01 December, 2009

Cheap Heat Gun and a $3.95 Scraper -- The Best Wood Stripping Tools

These pictures are really for me more than you. As far as stripping projects go, it's not too impressive, so far. But if you knew how many environmental-friendly (and not-so-friendly) strippers I tried, without success, you'll understand how I nearly wept with joy to see the paint peel right off the bathroom trim with a $20 heat gun. The first four or five layers came right off. Look how thick the paint is.

The last layer--the brutal fleshy peach--comes off with the cheap-o scrapper I bought at Home Depot for $3.95. I'm irritated that I wasted money on The Silent Paint Remover, even if it was second hand. Back on Craigslist that unwieldy monster will go.

Of course, the process does stink to high heaven; the old paint contains lead and it's critical you wear a mask rated for lead and keep the windows open for continual ventilation when using a heat gun. And you have to be careful to move quickly and not scorch the wood. 

We're actually working on the entryway at the same time as the bathroom. When you enter our unit, you are greeted with five doors going off in various directions, six if you count the one you just came through. One of them is the bathroom. As long as I'm stripping the trim on the bathroom door, I'm doing it all. I don't know what some previous owner did to bugger it so badly, but this is what the trim looks like in the entryway (at least it's not painted).

Yup, every single door and frame is bubbly and peeling. (The upstairs unit, thank goodness, does not have the same problem.) We tried various means to fix it, from rubbing it with denatured alcohol to sanding it with a hand sander. The first method didn't really work, creating more of a sticky mess than anything, the second method was tedious and slow. So I tried the $3.95 scraper, and voila! Success.

So successful, that in about an hour I had managed to scrape about 20 feet of trim. The bubbly stuff comes right off, and I'll be able to sand and refinish with (relative) ease.

Of course, there are still still six door frames to do, seven if you count the middle arch.

And the doors themselves? That's next summer's problem. I mean project.


Karen Anne said...

That's a really nice looking entryway, though.

The woodwork in my old bungalow had a cracked finish like that. My guess is it was the original finish from the 1920s. I never got to trying anything on it.

Lady Quilter said...

Looks like the crack and bubbled finish on the wood may happened when the varnish was applied before the stain had a chance to completely dry. Who knows, maybe the work was done on a hot humid day, rainy weather, don't know. All I know is Joanne found a great way to take care of the problem. All I know is the previous owners lived with this mess for years but it can be fixed.

Boxhouse Mom

Sharon Kwilter said...

Wow, thanks for the info about the Silent Paint Remover. I've been thinking about buying one for our new house. Did it not work at all? Or just not as well as the $20 heat gun?

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