Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint
7 posts / 0 new
Last post
Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

I have just done a finish coat of plaster on my walls. (I stripped paint and removed/covered calcimine first.) The woodwork is in sad shape in places. I know the top layers are latex and they were applied over a more glossy paint--probably also latex, but I an guessing there may be oil under that. The latex is peeling/chipping off in places, especially on the doors, down to the glossy layer. In a few places the paint is worn down to the wood. On the walls,the glossier layer was on top of old-probably oil-based paint.
I must use oil-based primer on the new plaster walls, but what do I use on the woodwork? I do not have the physical ability to strip it all. Any suggestions?:confused:

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

I don't know what woodwork you were referring to exactly: window panes, paneling, door jambs or something else.
please be more specific or upload photos to a website like photobucket.com and give us the link.

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

Photos: Woodwork is baseboards, trim, 2 doors, a window, a built-in med cabinet and a built in linen cupboard. The album includes 3 photos, one of door and surround, one of med cabinet, and one of baseboard plumbing cover and trim.

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

I saw the photos. Sometimes I prefer to remove such wood (baseboards, window trims, etc) and install new.

Trying to sand multi layers of different paints to the wood and refinish it is labor intensive and may not be worth it. No matter what you do to it, it doesn't look good.

On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget, you may have no choice but to do just that.

Some folks just love to restore and restore and restore. Me, I never had so much patience and so much extra time, so I opted to replacement. Easier and better looking.

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

I would go with dj and replace. It is likely that some of the older paint contains lead and you do not want to be sanding leaded paint. Do not even think of trying to deal with lead paint on your own if you have young children in the house.

You can try using a paint stripper to try strip away to a more flat surface. Make sure you wipe the surface down with mineral spirits afterward or the stripper will eat your new paint too. It is not hard work – it is just tedious and time consuming. The stripper does all the work. Also, keep the stripper off your newly painted plaster walls.

Zinsser BIN is a good primer for your situation as I think it can go over both latex and oil paints. I used Zinsser 123 which is water clean up over my dark stained varnished pine woodwork and it worked really well. That was 15+ years ago and it is still holding up.

It will be much easier to work on the door if you take it down and put it up on some sawhorses - preferably in the garage.

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

That type of trim is very typical for the homes in my neighborhood.

For the sale of labor saving (time) we replace with new as the local lumber yards carry the material.

We recycle as much of the old wood as possible for other uses, or give it to those folks who have waaayyyyy too much time on their hands.

Re: Help with old woodwork w/ many layers of paint

I'll be the oddball (as usual) and recommend that you keep the wood provided you can do a bit of work wit it. A full stripping is not needed to repaint; all that requires is a smooth reasonably straight and flat surface which can be bonded to. What it looks like from here is that someone applied latex over a glossy oil based paint without sanding, so if you can get down to that layer it may all peel off rather easily. Details can be attacked with a small wire brush. You'll have to get all the latex off first (well, all in the main flat areas and at least 95% in the detailed areas) by careful [email protected] and brushing alone. No real lead hazard exists doing it this way but don't create a lot of dust. Now that you've reached the place where the bond is good, using a flat hard wood block and sandpaper, go over the flat areas until they are smooth. Start with 80 grit, then 120, finish with 150. Warning: this will create lead-laden dust so use at least a dust mask and heavy ventilation drawing the dust away from you or more as you see fit; legally you might be required to use a professional Lead Abatement certified contractor. Personally I don't worry. In the detailed areas bowed or folded sandpaper will match the contours or use a backer behind the sandpaper that matches the shape of the detail. Once you've got it as smooth as you can, any edges, dips or holes can be filled and smoothed with MH Ready-Patch spackle available at the big-box stores. After it dries, sand to contour and smoothness again. Repeat that with any missed spots, then prime, paint, and enjoy the beauty you created :cool:

The work is not hard but consumes time directly related to how perfect you want it to look like. When you think you're getting close to painting, apply some primer over that area and let it dry. What you see then is what you'll get with painting and the test will guide you to how much you will need to do in order to get the results you want. It's usually less work than you think to reach that point- you may be happy without going to the 150 grit paper; I usually am. Little money, little skill, and little work but lots of time doing it are needed so it's your call but the results can be stunning in effect. One last hint- always sand latex paint by hand; power sanders heat it up turning it to gum which clogs your sandpaper and creates hard-to-deal-with lumps of paint that may now stick a whole lot better than before. With experience power sanders can work but it's a learned skill and generally not something you should attempt unless you're willing to study and learn and change out a lot of sandpaper belts or discs doing that :eek: Oil-based paints can behave similarly but are usually more forgiving of staying in one spot too long with a power sander.


Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.