CEFreemanMay 10, 2011

Got your attention?

Well, it's just doors, not ladies. :)

Anyway, I am stripping some old doors I got at a reuse center.

I'm using a nice Easy Strip (or something) that causes the first coat to bubble up right away. It's pretty cool.

However, the under coats are a bit softened, but if the stripper dries, I can't get it off. I've been putting more on.

Now, I have parts that are down to the bare wood and some that still have the layers on them.

Can I continue to apply the stripper, layer by layer, or will it damage the bare wood?

What a PIA I've gotten myself into! I thought I'd just sand it off, but the layers defy my 6 different sanders. [sigh] Stripper it is.


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Sanding is an extremely poor way to strip paint (or other finish),
- You will go through a LOT of sandpaper (and thus time and $)
- You will not completely remove the finish, opening yourself up to uneven staining (should that be your directions)
- You run a real risk of gouging or sanding through veneer
- It's almost impossible to sand in little concave areas, details, etc.
- You destroy any patina on finished wood
- You obliterate fine details

Need I go on?

I am not familiar with "Easy Strip" or whatever. But 90%+ of the strippers out there are methylene chloride. It is a great stripper, but take health precautions (protective eyewear, gloves, respiration and/or breeze). Since most use the same chemical and MC is quite heavy, just pick up the can that seems to weigh the most.

There are a few finishes that don't strip well, if at all. Milk Paint and 2K finishes are among them, but I doubt that you have either.

Mostly, it's just a matter of giving the MC the time to work. Also having it warmer helps. But it does evaporate quickly. A solution to this is to put on a thick layer of stripper, wrap immediately with sheet plastic (garbage bags work, too), and letting it work for an hour or so. Then peel back the plastic as you scrape off the goo.

It also sometimes works to rinse a stripped surface with acetone or lacquer thinner and a Scotch-Brite pad to get rid of the hangers-on.

Let it dry thoroughly, and lightly sand with 220 paper. Only enough to remove roughness.

Then you should be good to go.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 1:09PM
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Easystrip is one of the new generation of strippers IIRC it relies on some kind of citrus solvent to work. They are slower than M/C kinds, and more prone to drying out. You are advised to use a thick layer of stripper (apply with a putty knife to an 1/8" thickness) and cover with visqueen (6 mil plastic) while it works. You can leave this until the very lowest layer is dissolved. Cleaning this stuff up is the real nightmare for me, as there is no way to get the dissolved pigment out of the pores of the wood. Not so bad if it's cypress, really tragic if it's oak. Varying difficulty in between those extremes.
IMO it's excellent product if you have any aversion to strong chemical smells; it does a great job of containing lead contamination, because the offending element is trapped in the moist goo; it's marginal at best if you want to return to a clear finish. The wood will look white/pickled in almost all cases. If you need to get rid of multiple coats of paint to restore the original look of the details and are going to paint again, it's a very smart choice.
If the wood has had paint on it from the beginning, it's no worse a choice than any other.
If the wood was originally varnished/shellacked, you can do much better, faster, with a heat gun and not have the paint/pore problem.
Heat gun + methylene chloride stripper as a rinse is capable of the very best results, because there is minimal paint left to be forced into the pores; by the time the liquid hits the wood, there's only a little varnish there to be dealt with. But the lead consequences are much higher in potential, so more care must be taken.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:24AM
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Well, heat stripper is out.
I wouldn't know how to do this and have a fire phobia, so ...

I'm going to try bobsmyuncle technique first, just to see how deep I can get into the paints. It's sunny here, so I think I'll also do it outside with black plastic on it. A little extra heat.

As for the pores, I guess my final treatment will be dictated by how well the paint removes!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:30AM
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I've never stripped with MC strippers, but have gone through gallons of EZ Way, for which I do, however, endorse the plastic wrap technique. EZWay (I suspect similar to Kutzit, but I could be wrong) -dipped shop towels, laid over the surface then wrapped in plastic, to be precise. In fact, maybe that's what you're using? It evaporates fast, so to get it through more layers, you do have to wrap, and often repeat. Just wet and wrap a smallish area at a time, and only uncover what you can scrape pretty quick.

I actually just did a door. It had gapped a little so to really get into the corners I actually removed some of the panel trim (verrrry carefully) and stripped the pieces separately.

EZWay won't damage wood, has excellent penetration into wood pores (you just have to keep wiping...), and doesn't require any water or other thinner for clean-up.

Heat gun is cheap and really quite easy, and I have a fire phobia too so I'm beyond cautious. I don't strip paint with it as I hate the smell (also have a lead phobia), but I used it to remove some dried glue a while back. I'd consider it for a small job done outdoors. You can be careful enough - and also, if you're working outdoors, not so bad.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:17PM
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KarinL, are you dipping shop towels in more stripper?

I am going to try something that has fewer paint layers, first.

and, I'm going to try the plastic bag thing.

I'll keep you posted!

Boy, it sure looks easier on TV.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Heating it can be accomplished by sitting out a can in the sun for a while or sitting in a pot of hot water.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:01PM
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The dipped towels are how I apply the stripper, I don't paint or spray it on other that that, at least hardly. In the later stages I dip a toothbrush into stripper and scrub with that, or I just wipe with the dipped towels to get the last bits of colour off. I think it actually goes scraper, 3M stripping pads, toothbrush, towel wipe. Although it is messy - part of the piece is sometimes at one stage, part at another.

For a piece of molding, I lay out my plastic first (cut-open and cleaned garden soil bags, or any large clear plastic bags) and put my molding on that. Then I dip and lay the towels along the molding, and then wrap the plastic up around the piece. With EZWay I leave that for about an hour, but different strippers, different weather, the time for best results will vary. I'll sometimes repeat the wrapping a couple of times before all the layers are defeated on the whole piece.

I actually worked out a good method for the edges of my door. With the door lying across two sawhorses, I dipped shop towels and hung them off the edge (one edge at a time). Then I used those plastic big plastic shop clips to clip a layer of plastic tightly over the towels. After leaving that for a while, I was able to pretty much scrape the whole edge of the door in one go, in addition to going around the corner a bit onto each surface.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:01PM
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