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Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?

I just moved into an 80-yr-old apartment which has clearly been the victim of "good enough" fixes for at least 60 of those years. Worst is the painted woodwork (doors, frames, baseboards, etc) where people have slapped successive layers of gloss on top of paint that is peeling, cracking, or has drips, without any attempt to fix the problem. The result is a mess that needs deep sanding, and some filling, before priming and painting. However, several layers down is lead-based paint. (I did one door and was - rightly! - severely lectured by my doctor. Luckily I don't have kids or pets).
What I would like to know is: Is there some preparation that I can use to create a smooth surface on top of what is currently there, with only a light surface sanding of the existing paintwork to make it stick?

Re: Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?


Short of stripping or replacing the woodwork, you might try knocking down the high spots on the woodwork with sandpaper and then priming everything with an oil enamel undercoater. These are high build primers which will help fill in a lot of the imperfections. After dry, the primer can be lightly sanded, dusted, and then re-painted. An oil paint will give you additional flow out to hide more imperfections. Use a lower sheen enamel, eggshell to satin.

Re: Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?

Or get a few gallons of Bondo (yep the same thing as used on cars) to fill the nooks and crannies. You'll find it in the paint section of the big box stores or at auto repair stores.

Tacoma John
Re: Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?

Skip the bondo. In some cases it is great product to use, this is not one of them. Is so hard that you will sand into the lead paint trying to get it smooth. The dust from bondo is also a hazard since it contains fiberglass. When trying to fix small dents and imprefections I use body putty. Just be careful as to what you put it on. It will make a mess out of latex paint. Use coverstain primer, in the can, on the area you want to fix and let it dry for at least an hour then the body putty. I am guessing that you own the apt. from the amount of work you are putting into it. If this is the case, I recomnd that you replace the trim and strip the doors and casings. Use an orange paint stripper to stip the doors and jams. It will take time but it is eco friendly and you will not have the lead dust or caustic fumes. Should you decide to strip the trim too, remove them first, number them, lay them flat and have at it. My vote is for replacing the trim with MDF. It is cheap, easy to work with, and you can find it in many different profiles. To cut labor, buy a slightly taller profile than the old trim. Remember to cut the paint and caulk between the wall and trim before removing it. Sweep and wipe with wet rag to remove any paint chips created by doing this. Wash your hands before eating after doing any of this work. Good luck

Re: Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?

Before you can apply a fresh coat of paint, the previous paint must be sc****d to achieve optimum effectiveness. As the case of lead paint, it really hazardous to the health. Why not ask the professionals in your town for help. See what they think.

Re: Refinishing old paintwork without sanding?

Thanks, everyone. I don't own the place, but interior renovating is my hobby and the rent is cheap for a great part of town! I plan to stay here 5+ yrs, and the landlord is fine with his tenants repainting. I'll probably try both the Citristrip (or soy gel) and body putty depending on the condition of the paint in various places.

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