Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Please tell me I don't have to strip all my woodwork...
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Please tell me I don't have to strip all my woodwork...

So after months of plaster work, I finally primed the walls of my 1920's unit and was ready to paint finish coats. My trim, which was painted with white latex (I did the alcohol test) seemed like it could be primed and painted over with no problem. Until I actually did a close-up visual inspection and noticed bleed-through.

The couple that lived here before me violated the number one rule of painting trim - they didn't prime or sand before applying the latex coat. This has resulted in paint that can be relatively easily scraped off (using a scraper or if something has rubbed hard against it) - revealing the varnished woodwork underneath. I should mention that there is only one layer of latex - the woodwork was unpainted (varnished) until they moved in in 2000.

I'm pretty sure this means that I will have to strip the woodwork, sand, prime and repaint, but I am praying there is some kind of penetrating primer I can use to just paint over it. I'm currently in the process of stripping my mantle and fireplace surround with Peel-away, and I'm hoping that I don't have to do this to the entire room. It's a LOT of trim. Do I have any other options?

Would some pictures help?


Re: Please tell me I don't have to strip all my woodwork...

I'm no big fan of Peel Away...I've tried it and it seems way over priced.
In my circa:1680 delapidated house (used to be anyway) I used heat guns with no problem on all the doors, fireplaces etc etc etc..
Far as your trim goes...the penetrating primer is sitting over there on the skyhooks...lol.

Back to heat guns : )

Re: Please tell me I don't have to strip all my woodwork...


Before you resort to stripping all that paint, I'm gonna suggest that you try a little experiment.........since you only have one coat of latex on the woodwork. Run down to your local Sherwin-Williams store and buy a can of their liquid "deglosser"........which is a great substitute for sanding prep of an old existing finish. (Don't try using the Savogran deglosser you may find at the big-box as a substitute for the SW product as there is NO! comparison in performance)

The SW product is "very hot" stuff. Consequently, you need to use caution when applying it or you can end up actually stripping the layer you're trying to just degloss. Apply it with a cloth as opposed to a paper towel. (Rubber gloves and good ventilation is a must) Apply enough to thoroughly dampen the surface and then step back......without doing any real rubbing. It will begin to "melt" the finish, softening it and deglossing it. Once the deglosser has evaporated (you can no longer see any wetness or sheen on the surface (five minutes or so).....it's ready for you to apply your coat of paint. You don't want to degloss too far out in front of yourself. Degloss only what you can get painted in say 30-45 minutes.

What I'm hoping is that since you only have the one coat of paint and the SW product is so hot......it will be able to both soften/degloss that paint.....and also penetrate enough to cause bonding/fusing of the paint and the underlying clear finish. You may have to adjust how much deglosser you apply to accomplish this (if it will work for you at all). You may have to apply the deglosser heavily to do the deed....as in nearly dripping off the surface.

Anyway...for the experiment I would apply the deglosser to a small area (maybe one side of a doorway casing) and let things completely dry off (maybe two hours or more). Then see if the old paint can still be easily peeled/scratched from the surface. If not, I think you have a viable alternative to stripping everything. If it works, I would proceed with using the deglosser as in a normal application/usage. Just make sure you continue to apply enough deglosser to do the deed.

(I'd suggest while you experiment that you lay down some plastic sheeting (or similar) beneath your work area to protect the floor)

If it doesn't work, then I fear you're in for a complete strip job. Ugh.

Re: Please tell me I don't have to strip all my woodwork...

Thanks for your advice.

The painter seems to think that only certain areas are not sticking properly and that a good prep with a top-notch oil-based primer should hold. He's knowledgable so i think I will trust him on this one. I'm going to suggest the degloss option and hopefully that should do the trick. Will keep everyone posted.

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