap putty knives at flea markets. Take a filemand hacksaw to them to "create" the profile that you need to scrape.

I've always had better luck with a pull type scraper vs pushing a putty knife along trying to remove the paint. With the pull type scraper, keeping the blade perpendicular to the surface works best for me.

If you have a lot of old oil based paint, brushing Boiled Linseed Oil on it the night before or even a couple of days before you do the stripping with a heat gun seems to help soften things up a bit. Only get it wet, not dripping with the Boiled Linseed Oil. DO NOT KEEP RAGS DAMP WITH BOILED LINSEED OIL IN YOUR HOUSE. they WILL spontaneously combust.

Hang them outside to dry, store them in a metal container filled with water, or wash them out with soapy water before discarding them.

Don't look for an easy way to strip paint - there isn't one. It all takes hard work and a lot of persistance, just keep your eye on the prize :wink:

Good Luck.

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Postby Schag on Fri May 25, 2007 6:56 pm

Is everyone finished adding to this topic?
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Postby bdfranklin on Tue May 29, 2007 8:03 pm

Here is the method that works great for us. We just finished stripping all of the oak staircase and woodwork in the downstairs of our house. We have foregone the use of a heat gun and declared all-out chemical warfare on the old paint and varnish, with some really nice results. The guy at the hardware store recommended a stripper called Lightningstrip and we have been using it ever since. It is a bit more costly than the others, but well worth it. It removes the paint and varnish with one and sometimes 2 applications. The nice thing about it, it sprays on an area which makes it more economical to use versus brushing. We follow up with a cheaper and gel-like stripper called Stripease, but there are several types on the market. We go through alot of paper towels, steelwool and gloves. The final process is cheap dishsoap and water sprayed on and wiped off with clean rags. Now we are ready to stain and poly. We have before pictures and plan on taking after pictures for our renovating album, if anyone would like to see them.
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Postby lrkrgrrl on Wed May 30, 2007 10:24 am

We love pictures.
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