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Stripping woodwork

My home was built in 1947. The woodwork has been painted throughout the house. I don't mind the kitchen and bathroom but the living room and bedrooms need some help. The paint is chipping and it looks sloppy. I am wondering what I should do strip it or replace it. I have stalled this project for 11 years now. If I strip what should I use?

Re: Stripping woodwork

Same thing in my 1935 house. Somethings were painted, others not. The doors were left but all mouldings were painted (and the previous owner didn't sand first so it was all peely!

Since my woodwork was pine, I opted to replace. I hand picked my boards to get a good grain, used minwax English Chestnut stain, and semi-gloss poly.

This is my first house and I'm learning everything as I go along. One thing that never occurred to me before starting was that finding a square corner was impossible! The previous boards had warped along with the house, but trying to retro fit new straight boards to crooked corners is difficult! Nonetheless, mine look great and I'm quite pleased.

Back to your house, I would replace if they are not "historically significant" and ornate. Especially if they're pine and not oak. Here are some shots of mine...

If you replace (or take off old to strip) this tool is your friend:

This area was not square in the slightest bit so I fixed it!

Take off the old

Cutting new boards for this vent was kinda tricky for a first-timer ;)

Re: Stripping woodwork

Sorry for a second post, apparently it only lets you post 6 pics at a time.

Here are a couple others...the stained wood is all new lumber that I finished and put in. (plain pine) The nail holes had not been filled yet in this picture. For what it's worth, its amazing how nice pine can look if you pay close attention to the grain of the boards you pick out and sand it nice and smooth.

And a shameless plug for the transformation of my living room!



Re: Stripping woodwork


Stripping is an extremely time consuming, messy and not inexpensive operation. In an occupied house, it is also stinky. Further, you need a warm work space for the strippers to work properly. Unless your woodwork is of an irreplaceable style, I would consider replacing it, especially if you have decent carpentry skills and possess a power miter saw and pneumatic nailer. If you intend to go back to natural woodwork rather than painted, I would definitely replace it. It is extremely difficult to get painted woodwork clean enough to accept stain well.

Should you decide to strip, I have found the old caustic types to be the most effective. Unfortunately, not all brands are equally effective on all types of paint. It is kind of hit and miss to find the best one. I always kept several brands in my shop so that I could experiment.

If you are considering retaining painted woodwork, you might consider a really good paint job. This entails significant sanding of chips and filling of nicks to achieve a reasonably smooth surface. Follow the preparation with a complete priming of the woodwork with an oil enamel undercoater. Oil undercoater has better "build" and will help hide imperfections and "ropeyness" of past paint jobs. Sand the undercoater with fine sandpaper. Finish coat with an low sheen oil enamel. Oil enamel levels itself and dries harder than latex paints. For years I used Benjamin Moore's Satin Impervo as my primary coating for fine woodwork.

Re: Stripping woodwork

Thanks for the advice. I will definitely consider replacing.

Re: Stripping woodwork

To answer the original question. I would suggest first and foremost to use a heat gun. The other posters are correct, using a chemical stripper is expensive and time consuming. However, if you can get the majority of the paint off with a heat gun is is far cheaper than replacing. We use the heat gun on all of the flat molding and take off as much as we can with the detailed molding. This does leave behind specks of paint. Since we have shellac under the paint, we rub it down with alcohol and that gets almost all of the paint specks left behind by the heat gun. With a good final cleaning with alcohol it is then ready to be finished, because we are using shellac as the new finish. I am not sure if this creates the most durable finish but then again shellac is fairly easy to repair. For detailed trim pieces and things that can not be disassembled; like panel doors, we resort to paint stripper. We always start with the heat gun but you just can not do a good job on corners. I would say we stripped an entire room, including both sides of two five-panel doors with a heat gun, one gallon of alcohol (not including the beer) and one quart of stripper. This cost about $50-$60 dollars.

A couple tips
Just replace the quarter round. Even I can not justify the time vs price.

A lot of this is easier if you are able to use tinted/ garnet shellac. It does two things one it acts as a stain because the other posters are correct to get an even stain you would have to sand to bare wood. If you just want to darken the trim it is a very simple way to do it. Plus if you miss a few specks of paint it tints those as well unlike stain which in my experience tends not to.

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