Stripping marine varnish

Several years ago, my DH used marine spar varnish to coat the wooden pillars and deck railing on our front porch. It's now peeling off the wood.
I'd like to refinish it (with something else!), but am unsure of how best to remove the existing varnish.
Suggestions please?
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Wire wheel works well.
Spar varnish is usually a good choice for outdoor wood. Last year I used Sikkens Cetol Marine on a couple of things but it is too soon to tell just how good it is.
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Wouldn't the wire wheel scratch up the wood? I have a wire brush, but was hesitant to try that for the same reason. I'm not sure what the pillars/columns are made of, but they seem like a relatively soft wood - they're not solid, they're "faux" Doric columns that are apparently just "wrapped" around whatever is really supporting the roof.
The spar varnish still looks great from the inside of the porch - but anywhere it's been exposed to the sun and water, it's in bad shape. I'm guessing that he didn't do much (or any) prep work on it before putting on the varnish, and I have no idea what sort of finishes may have been put on the wood in previous years.
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On Mon, 25 Apr 2005 22:20:56 -0500, "A. Brown"
: :>> Several years ago, my DH used marine spar varnish to coat the wooden :>> pillars and deck railing on our front porch. It's now peeling off the :>> wood.:>> :>> I'd like to refinish it (with something else!), but am unsure of how :>> best to remove the existing varnish.:>> :>> Suggestions please? :> :> Wire wheel works well. :> :> Spar varnish is usually a good choice for outdoor wood. Last year I :> used Sikkens Cetol Marine on a couple of things but it is too soon to :> tell just how good it is. :> :> : :Wouldn't the wire wheel scratch up the wood? I have a wire brush, but was :hesitant to try that for the same reason. I'm not sure what the :pillars/columns are made of, but they seem like a relatively soft wood - :they're not solid, they're "faux" Doric columns that are apparently just :"wrapped" around whatever is really supporting the roof. : :The spar varnish still looks great from the inside of the porch - but :anywhere it's been exposed to the sun and water, it's in bad shape. I'm :guessing that he didn't do much (or any) prep work on it before putting :on the varnish, and I have no idea what sort of finishes may have been :put on the wood in previous years.
If that varnish is getting direct sun, it's just going to need refinishing eventually, that's the nature of varnish, even spar varnish. If you want to do a really good job you should really consider paint remover, in my opinion. Then wash it well, let it dry, sand it well, brush off the sanding dust and continue on a refinishing plan, be it more varnish, polyurethane or whatever you want.
In using paint remover, wear protective gloves (rubber, or similar), apply with a cheap brush, after the varnish is softened and blistered, work it with an abrasive pad and wash with plenty of water, if you have drainage, or make do if you don't. Good tough brushes and water will help you remove the paint remover. A scraper may be helpful with the tougher spots of varnish, but they'll be softened by the paint remover.
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A. Brown wrote:

I might suggest that a good marine varnish is a very good long lasting finish. If it is peeling, I would suggest that anything else you might have used would also be peeling now unless it had already been pealed off.
--
Joseph Meehan

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A. Brown wrote:

Scrape, then sand smooth. With a good, sharp scraper it goes pretty fast. Guess you could use a paint remover but that is messy, still have to scrape off the softened gunk.
Spar varnish is soft, sands easily once dry. No reason to use it in your application though, spar varnish is made for - surprise - spars...masts, booms, like that. Being soft it is flexible so that the it resists cracking from the bending of spars. Why people use it for other than spars is beyond me.
Any top coat you use on the rail is will need to be renewed from time to time. The trick is to not let it get to the point it is now...sand lightly and recoat *before* it starts deteriorating. If you want to avoid that chore, use an oil finish...you will still have to reappy occasionally but no sanding is needed.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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Thanks, I'll try that. My plan was to get the old stuff off, and then use whatever we end up using on our back deck, which will most likely be an oil finish.
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If you still want to do the stripping route, I believe any product with a concentration of methylene chloride should do the trick. Most strippers are made from this (at least the consumer versions are). You might try the plain Citristrip (I think) and see if that works. If not, you can move up to Jasco or Sunnyside Glue and Adhesive remover. This stuff has a higher concentration of the MC. Either way, be sure to wear strong gloves (PVC recommended for MC) and don't breath the stuff. Otherwise, go the sanding route. Cheers, cc

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A. Brown wrote:

the wood, and be difficult to fit into grooves and corners. I think the best way to remove varnish is a chemical paint stripper. Get one that cleans with water, and some scrub pads, a pile of rags, and a good pair of rubber gloves. Put something on the floor to protect it from drops. Follow the instructions closely.
An alternative might be to sand and put on a couple of coats of new varnish; be sure to get UV protected varnish to minimize damage from the sun, and just resolve yourself to refinishing every few years, which you will have to do with almost any paint you use.
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