Paint Stripping: No Quick Fix

by Josh on March 28, 2006 · 7 comments

in Bedroom,Projects

I am still working on removing paint from my first door in the south upstairs bedroom, and it would be generous to say I am half done with it. I made reasonably good progress using the Silent Paint Remover, so long as I applied a boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits mixture to the belligerent bottom coat of paint that the initial stripping process fails to remove.

The trouble, as I saw it, with that method was the number of steps in the process. If I could cut down on these steps through using another stripping method, I could get more work done faster.

As I contemplated the limitations of my heat-based method, I thought I would try some chemical strippers I had on hand. On Saturday, I finally got a few uninterupted hours to work on the paint removal, so I tried out a citrus stripper and a conventional methyl-chloride stripper each on a portion of the door I had not previously tried stripping.

citrus stripper at work

The results were disappointing. Neither chemical product fared any better than my SPR when it came to removing the base paint coat in a single pass. Perhaps a little warmer temperature in the garage would have helped; it was several degrees short of the 65 degree F recommended working temperature. More than anything, I think the cool temperature just extended the time it took the chemical strippers to do their job.

So it’s back to the Speedheater/Silent Paint Remover for me. I have resigned myself to the fact that there is no “quick fix” when it comes to paint removal, so I’ll just put in my time and try to refine my system. I still have to try to speedheater/ chemical stripper combo technique that reader Sean suggested a few weeks ago, so I’ll work that into my process and see how it goes.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

sean March 28, 2006 at 9:28 am

Don’t feel bad – a door usually takes me about 12 hours (both sides) before I ready for the final sanding… them there is the varnishing….


OldPaintStripper March 28, 2006 at 12:05 pm

Be careful mixing the speedheater with chemical stripper as some are extremely flammable.


jm March 28, 2006 at 12:37 pm

The layer that even the SPR couldn’t touch at our house was (what I think is) the milk paint layer. It was a paint that was really like enamel! For that, I had to get some Peel Away and even that was tedious.

Paint stripping is a pain. At least the clean up with the SPR is less nasty than with chemical strippers.


Josh March 28, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Don’t worry, OldPaintStripper, I’ll be using the SPR first and the chemicals second. The way Sean pitched it, you use the chemicals to get the details after you’ve done a thorough job with the Speedheater.


Josh March 28, 2006 at 2:33 pm

I think this primary coat might be milk paint, too, JM. Thanks for the Peel Away suggestion. I used Peel Away 1 very successfully on my brick fireplace, so I may have to check out Peel Away 7 for the woodwork.

Speaking of milk paint, try asking about it at your local hardware store/big box home center and watch the clerk’s reaction. I’ve gotten a lot of disbelieving head tilts from that lately. “So this paint is actually made from milk?…”


Rod July 7, 2009 at 12:08 am

Yes, I’m coming to this conversation a bit late. It does sound like you’ve encountered milk paint, Josh. If you’ve any more doors to strip (as I’m sure you’ve completed this one by now), you might try some milk paint remover from the Real Milk Paint Co. I’ve not tried it yet, but will soon.


Janess September 18, 2012 at 5:11 am

That’s an astute asnwer to a tricky question


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