Removing Old Floor Paint from Pine Floors

I have a few rooms in my older farm house where the folks who lived here long ago painted the wide-plank pine tongue and groove floors with floor paint. It does not look too bad, but based on some of the other rooms in the house these floors would look great refinished. Should I even try removing a few layers of floor paint from these floors, or should I leave them be? Is this a reasonable job to undertake? I'm guessing this is oil based paint. I was thinking sanding it off, but I gotta think the paint would clog up the sand paper very fast. Are chemicals an option?
Thanks in advance for any ideas.
Rob PA
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Rob
    I just got thru a project like yours.     We used paint remover first and scraped forever. It works to a point. I tried a heat gun on different sections. This was good at softening the paint but raised up large splinters of wood. When scraping, the large splinters turned into gouges.     The thing that worked best was a handheld power planer. This room is maybe 12 x 15 and I used 4 blades. I have a Bosch planer which uses 1 blade at a time.     I made a fixture for the sides of my belt sander so that it wouldn't dig ruts in the floor. I used the belt sander to smooth out the planing marks.     If I had to do this again, which I will do in other rooms, this is probably what I would do:     1    use chemicals to remove as much as possible.     2    get some extra blades and use the planer to get whats left.     3    rent a vibrating floor sander. Don't use a drum floor sander unless you want to remove a lot of wood.
    Don't forget......the paint probably contains lead.
Have a good time. Joe

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Rob Gray wrote:

Your floor paint likely contains lead, so you will want to avoid sanding without proper capture of paint dust that would disperse through the entire farm house. Your best bet is chemical strippers, but try several different ones and be patient. The longer you wait the less you have to scrape. In the end you will want to refinish the pine anyway, but get the paint off first. If you must sand apply moisture the surface to keep the dust down, wear a respirator, and seal off the room with plastic sheeting.
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In a similar situation I called in a pro hardwood guy who sanded the floors to a smooth finish. 3 rooms and a hall in one day. Because it was painted he charged 20% more than for a normal sanding to cover the cost of the extra paper and time he used. A few hundred miles south of you this cost me $1.25 per square foot a few year ago.
I applied the finish. His price was just for sanding. At that time sanding and 2 coats of poly went for about the same price on a standard sand and refinish in this area.
Colbyt KY
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