Renovating and Lead Paint question...

saintpflaJune 9, 2008

Hi everyone -

I adore old, historic homes and all of their interesting architectural details.

I've been renovating my 1925 arts&crafts bungalow by myself (since none of my friends want to spend all THEIR vacation time and weekends with me doing this work!...).

It recently dawned on me that there's probably lead paint all through my house. This was after last weekend of using the hand sander and the heat gun to strip paint....nice!

Apparently, due to inhaling all the lead paint dust and from eating microscopic lead chips, I am now a bit slow to only now be having this epiphany.

I ran out to Lowes today and bought a lead swab kit. Everything it touched turned fuchia.

So, my question is, how exactly do you strip paint in order to restore without ingesting this stuff?

I have seen tons of old home lovers strip and stain and paint and restore their homes (many web sites I have in my Favorites folder are of home renovation blogs...). None of these people treated their homes like a hazmat site as all the scary lead info suggests.

Do most people simply ignore the lead paint scare and proceed forward?

My current project is to strip 5 original interior doors + 1 exterior 9-light door and all their hardware down to bare wood and stain to original color. I'm 60% done with 2 doors.

I have also stripped base board and other interior items in the house. There are 100+ layers of paint on everything in the house and it chips and flakes constantly - hence my desire to strip everything.

I have no children nor do I plan on having any. But, I do have a couple of cats who have probably been exposed to the lead as I have been.

I do not have $400 for the SPR, but plan on buying it very, very soon. I'm salivating just thinking about that tool...

So, what do most old home renovators do in order to keep renovating but not cause brain damage to themselves?

Plus, that lead paint is practically impossible to remove...grrrr! Does anyone have a method that works to remove it? Besides the $400 SPR machine, that is...

I have tried 3 different kinds of chemical strippers, heat gun and sanding. It is in every pore of the wood I am trying to restore.


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You're right to be concerned; lead paint is dangerous for everyone, not just pregnant women and children. Whenever we've had it removed from our 1910 house we've followed all the EPA guidelines, to protect ourselves, the painters doing the work, our pets, neighbors, and visiting family. I've included a publication that we've used.

Proper equipment is essential: an industrial respirator, a disposable coverall and booties, screening off the rest of the house with plastic, cleanup with a vacuum with a hepa filter plus wet mopping, etc etc. You can also use a nontoxic paint stripper. There are 2 basic types, 1 made from soy, the other from citrus.

Here is a link that might be useful: Removing Lead Paint

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 12:44AM
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I agree with everything jc said. Can you take the doors outside for the stripping? That will help, too.

For stripping the hardware, are you going to boil the pieces? That's the easiest way to remove paint from metal. But do it in a very well ventilated room.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 6:32AM
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Thanks for responding. I am nervous...I cannot believe it had never occured to me until now that there is lead paint everywhere. I guess I was so focused on the task at hand.

I have been working on the doors outside, but of course, base board, etc. has to be done inside. Every surface in the house is painted and everything that is painted is chipping.

What's the best method to remove the paint? How do you get the final remnants of paint out of the wood? Stripping only goes so far. The lead paint gets 'gummy' and does not actually come off at this stage with chemical strippers.

Kec01: thanks for the tip. I actually learned that from watching 'this old house'. It works fabulous! I bought a crock pot and I add a little fabric softner and a drop of Tide too.

It just seems to me that most home renovators ignore the lead paint prep component. I have never seen anyone take those precautions.

In fact, I grew up in a 1700's farm house and my own parents didn't take any of those precautions. I think this was before 1976 and the lead paint education.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 10:15AM
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Keep in mind that after you've stripped most of it presumably you'll repaint. You can get "encapsulating" paints that will cover up the old and protect against lead escaping from what's left. At some point it's not worth contintuing to strip, but rather it's better to cover with new paint. The exposure to lead at that point will be quite minimal.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:27AM
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You've taken on a very tedious task, not to mention the dangers as noted in the preceeding threads. Please be careful. And yeah! Do the doors outside!
I love old homes like you and have restored a few in my lifetime. Its a big job but well worth it when its' done.

Good Luck

All the best,

The PorchGuy

Here is a link that might be useful: My Album

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:46AM
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I don't want to repaint my doors - I want to strip them and then stain. While removing the original hardware, it exposed prior stained wood under the hardware. Over the years, some moron decided to paint the doors (and woodwork..grey, mint-green, puke-yellow...etc....and finally white. The white is the only latex paint.

The wood is either Heart-Pine or Cedar - it's gorgeous amber/red wood. Absolutely stunning. I do not know how to tell what kind of wood it is as my home contains both. My best guess is it is Heart-Pine as it matches the floors.

Anyway, I really want to strip and stain the doors. How do I remove the paint from the wood? Is it even necessary to remove ever bit of paint or will applying stain 'stain' the left-over paint residue to be consistent with the exposed wood?

I'm new to this and would love some pointers.

PorchGuy - I love your mahogany floor!!! Stunning. Are they replacement wood or did you strip and then stain?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 12:02PM
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Keep your animals away from loose paint chips. I don't know about cats, but we had a young dog eat paint chips when we were stripping. We knew because they appeared in vomit & we immediately took him for lead testing. The vet said he'd never seen a dog with such a high lead content. They treated him (with calcium, I think) but didn't give us high hopes for a full recovery. The prognosis turned out to be false as he lived to be almost 16 without any impairment - the national average life span of a bassset hound is 10 while ours tend to be about 12!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:34AM
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I've also heard that eating a diet high in iron and calcium helps your system resist lead absorption.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:54AM
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I too want to repaint my Craftsman Bungalow and get rid of the lead, but due to life difficulties, it is an ongoing project. I have both the Silent Paint Remover and the Paint Shaver, with the attachment to my Shop Vac to suck up the shavings into a HEPA bag. Prior to buying them, I looked into Peel Away, and used one container of it.

All these methods work--but unfortunately, your main point is true, they are expensive, and that can't really be avoided. So yes it can be done, but in my opinion, it can't be done cheaply. The only way to avoid this cost is to seal the lead paint in with a new primer/paint coat.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:02AM
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Paul, If you apply new stain without getting the old paint off, you'll have problems. What I'd do is this. When you get the doors about as clean as you can, paint a coat of shellac on the doors. Then use denatured alcohol to remove the shellac. This process, for some reason, will also bring up the last bits of paint. Then you should be ready to stain.

jc in la's suggestions in his/her original post should help with how to prep/care for the areas you are working with for baseboards, doorframes ets. You'll also have to clean/clean/clean. Are you working on only 1 room at a time? That could help as you can empty, then seal and ultimately clean one room as you are working on it.

I'd use the gel removers for stationery wood instead of scrapers. Soy-Gel/Peelaway keep the paint more confined.

If you are concerned for yourself, get yourself to the dr. and have your blood tested for lead content. There's a post now on the forums at that's discussing lead in blood.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Another way to get the last little bits of paint off before sanding (which no matter what, you will have to do) is use some steel wool soaked in mineral spirits (wear gloves) and scrub then wipe with a rag. It's a tedious process but works well.

When you do sand, close off the area with plastic, wear a mask and clean up the dust right away. After that wipe everything down with mineral spirits. This should keep the lead dust down to a minimum. I've used this method on my old house and my two little ones are lead free (I have them tested just in case).

For large areas, I rented a sander with a dust catcher and still follow the same method.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 4:58PM
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You know, I wasn't concerned about lead initially, but the more I read, the more I become concerned.

Heck...I already have trouble remembering what I need to buy at the grocery store when I get there. But, my friends just tell me that's just being 40! ;-)

As I seem to have "Home Renovation Project Induced ADD", I am working on only one segment at a time. As I mentioned before, it's just me and the cats doing the work - and, well, the cats can't hold a paint brush.

Between doing this on my own and my work demands, the weekends and vacations are my main project time.

I have been looking for PeelAway as I have seen it recommended over and over. Where exactly can you buy it? I have not seen it at Home Depot or Lowes.

So, will the shellac & denatured alcohol trick work? I know I am not the first person to want to strip paint and then stain. But, there seems to be ZERO info out there as to how to remove the residual paint that is in the pores.

I'll post some pictures later today so you all can see what I am up against.

Thanks for all the advice. I am trying to figure out how to justify spending the money on the SPR. This is a big change for me, as I used to spend that kind of money on shoes....

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:01PM
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I've bought Peel Away at the Benjamin Moore paint stores in both MN and IL. Shellac and denatured alcohol worked for me. But the mineral spirits method might work, too. I've never tried it.

Shoes vs SPR - isn't home ownership wonderful?!?!?! I've often said that in the pre-house days, I bought clothes. Now I buy light fixtures! What a trade-off!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:47PM
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It might be a good idea to go down to your local department of public health and ask for a blood test for lead. If you do have an elevated level medical intervention might be indicated.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:35PM
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Kec01...too funny! Yes, I always say the true test of knowing whether you are a grown-up or not is if you get excited over new appliances and tools.

This weekend I will be testing the denatured alcohol and also using some steel wool as well. I sure hope it works. I really want beautiful stained doors. They seem to 'pop' against white trim. From what I have seen, it seems like a common practice in the 1900s to have that style too.

Pictures still has been really busy this week.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 11:30PM
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Heat tools without a flame do not normally vaporize lead from the paint, but the residue scrapped off WILL contain lead if the paint had lead in it.
Avoiding spreading the residue around is a significant task.

In many cases it is far safer (and actually easier) to remove the painted trim, strip it in a controlled place, then re-install it.

Cats cannot taste 'sweetness' so they are not going to be attracted to the lead acetate (AKA 'sugar of lead') that is the main source of lead in paint.

Dogs CAN taste sweetness, and WILL be attracted to the residue. It does not take much for a smaller animal like a dog to get a large dose.

While moderately dangerous to anyone, lead is not nearly as hazardous to adults as children who are still developing their nervous system.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:39PM
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saintpfla, try not to flip out too much about the lead. We didn't think about it much at first either. We had a contractor working on the house. After he started making jokes about the lead (he took no precautions with himself or his crew, mind you), I started reading all the EPA stuff and almost freaked out. As soon as we could, we got a lead survey of the whole house done. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad. According to the the experts, those test kits at Lowe's and Home Depot aren't very reliable.

We are not stripping much of the woodwork since I like it painted white. But we are having to do a lot of work on the plaster walls.

We have several cats. According to what I have read, cats are very susceptible since they constantly groom themselves. If lead dust is on them, they eat it. I'm not trying to scare you, but you might want to get your kitties tested by a vet.

Also, according to what I read and what the lead testing engineer we hired said, pets, children, and women of child bearing age are most susceptible to lead poisoning. (Child bearing age women because of possible harm to an unborn baby.) It takes more exposure to harm adults. Adults are bigger and don't absorb the poison as easily as children do. Malnourished people are also more susceptible.

If you're worried, get your house and/or yourself and your cats tested. Be as careful as you can be. Lead is dangerous; however, if you read a lot of EPA info and don't really know how much lead you're dealing with, you might be freaking out unnecessarily.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:59PM
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"According to the the experts, those test kits at Lowe's and Home Depot aren't very reliable."

Exactly what experts?

The main problem with the simple lead test kits (break the glass ampule and wipe on the surface) is that they MAY miss lead that is present but that the indicator solution cannot make contact with.
They rarely give 'false positives' that would indicate lead when none is present.
If the indicator turns pink their is lead present.
The sensitivity may lead to alarm that is unwarranted (they turn on metallic lead that is not really much of a hazard).

Gamma florescence testing can detect lead that is buried under layers of other paint, and do not cause any damage to the surface.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 10:27PM
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brickeyee: "...While moderately dangerous to anyone, lead is not nearly as hazardous to adults as children who are still developing their nervous system..."

I'd go along with that. The guy from our state environment department was a lot more adamant about the well-established dangers of radon in the home than the association between either lead or asbestos and disease in humans. People are overly concerned about lead and asbestos but never test for and deal with radon.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 10:14AM
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Yes, the lead research I've been reading has freaked me out a little.

I have to reading lots of renovators blogs which include photos, I don't see anyone creating a hazmat environment while they strip the paint. I'm not saying that it's the 'right' way to do it, but it doesn't seem like many renovators are overly concerned about it.

I'm also not trying to diminish anyone who has been impacted by lead paint poisoning. All I know is, I grew up in an old house that was being renovated which had lead paint. I've lived in lots of old houses with lead paint and live in one now.

I just do not know how serious to respond to my current lead-infested home. It's everywhere...paint is chipping everywhere in the house. Other than re-painting everything on top of 80 years of paint - which will look like crap - I don't see that I have many options other than to do the best I can.

In this pic, you can see the two doors I am working on. The one on the saw horses is the interior door. The 9-light door in the background is an exterior door which will become my front door when it's completed.

These are from when I started. Now, all the paint is removed except for that annoying remaining paint in all the wood pores. So, I am stuck for the moment.

Pictures below:

Here's why I want to strip it and then stain it. Look at this gorgeous wood color that was underneath the hardware. Why people thought painting it mint green, then grey then white was a good idea, I'll never know.

9-light front door in process:

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 12:33PM
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You need to have a full up lead survey performed.
The longest term use of lead was lead acetate (AKA 'sugar of lead') as a drying agent and gloss improver. It DOES taste sweet, thus the very old name and the hazard.

It was NOT used in 'flat' wall paint.

Lead acetate containing paints also were expensive.
They did not see a lot of use outside of higher end houses.

Lead based pigments disappeared a very long time ago (think civil war).

Trim may have lead containing paint, and another common spot was closets.
A coat of gloss paint was often put there to create a nice smooth surface that could not hold dust like flat paint.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 5:14PM
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Did you try the shellac/denatured alcohol or mineral spirits/steel wool methods yet?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I did try the denatured alcohol with a nylon brush. It did remove some of the paint and made it sort of 'granualar-ish'. It's been raining here for most of the weekend so I wasn't able to spend as much time as I wanted.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 5:35PM
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I am glad you posted pictures of your doors, because I am amazed that for all your concern about lead you aren't using dropcloths underneath to contain the lead-contaminated debris. No matter how carefully you work there is always the likelyhood that dust and chips evade your attention and will fall to the ground and contaminate your soil. Please don't consider working again without dropcloths underneath. You can easily contaminate soil with lead chips and then continually track it back in to your house. If you're working in a breeeze the stuff can blow around, too. If the lead chips get in the soil it can render it unfit for growing food.

I lived in a constantly under renovation, 1840-ish house with considerable lead contamination issues. We routinely have our blood tested (so far so good) and our cats as well.

I suggest you try using some SoyGel stripper (avail online from Franmar and the Real Milk Paint Co). It's quite effective and not unpleasant and dangerous to breathe like the solvents you're working with. From what I can see of yout pictures, I would expect SoyGel to do a better removal job than what you're getting, with less debris. Be sure to give it time to work (cover in plastic to prolong working period.)

Also keep in mind that some older woodwork that is painted is that way because it is of lower quality. The affection we have for stripped wood is in some cases historically inappropropriate.

You might find taking a lead-safe work practice class will help you develop confidence in your reno projects.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 12:01PM
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Molly - thanks for the tips. I will certainly consider your suggestions.

As I mentioned in my first post, I had not really given the lead factor a thought when I began. The chips, etc. have been cleaned up since and I now use a drop cloth.

As for growing food, I'm not too concerned as I tend to container garden anything veggie-wise and my neighborhood is not zoned for farming.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 9:20PM
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There is a safe way to do this without spending a fortune (notice I didn't say its inexpensive, but no old house renovation is). We had our houses tested through a lead inspection company before moving in, determine where the lead was and deciding whether to remove or cover over various areas. One stripper we used that is great is Multi Strip -- its a gel/paste type that has an awful smell, but won't force you to run out of the room for air. You DO NOT want to sand or use a heat gun -- very dangerous with lead paint. Use the stripper and it takes it off. (Cover floors with layers of plastic and newspapers, as it will eat through wood floor finishes, etc.). Just use common sense -- use a mask or respirator when doing it for long periods. Use blue booties so you don't track it around. Clean the floors regularly -- that's where all the lead dust settles. (If you had kids in the house I would tell you to be more careful). Keep cats out...Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:25PM
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Looks like you are pretty far along with the stripping process... but if you have more stripping to start, or for anyone else who has the desire to strip all the paint off, I'll share what we did. We live in a 1913 bungalow and luckily most of the wood work was never painted. We also have heart pine and prefer the stained wood. So, we wanted all the multiple layers of paint removed from the woodwork in the rooms with painted wood work. We removed the doors and all the trim and took them (little by little) to a Dip 'n Strip company. We had to go to a metro area for it, but as I said we took it a little at a time. Doors were about $80 each and trim was priced by the foot. Did not seem too expensive to us, the wood work came back immaculate and we did not have to worry about lead at all. We stained it and we think it looks beautiful. Just an option some people may wish to know about.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 5:36PM
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Circus Peanut

I have just finished stripping miles of white-lead-painted trim in my 1922 bungalow (douglas fir).

Your mileage may vary, but I invested the $$ in a Silent Paint Remover only to find it inappropriate for this particular job. The heating process of the infrared method creates quite a lot of fumes that are decidedly unpleasant and of dubious health risk. Even despite a high-quality dual filtering mask and following all manufacturer's instructions to the letter, there was a terrible smell. For me, this was unacceptable for the amount of time and work required. (Plus, the SPR really only works best on flat surfaces, not any crown, ogee, etc.) (However, I can say that the SPR was fabulous for removing the tarry gunk under the old kitchen floor linoleum.)

Instead, to strip paint, I went with PeelAway 7, which is not cheap at about $60/gallon bucket, plus extra stripping paper. I purchased buckets of it at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and California Paints.

We experimented and found the most effective PeelAway7 method to be: coat the stuff on, paper it over, and tape all edges of the paper with painter's or masking tape. It's highly effective and removes the lead without exposing you to any dust or fumes. The trick is to make sure that it doesn't dry out, thus the tape. It's a gloppy awful process, and you MUST protect all surfaces that might even remotedly get spatted when you start scraping it off, but boy howdy, it really does get off the paint.
If you have one or more layers of latex in there, you might need more than one cycle of PeelAway, since it can bubble the latex right off leaving the remaining layers dry. Just scrape off the latex, and recoat again.

As to the remaining bits of paint that are deeply engrained in the wood, try the above methods (spirits, denatured alcohol, shellac, etc). I went for sanding it down by hand, which took forever but the results are outstanding.

The house staged before I purchased it:

What it looks like now, about 2/3 ready to move in:

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 7:23AM
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Circuspeanut - that's just beautiful! Is the um..don't know what you call it, strip of wood a foot down from the ceiling something from the period? What did you use for it? Really sets your wood details off nicely. Also - what color is on the walls?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 3:41PM
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CircusPeanut -- THANK YOU for describing your process!! I really appreciate any other pointers you may have from someone who has taken on this task.

One did you remove the paint&residue when the stripper time was up? Do you just use 18 rolls of paper towels to remove the goop? I wouldn't think you could not wash it with water unless you did it outside?
Just wondering if you have some tip for the part of the process.

Your 'before' pic looks exactly like my house does now.

All I can say is "wow!" to your 'after' pic. It's gorgeous! The wood in my home is cedar and heart pine (I think...).

I have not been able to find PeelAway7 anywhere in my part of Florida yet. I'll go online to HD's site to see if I can puchase it there. If not, I'll call the company directly to see if I can purchase it in Florida.

Thanks so much for the suggestions and for sharing your pictures!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 9:27PM
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Circus Peanut

Thank you so much! It's been a labor of love with probably little return other than emotional for the time investment (since so few folks really appreciate or care about the original wood per se, and it's just a modest little bungalow, nothing fancy), but I'm very happy with it.

The picture rail is just something I added for some interest and because I was itching to do two-tone paint in the dining room. I found some old douglas fir trim at a salvage yard and we planed it and cut it down to fit. I finished it the same way as the rest of the original wood -- boiled linseed oil, then amber shellac with a topcoat of satin poly.

As to the stripping process - whew! Get out your dirtiest old clothes and sneakers, get a pair of good-quality stripping gloves that go up to your elbows, eye protection just in case, and stock up a supply of old cardboard.

We covered the floors in painter's rosin paper (the big red rolls you can get at the paint store or big box). Then I protected the area I was working on with a sheet or two of cardboard on the floor as well -- this worked kind of like a catchall for the glop. I used paper towels (get the blue Scott shop towels, they're a lot more useful), but mostly the glop comes off in big heavy wet chunks, and you have all the PeelAway paper and tape to dispose of too, so the cardboard is ideal:

It's disgusting and messy and the stuff gets everywhere - make sure to have a change of footwear for when you leave the "stripping zone"! Here's that same room midway through:

Use a plastic scraper to actually scrape the stuff off - it's too easy to damage the wood with the metal kind while it's still a bit wet from the stripper. Later, you will thank yourself if you get a nice carbide scraper like a Bahco/Sandvik that has a little triangle blade.

Once the main glop was off, the hard part began - as you know, getting all those little remaining bits off is really difficult. I used denatured alcohol to get the rest of the original shellac varnish off, wiping it down then wiping it off again and again with damp rags. (PeelAway7 does not require any kind of special post-strip neutralizer.) Then I sanded, sanded, and sanded some more. Also spent a lot of time with dental picks -- Ace hardware sells a nice set in their store brand -- and the aforementioned small carbide scraper.

Somewhere I have a bunch of detailed pictures; I can post some of those if they'll answer any more questions. Very happy to help! :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:15AM
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Circus Peanut

Whoops - oh yes, the colors - we experimented a lot, since my original choices didn't work with the orangey-ness of the fir. Wound up with Benjamin Moore's Buttered Yam on the bottom, Sherwin Williams' Hubbard Squash on top and ceiling. A slightly better pic:

(those copper rolls you see in the photo are this week's mad project: creating our own copper kitchen countertops...)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:29AM
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CircusPeanut - you have done a fantastic job. It looks beautiful.

My fireplace has 8000 layers of paint on all the brick as well. I think PeelAway might be a good solution for that removal process as well.

Thanks again for sharing your process. I learn so much from people out here.

Good luck with your copper project...I bet that will look beautiful once it is done.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 8:55PM
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#1, Don't freak out.

As many have pointed out, the trouble really is with children.

You could have the cat tested, just in case. Dust settles on Fluffy, or Fluffy hides from the fuss on the windowsill. Fluffy grooms. It's not an issue of what the stuff tastes like -- Fluffy is a big Swiffer. If the cat's lead level is too high, there are things they can do to bring it down.

Cleaning up dust and chips is important, wiping down surfaces. Encapsulating is good too.

As with anything, you can start to See Lead Everywhere and it can overwhelm you. Lead is bad -- I'm not brushing it off. But lead is not new. Virtually everyone I grew up with lived in a construction zone for years as their parents fixed up their old houses room by room in our historic district. There was no epidemic of illnesses or mental problems. A few weeks or months of exposure won't kill you. (Though knowing what we all know now I wouldn't have a child playing in half-scraped rooms like we used to, brushing chips off our toys!)

The EPA has advice, but it will probably freak you out.

It sounds like this peel-off stripper traps the stuff instead of sending it into the air. This sounds like a reasonable precaution. As long as you treat the waste as HAZARDOUS WASTE and don't throw it out with the trash! But you should do that with solvents anyway. Call your local waste disposal authority to find out how they want you to dispose of this stuff.

And it actually looks like the stuff works, which is amazing. I've refinished a lot of furniture and wouldn't attempt a paint-to-stain transformation on circuspeanut scale. That's really beautiful!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 5:46PM
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Thanks, Growlery! You childhood and mine sounds very similar!

I have not gone back to work on any more paint removing projects as I am trying to purchase PeelAway. It's odd that I cannot find it anywhere local.

Thanks for your tips!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:34AM
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In Orlando, Florida.....I buy mine at the local Sherwin-Williams paint store.........

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 6:37AM
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And here we are ... all grown up. Only moderately demented.

Just enough to buy old houses and do it all over again!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 11:37AM
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Circus Peanut

Ain't it the truth, Growlery ....

SaintP, have you tried all your local paint stores for PeelAway 7? I had never heard of the stuff until my boyfriend, a former finish painter, talked me into it. They make a number of formulations and I bet one or more of them will work well on your brick. Although I shudder at the thought of stripping painted brick ... miles of wooden trim and doors have sufficed me for a good long while.

Slap on the PeelAway, cover with the paper, tape the paper tightly on any edges, and let it sit overnight.

(That shot of your door, way above in this thread, actually looks very similar to the Douglas Fir of mine -- just something to check out for verification, not that any of the species is more glorious than another.)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 1:02PM
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I'm going to try the local Sherwinn Williams for PeelAway - thanks for the tip!

CircusPeanut - honestly, I have no idea what kind of wood. What makes me believe it is either heat-pine or cedar is that was the most common building material in the south in the late 1800s thru early 1900s. I do know that my wood floors are heart-pine for sure.

Also, good news...neither me or my cats have any lead paint poisoning issues. We've all been checked and we are fine.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 3:21PM
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I do not want to add to your worries. Although lead paint is a definite hazard and difficult and expensive to remove, you need also to make sure you do not have any exposed asbestos in the house. We did in an old house that we sold many years ago. Because the pipes in the cellar were insulated with asbestos, the house did not pass inspection. We had to pay $1500 to have it professionally removed. If asbestos is not exposed it is much less of a problem, in fact no problem at all, as long as it is not disturbed. In the mid-1980s they stopped using asbestos in flooring -- no more vinyl asbestos floors. If you have old vinyl floors, you may have a problem because you will need to have it removed profesionally by specialists who know how to remove it and discard it safely.

Old houses are charming and very special, but they do cause grief sometimes.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 7:34PM
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I'm glad to hear you and the cats are fine.

If you are still having trouble finding Peelaway, I have never had a store refuse to order a product for me, unless it was easier and cheaper to do it from home over the computer and they were doing me a favor.

Good luck with the renovation. Don't stop for too long. Sanity will set in.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:21PM
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Well, I know that some of my decorative shingles at my roof-line are asbestos -- but, I did not realize that old vinyl floors were a concern too. I do not have any flooring exposed but was planning on removing the kitchen tile which is on top of 2-3 vinyl floor layers -then the wood floor is beneath.

All my plumbing was updated prior to my buying the house.

Always something to freakin' think about....ugh....

I've been so busy at work that I have not had time to order PeelAway but plan on doing so.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 11:50AM
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We've been stripping paint in our 1912 house for over a year and have nearly finished all the woodwork in the house.

We own the Silent Paint Remover and didn't like it. It was bulky and didn't work that well on anything but the big flat parts. I was much more happy using an inexpensive heat gun and good profile scrapers.

When we stripped paint in our house we stripped off as much as we could with the heat gun and then we did a second pass with one of the wicked chemical strippers to get almost all the rest of the paint off. (I didn't have all day to wait for the eco-strippers, though I did try them.) The paint came off in chunks and could be easily swept up and discarded safely.

Only after I had stripped virtually all the paint, would I sand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Laurelhurst Craftsman

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 11:03PM
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With adequate ventilation (outdoors is preferred) the methylene chloride (MC) strippers still work better than anything else.

I routinely remove trim fr stripping, and cannot remember the last time a piece was damaged by removal.

It just takes a lot of patience and gentle prying.

If you cover MC stripper with plastic wrap (I use the wider thicker food service grade) it slows evaporation enough to remove MANY layers of finish in a single application.

The cheap plastic drywall knives have been a boon (I used to purchase plastic sheets (PVC) and shape them and then drill a hole to use on a cabinet scrapper handle in place of the metal blade).

You can even cut them to shape for molding patterns (used more like a scrapper at 90 degrees than a 'knife' at a lower angle).

Sawdust is also great for rubbing away softened paint (clay type kitty litter works if you do not have a lot of sawdust).

MC is hazardous to folks that may have compromised blood circulation to the heart.
It behaves much like carbon monoxide and ties up the ability of heme on your blood to carry oxygen.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 4:44PM
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I have been using Smart Strip (the safer version of Peel Away). I have to let it sit for ~12 hours and sometimes have to apply twice (to cut through 5-8 layers of paint), but I have been pretty satisfied with it.

I have been stripping paint for 1.5 years, using chemical strippers, wearing a respirator as I work, and cleaning up when I am done. I had my lead levels tested a few months ago, and my levels were still too low to even register on the test. So apparently our preventative measures have worked.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:16AM
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