Stripping Doorframe (Stripping Trim2)

joposie8September 1, 2011

So my 1922 rowhome has wood trim throughout that has clearly been painted many, many times. The most recent time (perhaps by PO's - who were flipping this place - but not entirely sure) someone did not prime or sand, as the paint on many of my doors is chipping and/or peeling off of the old coats.

tonight I did a test area on the door and door frame molding of my basement door. I chose this door for 2 reasons, first being if I did not continue, no big deal, its just the basement. But the main reason is that the door doesn't close properly b/c the many layers of paint make it stick. I want to be able to make the door fit better without replacing the door (its a solid 5-panel door).

Before continuing, I have a bunch of questions but I'll start with these(many more after the recent other thread on Stripping Trim).

1) how do I know if there is lead paint under there? Do I assume so given the age of the house and that most of the doors/trim are original?

2) the other thread said that if you get down to wood w/o varnish then stop and do not proceed. is this true? It's so hard for me to tell when stripping through so many layers.

3) Finally, a design question. As noted above, one purpose is to improve function. but i also have design concerns. All of the trim/doors/windows has been painted white. Which is nice for brightness. if i strip this door (and potentially others) would I be foolish to just paint it white again (just doing the job right) or should I consider stain to highlight the trim.

thanks - these forums are amazing. sorry for the long post!

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Hi - I'll start, then the more experienced & educated will give you better advice.

1. YES. Assume there is a layer - or 4 - of lead based paint. There are test kits you can buy, but they only work on the exposed layers of paint. (If you test the top layer, it won't react to paint-jobs underneath). Safest bet is to assume there's lead, especially if there are children in the house.

2. Do YOU want natural woodwork? That's the question. Even if the trim wasn't "classy" stuff @ the time, doesn't mean it can't look good now. You said you did a test area - what did you see? (PICS!!). Did you like what you saw?

3. If you don't like what you uncover - paint it, sure! It's your home, make it pleasing to your eyes. You live there, you decide what YOU like & change your mind at any time. Strip, paint, all fine. Leaving it there, painted or not - for the next owners, that's the good part. :-)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 11:23PM
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Me next, I agree with ks on this--assume lead paint, but don't panic. If your main concern is stopping the doors from sticking, I'd scrape the edges to bare wood, then paint again and not worry about the other surfaces, especially since you seem to prefer painted wood.

Catch the chips and dispose of them safely--you don't need an abatement service for this simple job...just dispose of them in an approved site.

Same goes for any chipped areas which bother you--do a light sanding while wearing a mask--spray the surface first to minimize dust.

Just my two cents, I'm sure someone will jump in and call for the necessary abatement service and thousands of dollars in cash outlay. :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 1:34AM
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wear a wrist brace when stripping and sanding! I have restored another old hold and hurt my wrist years ago, it has flared its ugly head again! I have been to a hand doctor, CT scans and such.. and basically, I have an overuse injury, I've worn away the cartilage! It's finally feeling better after a cortisone shot, but I still wear the brace and it is helping!

Back to stripping.. I should be more careful, but I'm not as careful as I should be wearing masks and such... but try at times! What I have found is that in my kitchen and baths (4) they used this green, sticky primer and when I tested for read, it was positive with-in a split second. The other rooms did not have the same green primer, and when I tested, it "kinda" turned red.. so I'm not sure how much the lead really is in the other areas.

Every square inch of wood in our house (trim, doors) is cypress. It's a pretty wood, and it looks like it has always been painted from day one, as I see no varnish, and I happen to love painted wood, not stained, so I'll be repainting by choice.

90% of my house TRIM is now stripped after 3 weeks of working everyday! (using a heat gun) I will still need to tackle all the doors, and for some reason, the paint on the doors is much more difficult to remove!

Had to strip some areas of the walls too, too thick and peeling! From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 6:39AM
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Cypress is the _only_ wood I know of that you can strip thoroughly even if it was painted originally, leaving no trace of paint. It rejects all efforts by paint to gain a foothold. You're lucky, cypress is a beautiful softwood.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 8:15AM
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In addition to all of the good information above, I will add this: removing a bad paint job and replacing with a good paint job makes wood trim look a lot better. I'm doing that now and I like looking a nice crisp corners instead of paint blobs.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 8:41AM
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I have stripped the paint from two old houses. It is the only way to make trim look good after years of abuse. In some cases I have stained and finished the wood, but in others I simply primed and painted. In both situations, the results are worth the effort.

I assume that there is lead in the paint (at least the earliest layers). So it would be good to take appropriate precautions.

Having said that, a good heat gun with a continuous temperature adjustment is essential (I use a Steinel). I get almost all the paint off with the heat gun, leaving a small amount that can be sanded off. I also use dental tools to get into crevices (ask your dentist for their discards). If paint stripper is needed, the soy gels work well if there is just a small amount of residue.

The hardest parts are the window muntins. There is no easy way to get the paint off if the glass is in the window, so most folks recommend taking the windows out, removing the glass and then stripping. If you prefer not to do this, then the only way to ensure that you won't break the glass is with paint stripper, but getting into the corners and bottoms of the muntins while the windows are still in their casings is quite messy. (Note that in the above post, the windows are out. I am awed that it only took three weeks.)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 4:42PM
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"90% of my house TRIM is now stripped after 3 weeks of working everyday! (using a heat gun)"

It probably would have cone a lot faster if you had removed all the trim, pulled the nails through the back, and then stripped it on sawhorses in the garage (or yard with something underneath to collet waste).

Striping in place is a last resort.
The possibility of contamination is very high, and cleaning adequately is a real chore (think about the cracks between the floor strips).

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 12:12PM
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