My first use of a chemical stripper was Zinsser's paint and varnish stripper on
exterior face of a mahogany entry door - whose finish is old and mostly
Not sure if the stuff I got was old or what - can advised it was a paste -
vertical surfaces, which fits my application..
This stuff is like the blob - definitely a non-Newtonian fluid - and not a real
more like thick slime.
Is this normal?
Bottom line - after leaving in place for longer that the suggested 30 min. and
scrubbing with a stiff nylon bristle brush - very little of the finish came off.
Product is labeled to remove latex and oil-base paint, varnish, polyurethane,
and more - up to 3 layers of finish in one application.
Temperature Application Range is 65 - 85 deg.F.
In Houston this evening was pushing the upper limit of the range when applied.
Per the MSDS the product is ~ 25% methlyene chloride - with the balance being
acetone and toluene. I would have expected a strong smell with this composition
was not present.
Either the product was old and lost effectiveness or what is left of the old
Will review MSDS documents of other products for one with a greater % of
Thanks in advance for any comments / suggestions for a more aggressive chemical
How much did you put on? Had it dried some when you scrubbed? You need to
put on a *THICK* coat and scrape/scrub before it dies out. Once it dries
some the finish it softened sort of reconstitutes. After putting it on,
poke/scrape at the paint once in a while with something like a toothpick to
see if the finish is softening. You can also see the finish
I would seriously doubt any general stripper will remove milk paint,
as you say that Zinsser labeling indicated.
Mahogany door! Take the door off the jam and work on it flat. Don't
skimp on the repair of that quality of door. Working on it, with it
vertical, to me, is doing a non-quality job.
KleanStrip has 60% methylene Chloride, which is the main active
ingredient for general stripping. I think you (or someone) had
earlier mentioned rinsing/cleanup with some sort of alcohol. *Note:
From the KleanStrip website. http://www.wmbarr.com/ProductFiles/MSWRPTM.pdf
Additional Data - Methylene chloride: Alcohol may enhance the toxic
Should you try the KleanStrip, rinse or clean up with mineral spirits
(preferred) or soapy water, not with an alcohol product. After all is
stripped and cleaned, then, I suppose, an alcohol wipe-down is okay.
[This followup was posted to rec.woodworking and a copy was sent to the
My experience of stripping old finish is that it may be necessary to go
at it with multiple applications of the stripper. If the door has panel
type features it may be necessary to work the stripper into the panel
corners and edges using a pad of steel wool. Steel wool with stripper
requires careful selection of the correct grade of the stuff. Too fine
and the pad will just completely plug up and not be useful. Also it is
necessary to make sure that you have the best hands protection you can
Your nylon brush idea may be a workable replacement for the steel wool
but having not tried that I cannot comment.
I've had good luck with JASCO paint stripper. This discussion has some
additional tips. http://www.diychatroom.com/f4/jasco-paint-remover -
Is that rated for poly finishes? Not all strippers are, and those
which aren't won't cut it, at all!
Yeah, they're usually like jello.
Uh, try a putty knife/scraper. If it still doesn't come off, refer to
my first question. (Is it poly rated?)
If it dried up on you, it was too warm. Was it still a gel when you
brushed at it? If not, the solvents evaporated and it dried up on
you. That's a bad thing. Rewet it and catch it when it's still wet
the next time.
OK, the methylene chloride was the poly killer, so it should have
The gels usually don't lose effectiveness because they're gelled. Did
it reek pretty good? If not, maybe it was bad.
Surprisingly, some of the citrus strippers are poly-rated.
One other thing to try: Take the door off, lay it down, gel it up, and
cover that with plastic for 45 minutes. Now try to scrape the finish
off. Did that help?
Truth loves to go naked.
--Dr. Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732
Since you "do not know" what finish you are trying to remove,
various strippers might not work very well. Factory finished doors
could have one of "many" very tough finishes.
Poly is an example of very tough to strip.
Spar Varnish is also tough to strip.
Klean-Strip makes "several" strippers, all for different finishes.
Go here and do a little reading:
There is NO single stripper that will work well on all finishes,
you need to find the one for your door.
There are a few things you did not mention so I will assume you did not
1) Purchase a finish / paint stripper containing the most methylene
chloride you can. A rough guideline is to buy the one that weighs the most.
Methylene chloride is the heaviest component of the strippers and the can
that weighs the most probably has the highest concentration of methylene
chloride. There are stronger stripers available. They are usually called
aircraft stripper grade and usually contain lye. They not something you
2) Take the door off the hinges so you can work on it laid flat. This
will keep the stripper in contact with the surface longer.
3) Before you apply stripper, clean the door. Dirt can actually block
the stripper from reaching the finish. First use warm water at one gallon
of water to one capful of dishwashing detergent. The idea is to get the
door wet enough to do the work but not so wet that it becomes saturated. To
rinse the door, use a fresh cloth and fresh water. Follow up with fresh
cloth to dry the door. Wash down again with mineral spirits to remove any
remaining oil soluble dirt. There is no rinse in this case, just use a
fresh cloth to both remove the contaminated mineral spirits and dry the
4) Apply the stripper in a thick layer and do not continue to move it
about the surface once you have applied it. You want the wax in the
stripper to keep the methylene chloride from evaporating. Continuously
moving it on the surface will not allow a wax "crust" to form and the
methylene chloride will evaporate.
5) Once the stripper has sat for the time suggested on the stripper
container, remove it and apply a fresh coat of stripper. There is no need
to do an extensive job of removing the first coat but get as much as you can
by scraping it off. Let the second coat sit as long as the first. Now you
can do a thorough job of removing the stripper followed by a wipedown with
either lacquer thinner or a solution of toluene, methanol, and acetone.
Either should keep any residual finish from redepositing as you remove the
There are a few finishes that require the surface to be roughened to the
wood surface before applying stripper but I doubt you will encounter these.
Zip Strip. The grade sold for stripping boats is
Lye will strip almost anything, although it's not
terribly kind to wood or skin.
Is the door flat, with minimal joinery or panels and
crossbucks? Card scraper is the fastest "stripper."
Sharpen with a file, forget the burnisher, a hooked
edge won't last three strokes on old paint. Save the
Zip Strip for cleaning out the detailed spots.
Thanks to everyone for the very helpful and informative comments.
Following additional info I did not include the first time:
1. The product has a very weak odor - tube plastic modelers cement or Ambroid
has a stronger odor.
2. The can was vigorously shaken each time product was removed for use.
3. Noting the initial application appeared to have dried out in several areas,
stripper was applied. While the first application was a bit thin - after the
application the total film thickness was ~ 1/8".
4. The finish never appeared to wrinkle / crack - this after the second
5. Sanding was completed before application of the stripper - mostly on the flat
and to a lesser degree on the curved surfaces.
6. The product tech bulletin advises the max. application temp is 85F - was
close to that during use. May have to do this just before dawn to ensure the
is at minimum for the day :)
7. Will get KleanStrip or Zip Strip this morning and go at it again, making sure
product is applied in a thick layer and removed before drying - this aspect of
procedure was most likely where I fell short of proper execution.
Thanks again to all for the benefit of your experience - much appreciated!
Granddaughter had someone else paint a crib and dresser with latex
enamel. Asked me to fix it. I foolishly said, no problem. I tried
quite a few different strippers and never did find one that was
effective on the latex. The best performance was straight lacquer
thinner with a 3M type pad. Very slow, but came out well. Great
granddaughter turned out cute, smart, pretty, popular, etc, etc.
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