Personally, I believe that, among the many, many common chores in the world of home renovation, there are few that are as undesireable as stripping paint. When tasks are being assigned, when the priority list is being written up, when people are volunteering for specific jobs, the paint stripping seems to fall by the wayside, selectively forgotten.
At the same time, stripping layers from beautiful wood can be among the most satisfying of chores. Many of the old homes have lovely, intricately-carved trim that has been covered with one finish after another, and in some cases, the multiple layers have filled in the carving, evening the surface of the trim, or almost so. That’s the kind of project that can be especially rewarding–unearthing beautiful craftsmanship.
There are many different methods of stripping paint, varnish, laquer, etc. Different finishes require different removal methods, for the most part, although there are some systems that can handle the whole gammut. From chemicals to heat to elbow grease, many different removal methods will work, but there are pros and cons for each, and some are just plain more effective than others.
One option for stripping the paint off furniture or trim is a heat gun. There are heat guns specifically designed for this use–they look something like hair dryers but blow less air, at much higher temperatures! The heat generally melts the paint so it can be scooped off fairly easily. Obvious drawbacks are the danger of burning the material being stripped, as well as burning the operator of said gun. Another drawback I experienced was having the paint re-adhere as it cooled, if I didn’t get it off quickly enough.
The other main stripping system is plain ol’ elbow grease–scraping and sanding to remove the finish. This system works well when the paint is already flaking, peeling, and generally falling off, itself. Also, if there’s only one layer of finish, and you’re working on a small area, the scraping and/or sanding may do the trick more simply than the other methods.
My personal favorite is a low-odor, environmentally-conscious stripping material (California-friendly, even!) that comes in several levels of strenght, from one layer to several. The “several” level is the one that I prefer, since I think it’s hard to know, for sure, exactly how many layers there are, at any given point in the area being stripped. The specific line that I recommend is a gel consistency. To use it, you brush it onto the surface to be stripped, as evenly as possible, without going overboard. Once the area is covered, you leave it for some period of time–I usually went with twenty-four hours, working on the trim after work each evening–then scoop the stripper off with the now-loosened paint. This product has an after-spray that works very well to wipe the residue off, although water and a little elbow grease do about as well. Most recently, we used this stripper in a 100-year-old house, on trim that had at least seven layers. Among other things, a major benefit of this product is that there’s no dust and very little odor about which to worry. Even when it was being used in a lived-in bedroom, there was no problem. There are many chemical preparations designed to strip paint and other finishes, but all the others I’ve used had much stronger odors and didn’t work nearly as well.
If you’re remodeling a home in Rockville, Maryland, contact D.R. Hartman Construction, Inc. for information regarding their services. Their website is www.HartmanCanBuild.com. They offer a no-obligation quote to help you get ideas for how this Germantown, Maryland general contractor may be able to make your home renovation in Maryland a more pleasant experience.