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Stripping old front door

I'm stripping the paint off our 75+ year old front door (appears to be red oak). There are surprisingly few layers of paint (I see only four) and all but one are coming off fairly easily with the heat gun. The original paint (which may be a primer [it's white]) is sticking like glue. Ten years ago I did a door of a similar age and used one of those chemical strippers with good result, but I've read too much at this point about carcinogens and would like to say away from that. I've tried a citrus stripper, which is helping, but it is really arduous and the door is getting pretty beaten up with the number of times I've scraped it. I'm concerned about overdoing it with the heat gun, which has already scorched the door in more places than I'd like (I'm hoping that a good sanding with erase my overzealousness).

Any thoughts on alternative methods of removal? Any insight on whether a good respirator would be sufficient if I decide to go with the scary chemical stripper?

Re: Stripping old front door

Perhaps taking the door outside and use a chemical stripper may be a better solution.... there would be less concern for fumes outdoors.

To be honest .... while there may be concern as to toxicity for some chemical paint strippers .... there is also concern for using a heat gun on paint that contains lead ..... which may be the case for a 75 year old door.

Re: Stripping old front door

Considering the age of the door, there's a good possibility that the first layer is milk paint. It will not come off with a heat gun and turns to gum with most strippers. Go to http://www.realmilkpaint.com/ and get their milk paint remover.

Re: Stripping old front door

Well, I just spent last weekend stripping and sanding both my solid wood dorrs to my bathroom. I used stripper. It wasn't flammable so I don't know if that changes anything but I took the doors off the hinges, outside on sawhorses, and lathered them in stripper. Didn't use a mask or anything and my brain seems to be ok. :)
I started out with a heat gum with my first stripping job and I thought of all the electricity I was using and wasting and decided the stripper was better and faster. Go for it. Especially in intricate areas, even this old house mag, says to use strippers.
ANd think about your time. I did two doors (stripped both sides and sanded both sides) in two days. :)
As far as lead is concerned...My home is 113 years old but I had the paint tested with a test from Menards and it wasn't lead based. Just coz the door or house is that old, doesn't mean that it hasn't been painted since then. So then you can strip it and throw the paint in the garbage. :)

Re: Stripping old front door

Update--:) Thanks for the input. I found a furniture restoration company which stripped the door for me. They used heavy duty stripper, which removed almost all of what paint was lead. They told me it was lead paint. It took them a couple of hours and I had my door back about 4 hours later. Wish I had located this company before I invested 20+ hours into it with a heat gun! The door was a bit swollen at first, but is returning to its original shape and looks amazing. The only downside is that they had to strip the entire door, which means that the interior side, which was painted, is now stripped. It looks beautiful and I am thinking of leaving it au natural and sealing it.

Re: Stripping old front door

I would recommend using a paint scraper. Purchase a couple paint scrapers of different sizes with carbide blades in them and with a little practice I guarantee the paint will come off. I live in a house that was built in 1840's and have had the same problem with trying to strip paint with chemicals and heat and I now always just use a paint scraper. It takes a little practice and some muscle power but once you get to it the paint comes flying off. A little sanding and your ready to paint.

J Roper
Re: Stripping old front door

Forget the chemicals and heat gun. Google "silent paint remover".
Read what it says and it's true ! I used one for the first time about 4 years ago and its the easiest way to remove layers of old paint in one pass. It will strip an area the size of a showbox every 30 seconds, clean to the wood. In the corners and details of the door you will need a variation of tools to reach tight places.

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