Use something relatively safe, like Peel-Away 6 or 7, for the initial
layer removal. Once you start hitting the wood, use methylene chloride
_AND FOLLOW ALL SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS_. Use brass-bristle brushes to get
the paint from the wood pores. Dental picks are good, too.
Avoid Citrustrip completely. Smells awful, barely strips, requires
oily-smelling chemical to clean it up.
Actually, I kinda like citrustrip. Smells nice (IMO), and it took
about seven layers of paint right off a couple of sets of built-in
walnut cabinets for me. I didn't use the chemical cleaner, since I
had to bleach out some analine dye after stripping and it seemed
redundant. The way I did it was to get a nice thick coat of it on the
wood, and then cover it with tinfoil so it didn't dry out. The next
morning, the paint comes off right with the tinfoil, and the little
bits that are left are really easy to get off with one of those cheap
hardware store scrapers. The biggest appeal was how much easier it
was to use when working on cabinetry that covered most of the walls-
no chemical mask required, and the fumes don't burn your eyes.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
FWIW, I have tried _perhaps_ every brand of paint remover over the years
and never have had much luck -- even when the stuff is recommended by
friends who claim they got good results. I use a heat gun. I did a set of
90 year old steps, including the railing, square ballusters, newel posts,
and the paneling on the side of the stairway. I ended up using chemicals
only for some residue. The wood, I believe, is chestnut. Of course, since
the wood was to be stained, I had to be careful about burning -- and I did
make one small mistake with the paneling.
Used the same to remove probably all 90 years of paint layers on the carved
woodwork along the facia of my front porch - which I then re-painted (but
then the carving could be seen). -- Igor.
removing paint from a cabinet. I mention it in the post but please do
yourself (and others) a favor and make sure the paint is not lead-based
before you use heat or mechanical means to remove it.
I have some experience here and I will provide what I have. I have and
have been working on an old house for some years now so paint
stripping is one of life's constants for me. Couple of observations I
have made (personal opinions and experience only so please keep the
flame-throwers in check)
1) Chemical strippers are frought with issues. The best chemical
stripper I have used is Peel-Away 1. It strips paint like nobody's
business but the watch word here is MESSY. The process is that you
smear it on, put a "special" paper on it, wait a while, peel off the
paper and the paint. You have to "neutralize it" after you are done
and you basically need to repaint as it stains the wood. Peel Away 7
is supposed to not require neutrilization and not stain wood but I
have never used it. The company says that it is perfectly safe but
you can hear it working. For my money, if I can hear a chemical
working then I am giving it it's distance and applying all sorts of
safety measures regardless of what the manufacturer tells me. There
are others, that are of varying degrees of effectiveness, mess,
hazard. MC-based ones seem really dangerous. Peel Away 6 doesn't
work worth a crap in my opinion.
2) Heat gun. If you are SURE the paint is oil-based and NOT
lead-based (this goes for all layers of paint) then a heat gun might
just be your best bet (assuming you are repainting). You just need a
good scraper, lots of time, and lots of patience. Watch for fire
though, especially if the cabinet is not free-standing and there is a
substrate behind it.
3) Sanding / mechanical removal. This is tough-love and I don't
recommend it for things with any appreciable amount of surface area.
4) There is a product call the SilentPaintRemover that is quite good.
I have one and am quite familiar with it's operation and can answer
questions if you have them. Web site is www.silentpaintremover.com.
I am unafiliated with the company but have only had positive
interaction with the product and the company.
This topic is discussed to death in old house forums, you might also
want to try there for more information.
There is a stripper made specifically for floors. I don't see why it
wouldn't work on stairs although the risers would be tough as the stripper
is on the thin side. Besway makes it: 1-800-251-4166 or their website.
As others have mentioned, Peel-Away is really good on paint. This is
the one time I would think twice about a methylene chloride containing
stripper since you need really good ventilation. There are no respirator
cartridges that will protect from methylene chloride. You would need a
supplied air helmet or the equivalent. People that do architectural
stripping inside will use an NMP containing stripper as well as some souped
up versions. These work really slowly and will require you to cover the wet
surface with plastic as they work overnight. Citristrip is a hobbyist grade
version. I don't find the overpowering orange smell pleasant in the least
after about 15 minutes.
Sanding and scraping are tedious and remove wood. Heat guns and
infrared removers are very skill dependant. Other than the obvious hazards,
you run the risk of igniting any dust or tinder behind the surface you are
heating unless you have access to it to check and clean out if needed.
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