External Stripping and Refinishing

Hi,
My wife and I recently discovered that our house, which is painted externally, was originally sold with a wonderful external wood finish. Previous owners have since painted over the wood finished exterior, leaving us with the house we have today.
We'd LOVE to restore the original look of the house, somewhat. (At least the wood portion of things.) I was wondering what steps I need to take to do the following:
a.) remove the paint from the wood facing (the entire front of the house, basically - two stories) b.) seal the newly restored wood facing c.) ensure that the seal will last a reasonable amount of time. We're at a high elevation and we have a west facing house, so the sun is fairly brutal.
So there it is. I'm interested in techniques, as well as product recommendations. Also, should the wood underneath the paint be stained and sealed, or just sealed?
- Thanks in Advance,
Todd
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who: you what: buy a pressure washer and get to work where: [what location/climate?] pressure wash at every painted surface when: every weekend why: to further peel off the paint. how: repeatedly to drive moisture into the wood will encourage additional peeling. this will cost little but the wood doesn't like it. or: find the look of the shingles or clapboards you desire and install it over the existing surface, which will cost a fortune. or: install decorative or cleverly integrated solar collectors on those west walls to warm up the pool or jacuzzi or hot water tank to take your mind off chemical paint stripping, which is about the only other way to go because you don't want to scrape off the old paint with a heat gun or risk burning the nice wood or the house.
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Siding isn't hardwood furniture. The paint soaks into the wood. Highly unlikely that you would be able to remove the paint well enough to get that 'bare wood' look without removing so much of the surface layer that the place would look strange, and all the crisp edges and flat surfaces would end up looking like driftwood. I'd learn to live with it, or maybe pick a paint/stain color and a surface texture that mimics wood. (Can you say faux finish?) If you really want the wood look, you are looking at reskinning the house. Possible, but expensive, although probably not much more than stripping on such a massive scale would be.
Don't take my word for it- pick a spot hidden from the street, like behind a bush, and do a couple of square feet, and see what you come up with. Odds are they painted the place for a reason- unless you keep them well-sealed, clear-finish siding jobs usually end up looking splotchy rather quickly, especially where the sun hits all day versus where it is shaded, or where rain hits. Personally, I like splotchy bare cedar, but most people think it looks like an abandoned barn.
aem sends...
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You are not clear on anything you have , had, or want, get bids on what you want and price New wood, from what I think you want New wood will cost about the same.
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I was actually thinking about removing the existing paint, if possible, and then staining/sealing at that point. I don't know what the wood is going to look like underneath, but I imagine that it wont be pretty... - hence the stain factor.
We're going to test it, just to make sure.
What do you recommend I do to remove the old paint? Wood stripper?
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Todd wrote:

That would cost a fortune, not to mention major, major mess. Easier and less expensive, probably to reside it. A clear finish or stain on siding that gets a lot of weather will require pretty frequent maintenance.
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