stripping front door advice

Greetings. I would like to refinish my 6 panel oak front door. It currently is stained and has polyurethane or varnish on top that has faded. What would be the best way to strip it, chemicals or heat gun?
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I dont think a heat gun will work and burns wood, use chemicals, sand to new wood if its not veneer and use an exterior marine product
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I would generally use a heat gun, just because it is so much less trouble. It works best when there are multiple layers of paint.
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Varnish (common type) doesn't fade...it may yellow. For a fresh start on something visible to everyone who can see your house, you may want to consider some professional help. Without it, the end result may be something really ugly. Of course if you have practical experience such as refinishing boats or pianos commercially, just ignore this advice. Regarding strippers, methylene chloride-based gel types are most effective on the most materials. You definitely don't want to attack the project with the door in place, so plan for providing a nice horizontal work area, using sawhorses, for example. Work outdoors, and provide some sort of cover for unexpected weather with an EasyUp canopy or similar. Follow directions on the stripper container to the letter. Buy several grits of sandpaper down to 400 grit or so and use sanding blocks, other tools based on the wood shapes. Expect to spend many hours getting the results you want, like a week of spare time. The alternative is to take the door to a furniture stripping shop (yellow pages), and have them do the hard work in far less time. They can often give you good advice on finishes and procedures if you want to do that yourself. Pro paint stores are also dandy folks to get sensible answers from. HTH and good luck.
Joe
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Mikepier wrote:

Hi. New here, first post.
I have recently just done exactly that, refinished a six panel hardwood door. Mahogany, not oak. I have tried heat guns in the past, two in fact, one flame, one very hot air, but they were not at all efficient. I ended up using a gel type commercial stripping agent and a very high pressure, low flow water blaster with a knife attachment. It took only moments to strip back to a finish that looked as though it had just been freshly sanded. (You have to be careful doing this with softwoods, it can literally rip pine apart.) I then liberally applied Teak Oil and let it dry with the aid of my workshop air conditioner on "extract moisture", not on cooling. It brought the door back to a new timber condition. The water blasting is remarkably effective and as it is VERY quick, the timber doesn't get saturated. No warping or cracking problems etc. I have now stained, filled and Marine Two Pack finished it. Now all I have to do is figure out where I want to use it. It was a find at a rubbish disposal centre. Many badly applied coats of both oil based and poly clear finishes made it look pretty crappy, then I noticed that it was Mahogany. Too good to leave there, but not really needed on any current project. I guess I'll keep it in the "one day..." collection for a while. (My wife wants to nuke the "one day..." collection. :) )
Mack
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I went to a paint store today and they recommend "Rock Miracle" paint and varnish remover. It looks like I will spend a Sat or Sun stripping the door outside. I was going to get a steel or fiberglass door from Lowes or HD and just replace the entire door, but there is nothing wrong structurally with my existing door, it just needs to be redone. It is a nice door and I hope to bring it back to life.
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Mikepier wrote:

I've done lots of furniture stripping, and Strypeeze (not water base) is my favorite. It is messy work and a strong chemical. I would definitely not use water on a wood door, particularly a panel door. Water very likely would loosen and/or warp pieces - a panel door has lots of end grain exposed and that sucks up water more quickly. It may also have water-soluble glue. For a varnished door, two applications of stripper would likely be all that is needed, followed by scraping (carefully), wipe with steel wool and final wipe-down wth fine steel wool and mineral spirits. Semi-paste stripper has wax added as a thickener, so you want to be sure to clean it off completely. Taking the door down and laying it flat probably a good idea. If there are darkened or discolored portions from sun exposure, those should be sanded. Stripper takes most of the old stain, and a clear finish on most oak yields a pretty, medium brown.
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Norminn wrote:

Hi Norminn.
I have have been doing it for decades (I am early fifties) and have never had a problem. Your reaction though is similar to most on first thought. When you think about it a little deeper, the wood is exposed to water/moisture for less time than if I painted it using a water based paint and allowed it to dry naturally. I always use an oil, usually teak oil, liberally as soon as I finish water blasting and dry without high heat. As I say, never a problem, not even on fine furniture. If I am stripping ornate furniture, carved etc., I add white spirit and Flaxseed (Linseed) oil to the water in the water blaster. The finished timber has water beading on it.
To warp or split wood needs to have a fairly long exposure, not just a few minutes. Perhaps the fact that I am a sailor, having spent a lot of my life on various sailing vessels, many of them wooden, gives me a different attitude to good hardwood and water. The English Navy conquered the world in ships made primarily of oak and they were not protected by modern finishes, they were usually just well seasoned timber and pitch for caulking.

To each his own, this has always worked for me, it gets into every little crevice without scraping or damaging the work. As I mentioned in the earlier post, this is not always effective for softwoods, I used it for well seasoned hardwood only.
Regards
Mack
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To each their own. I won't argue with your technique, as we each know our own experience. I have unwarped tabletops by wetting them for 5 or 10 minutes. In a panel door, with floating panels, the frame might hold water for some time. My sailing is fiberglass only, with a touch of teak and holly :o)
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Put the wife on notice hat she will have to give up her collection of shoes and handbags if that happens. >G<
Joe
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Mack -- do you have any links for your water blaster -- manufacturer, etc.??
Thanks Mark
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Mark Sparge wrote:

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Hi Mark.
I use a device made by Karcher, it was initially used for cleaning heavy trucks. I use a tip that forces the spray into a horizontal spray, a "knife" edge. It is sharp enough to actually cut the skin if you are unfortunate enough to get a hand or foot in the way. Very useful gadget, I use it for cleaning cement, stripping Terracotta roof tiles back to a new finish, cleaning the family cars (on a reduced pressure), great for alloy wheels, and even washing the dog (on a MUCH reduced pressure). Dog loves it.
It uses about five or six litres a minute when fed from a twenty litre bucket or container and it seldom takes more than a minute or two to strip something the size of a door. As mentioned elsewhere, you can add white spirit and Flaxseed oil to the water source if needed. It is capable of stripping paint from brickwork etc., without chemicals, just the high pressure alone.
Regards
Mack
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---------------------------------------------------------------- Mack,
Do you have any info/links, etc. for the water blaster??
Thanks, Mark
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Mikepier wrote:

I would use chemical stripper. It makes pretty quick work of old varnish and stain. Multiple coats of old paint are another story. If the door has had exposure to strong sun, the wood may be more damaged - it takes on almost a burnt feel, although not blackened. I would not use a clear finish on wood that gets strong sun. If part of the door is badly damaged, it probably will not take stain evenly.
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