Don't know if this might benefit somebody sometime, but here's my
experience with dipped timber doors.
We had nine large wooden doors (pine?) varying in age and condition.
Most are probably late 1800s or early 1900s. I could be wrong, but this
is my guess. Anyway, they are all pretty solid and heavy.
Deciding to remove the paint, we elected to have them dipped in caustic
(dip and strip, in Edinburgh) to remove the many layers of paint that
had been applied over the decades. They did an excellent job,
"cracking" the beading/mouldings slightly so the paint in the corners
was exposed and stripped away. As far as we could make out, they had
done as they said they would: applied some sort of neutralising agent
and then powerjet blasted them with water. As it happens, the job was
big enough for them to collect and deliver back the same day. They took
pretty good care of the doors, in terms of transport and placing them
back where we asked them to be. We drew a sketch plan of our apartment,
numbering each door and using a nail to mark the top (unseen) edge to
give us a quick reference of where each door should go back.
A bonus was taking all the hinges off and the door-strippers put them
in with the doors to strip them of paint too. As soon as I got these
back I scrubbed them with wire wool for a good clean, thoroughly dried
them, and sprayed them with CRC (why I don't know but they haven't
rusted). In contrast, our neighbours at the suggestion of the
door-strippers, left their hinges on and they've got quite rusty hinges
now. OK, so taking hinges off is a real effort, and it's a bit of a
detective game (with a solution I might add!) to match the right ones
to the right doors, but that's just part of the job in my opinion. Of
course, we removed all the handles and metal bits before dipping.
We left the doors in the shade while we went on holiday, carefully
separated to allow the air to get to them. That was two weeks slow
drying. We added another two to three weeks of slow drying to that
again. The result was that our doors, for this or other reason(s),
didn't warp or shrink. Well, at least we haven't noticed anything like
this (yet?) :O) Also, probably due to the neutralising and good
hosing-down with water, we haven't had any residue issues.
After much research we settled on a light but careful coat of shellac
(non cellulose - not sure why) sanding-sealer on the dry doors. One
thing to watch with this was making sure excess shellac is wiped away
(or blended into the area) pretty much immediately to avoid stains (we
have a few on the first couple of doors I did).
Once the shellac was dry, I carefull sanded down the entire door with
quite fine sandpaper. For those who have not done this before, it's a
process that is much easier than "normal" sanding in some respects --
it's very easy to get a lovely smooth surface from the sealed wood.
Getting into any moulding/beading details is a bit of a fiddle, but you
get there. Thanks to my enthusiasm in one area, I got a very deep
splinter in my finger (what a relief to have it removed!)
So, tips for sanding: 1. Wear a mask, as sanding shellac results in
very fine particles indeed, which I'm sure warrant avoiding. 2. Go easy
and methodical with the sanding (according to the surface) as you could
end up with splinters aplenty! 3. Sand parallel to the grain avoids
noticable scratchmarks across the grain.
Following the sanding, a good dusting-down with a clean cloth (striking
the surface helped clean the cracks and holes) removed most of the
dust. Then I applied wax to the surface, rubbing it in parallel to the
grain, followed by a buff with a clean dry cloth when dry.
The results were pretty pleasing, especially considering the beating
and processes these doors have now endured.
The shellac "sanding sealer" I used was a generic-brand product and
cost around £25 incl. VAT for 5 litres. That did nine doors -- it's
quite amazing how fast one goes through it, so go easy in the beginning
until you've got enough data to keep an eye on your usage. Smaller
quantities of this stuff are quite expensive. I figure that most people
would need less than I did, but wouldn't end up paying a lot less.
The wax I used was "Briwax" clear. I had heard/read people saying that
the clear Briwax left white in the cracks and corners but must say that
I haven't seen this in my experience at all. Maybe this is leftover
residue from the shellac sanding? I don't know. Could also be the fact
that small holes just end up being filled with the wax, and if one is
using a coloured wax, this doesn't show up quite as much as the
dull-waxy white of the clear stuff. That said, this isn't white as in
toothpaste by any means, and is next-to-invisible in the scheme of
things. Of course, big holes might be different!
I got the Briwax at a clearance sale but would have paid full price for
it if I needed to. It's a really good product, and I'll use it again.
It's true that I haven't had experiences with any other products in
this space, so I'll keep an open mind in that area, but Briwax exceeded
our expectations for the job.
For those who haven't applied Briwax or similar to wood, it's a little
bit like smearing lard or something similar to the wood, in that it's
not hard as candle-wax yet not fluid or liquid at all like varnish or
honey. I had no idea what it was going to be like before I got the
Briwax, and would have been better equipped for preparation if I'd have
known this ahead of time (I didn't need a fine, good quality brush, for
Lastly, if the fittings you have (plates that go on the closing edgle
of the door), small slider locks, etc., are solid brass, sanding the
paint off them with very very fine sandpaper has proved to be a really
good way of removing the paint from them and giving them a lovely
appearance. Of course, your milage may vary (it's a bit of a Zen
activity), and you would be well-advised to try the back of one first
before launching into it big-time.
Well, that's it. I'll try and answer any questions if there are any!