Paint Stripping in the Bedroom

by Josh on December 24, 2009 · 6 comments

in Bedroom,Projects,Windows

As I try to keep my bedroom project moving forward, I am working on an assortment of small projects to get the room ready for sheetrock. One of these had been stripping paint from the window frames and radiator in the room.

But before I could start with the paint removal, I had some preparations to do in the space.  The radiator was already disconnected and moved into a kiddie pool in the middle of the room, but I had to clean up debris that had accumulated in the pool during demolition.  For the windows, I stapled up a sheet of plastic that draped from the window frame onto the floor to contain errant paint chips.

Additionally, I gathered a variety of supplies, some of which I had on hand and others I picked up at my True Value Hardware store:

  • Chemical strippers: 3M Safest Stripper and Bix methyl-chloride stripper
  • Heat gun
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Respirator mask
  • Stiff putty knives for scraping
  • Abrasive stripping pads
  • Rags
  • Shoe covers
  • coffee can with lid to hold scraped paint
  • plastic bags to hold used project clothing

Window frame paint removal

I tried the 3M Safest Stripper on the window frames and the Bix on the radiator.  With the window open to ventilate the room, I had a tough time keeping the 3M stripper from drying out too quickly and consequently got poor results. By contrast, the more potent Bix stripper worked quickly on the radiator, but its equally potent odor was a challenge to adequately ventilate.

Radiator stripping

Frustrated with the smell of the Bix and the slow working time of the 3M, I turned to the heat gun to strip the window frames.  To minimize the amount of paint dust and aid clean-up, I liberally misted the paint surface with water before heating and scraping. Then, as I scraped, I would drop the paint in a large coffee can that I could close with a lid. I used abrasive pads– again heavily wetted– to scrub away persistent spots missed by the scraper. This wet scraping technique is described and recommended by window restoration author Terry Meany in “Working Windows.”

To keep the paint and dust in the project area, I wore disposable shoe covers and stripped out of my clothes before leaving the room after working. My used clothes went in a plastic bag to later be washed them separately from the other laundry. Then I went straight to the shower to wash off any debris on my skin or hair.

I completed the windows in two work sessions.  When I finished the paint removal, I washed and wiped the whole area with water and rags.  Then I folded up the drop cloth to contain the debris that had fallen there, and washed the floor under the drop cloth.

There is still work to do on the radiator, but because of the noxious smell of the methyl-chloride, I’m going to try something other than the Bix on it. As for the windows, my next step will be to restore the pulleys and sash weights.  That should be the last window task to complete before beginning drywall.

Disclosure: I was one of five bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan December 24, 2009 at 10:04 am

Have you considered having the radiator sand blasted?


Tyler December 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I had a similar, less than stellar experience with Safest Stripper. Have you tried Soygel? I’ve found it stays wet much longer and is very effective at stripping paint (without the fumes of methylene chloride). It also comes off brushes and stripping pads with just water and dishwashing liquid. You can get it online and Rockler sells it in quart and gallon sizes.


Josh December 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm

@Jan- Yes, sandblasting would be my preferred option but I couldn’t find anyone willing to try carrying the radiator down the steep stairs from my upper level. I think other people have successfully sandblasted radiators on-site, but I don’t want to worry about containing and cleaning up that kind of mess inside the house. I’m definitely planning to have the main floor radiators sandblasted and powdercoated off-site, though.

@Tyler- I haven’t tried Soygel, but yours isn’t the first endorsement I’ve read for it. Thanks for the recommendation!


Michael January 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

Darn, I wish I caught this post earlier – but Citri-Strip is sold at Ace and Lowe’s, even Wal-Mart… I leave it on for 24 hours with that thick lead paint and I also cling-wrap or put up plastic sheeting to keep it wet overnight. A really good draw-scraper makes a heck of a lot of difference as well.


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