I'm stripping... paint, that is

I am now realizing I have undertaken a HUGE project.

Silly me, decided since I am painting the kitchen and living room, I may as well strip the layers of paint off the china hutch and all the woodwork. I knew it would be difficult, as you can see at least two heavy layers of paint on the door frames (some heavy supergloss white chipped off and underneath is a lovely minty green circa 1950).

I purchased some nifty paint remover that was supposed to work like a charm. Well, I suppose it would if I had any patience. I started on the hutch in the kitchen. I slathered on 3M Safest Stripper according to directions. Waited about an hour, according to directions, and lemmee tell ya this stuff kinda works. I realize (now) that there are three layers of paint- again starting with white hi-gloss, then a pretty robins egg blue, and finally a yellow which is actually close to the color I’m painting the walls. However, this stripper just isn’t doing it. I have four doors to do, along with yards of woodwork. If I continue using the Safest Stripper I’ll be grey before it’s done. At the same time, I do not want to use something toxic, as it all has to be done indoors and my cats have respiratory issues as it is.

So tell me, DIYers, what stuff worked slick for you? Tell me your methods! Give me refinishing secrets!

I haven’t used it and don’t know much about it, but this companies products were recommended in a magazine that I read and trust to provide accurate information. Here’s the article. The part about chemical stippers is towards bottom of the page.

I used some stuff that comes in a big can and is the consistency of snot. It worked like a charm. It is rather fumey, but I have cats and they didn’t seem bummed by it. You may want to stick 'em in the bedroom with the window open during your stripping process. I wish I could remember the name of it. I got it at Home Cheapo or some similar place.

This stuff actually bubbled up and the multiple layers of paint peeled off all the way down, first try.

sigh found two MORE layers of paint on the hutch. What I thought was the base wood turned out to be a brown paint and a varnish (on top of the brown paint). At this point I could make a mint on it were I to sell it as the ever so popular “distressed” woodwork.

Moe Mentum (great username, btw)- I looked at that stuff OL last night, it’s fairly pricey but I may give it a whirl. The stink factor is very important.

Kalhoun- I’ve seen an infomercial on that stuff, I believe. That might be ideal for the doors (once, of course, I strip the paint off the hinges so I CAN remove the doors!)

MissTake, consider buying yourself a heat gun. My husband and I attempted to strip some of our woodwork (before deciding to go in a different direction), and we also used the 3M stuff. We liked how it worked, but you’re right - multiple applications were needed. And we had tons of layers of paint. Used a heat gun and the stuff came off pretty quickly, all the way down to the wood.

You do have to use caution, however - if you hold the gun over one area too long, you can burn the wood. And I’ve heard that heat guns can raise the grain of the wood, but didn’t see it myself.

The procedure’s easy - move the gun over the surface about 4 - 6 inches away. You’ll see the paint sorta bubble up. Then just scrape it off. It’s tedious (like stripping wood isn’t?), but it seems to go faster than the 3M stripper. It might be more difficult if you have a lot of detail, however.

I think the heat gun was like $20 - $30 at the big box home improvement store.

Good luck.



Heh, were I to use sandpaper my wrists would be as sore as a geek in a room full of Xena impersonators. My kitchen only has a total of 20’ of molding to be stripped, along with the hutch and a door frame. The living room and hallway total well over 100’ of molding. Not including the doorframes and the doors.

The heat gun would work on the molding, but there’s enough detail on the doors, door frames, and hutch where I would think it might be difficult to do-

Are you sure there is a hutch and it’s not just a bunch of layers of paint?

If you take the heat gun approach, I’d be careful of fumes. Ventilate the room well.

The one time I stripped woodwork convinced me that if I were ever to be in a situation where I had to strip a lot of it, I’d simply tear it all off and put new stuff on. (Later on, I had to install some woodwork and began to understand why people take the effort to strip it.) But still, if it’s a conventional molding and not some priceless example of early 20th Century craftsmanship, it might be easier just to yank it off and replace it.

Good point here, you can still buy good trim and woodwork. The best strippers seem to be the ones with the highest fumes. You might also try scoring the paint a bit before application of the stripper so it can get beneath the surface. Are you using steel wool on the bubbled paint? I use a scaper on the flat surfaces and steel wool on the molded edges.
I’ve used a heat gun and it works well but never used it inside a house. It will probably set off the smoke detectors.

It would be easier to just buy new molding and trim, but it would be expensive. All the doors and frames are original to the house, I wouldn’t want to change that.

I went and bought a gallon of the stuff noted by Moe. Supposed to do 50 square feet, which will get the entire kitchen (including hutch) and part of the living room done. Somewhat expensive ($31.00 for the gallon), but that’s okay–if it works.

Did I mention I found ANOTHER layer on the hutch?
It now goes: Wood, white, blue, brown, varnishy stuff, yellow, white.

Let me add this question to the mix~~ I’m planning on staining/sealing the woodwork when I’m done. However, the windows and frames are white. Should I also strip the window frames/molding, or can I leave that white? The windows were relaced about 6 years ago, only ONE coat of paint on the frames, luckily. The walls in the kitchen are going to be a sunny yellow, the LR and hall is going to be a mossy greyish green. The woodwork is all oak.

This stuff is SLICK!! It’s not doing so great a job on the first varnish coat on the door frames, but I SEE WOOD ON THE HUTCH!!

Glad to hear it’s working. Good luck with your project.

The OP was written by a bright eyed optimist.

At this point, I just want to tear the walls down. Eff it.

Some LR molding is just varnish and white paint. Other has layers of mauve, a faux wood laminate, green, and white. My hands hurt. My shoulders hurt. I have paint and remover crusted into my hands and fingernails. I have accidently gouged the wall plaster in two places, and have gouged the woodwork more than a few times. In some places the paint will not come off at all. I’m grungy, cranky, and peeved at myself for starting all this.

~sigh~ anyone wanna come over and have a paint stripping party?

I told ya, sister. You shoulda gone with the snot.
Hope you made some headway over the weekend.

Another vote for the snot. That stuff usually contains methylene chloride and is quite nasty – gloves are a must. Nevertheless, I used it on my basement floor two weeks ago to remove 220 sq ft. of ugly old floor paint and carpet pad glue in preparation for tiling.

One important point: Due to the age of your painted surfaces, you can be relatively certain that there is lead paint involved. Please do take proper precautions. Be especially careful with dust that is generated in the process.

Saturday my sister came over to help. We were able to unearth the hinges on the cabinet doors, so they’re in the garage with a coat of toxic stuff on them, waiting for me to attack them tonight. The balance of the hutch is 99% clean, but I will need to run it over with some turpentine or something to take of the layer of varnish which is left on maybe 30% of it.

Yes folks, add ONE MORE EFFING LAYER OF CRAP on the hutch.

I finished the entry way from the kitchen to the living room. Again, weird. On the LR side, the left molding was varnish, a few coats of white- that was it. The right molding was over 6 layers of many colors, including the layer of wood veneer. Weird stuff.

Wanna know the predominant colors I have unearthed?

This color is EVERYWHERE. The breezeway had been painted this color, as had almost all woodwork. Ironically, it’s also the same color as the paint remover. This color is everywhere also. Hopefully it was not the trim color when the kitchen walls werea few shades lighter than this. And the veneers? This color.

minor7flat5- The house was tested for lead a few years ago when my sister bought it. All of the windows and frames are new, so they aren’t a worry. The other woodwork was tested. It is something I considered when I started this effort, trust me. The main health problem we’ve been experiencing is from the plaster dust. My nephew has been working on repairing ALLLLL of the cracks/gouges in the walls, of which there are many. Under and over every window is a crack. When they replaced the front door they did a craptacular job, leaving a 1" x 3" place where there isn’t any plaster. They had attempted to “fix” some of the problems, but did a bad job, so de’nephew has been sanding it all down and replastering it all.

I agree. I found 2 gallons of a paint stripper witht he brand name “Dad’s” in my basement where it’s been for about 5 years. It’s rough stuff, and quite toxic. (The label says it causes cancer)

At any rate, it took stain/varnish off of a 90 year old oak door/trim like it was butter. Amazing stuff. Being basically lazy and reckless I used no gloves or safety glasses. I would definately not go that route. When it makes contact with the skin the burning sensation starts pretty quickly.

The back door had 3 to 4 coats of paint and it took 2 to 3 applications but it worked well. I’m down to bare wood and I spent the day today with a palm sander. I think both doors will be beautiful when complete later this week.