Do you know what I was doing last night at 10:30? I was stripping.
In my back yard.
By the light of one floor lamp.
And I have the photographic evidence to prove it…
Hahaha!! See what I did there?
You can’t expect me to use paint stripper all afternoon and evening and not make at least one juvenile joke about stripping.
Okay, so let me back up just a bit. I’m having to take a break from the kitchen, not because I want to, but because my right elbow demands it. After I got through with another full day (on Monday) of hammering, pulling, prying, ripping, and loading debris into the back of the truck, my right arm hurt so badly that I wanted to cry. Every little motion sent shock waves of pain from my elbow down to my wrist and up to my shoulder. I went later to get us some dinner, and when the lady at the drive through window handed me my tea, I grabbed it with my left hand, and then tried to grab it with my right hand to put into the cup holder in my car, and I couldn’t even lift the cup of tea!!
So I let it rest (for the most part) all day yesterday. I loaded up on turmeric (did you know that’s a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever?) and used our sound wave therapy machine on it, and it’s doing much better, but it still needs a couple more days of rest.
But you know I can’t just sit still for that long. I had to find a project, and one project I’ve been really wanting to dive into lately is my interior doors. I’ve been making myself wait because I had already started the kitchen, and I don’t want to get too many different project started at once, but I thought this “elbow down time” would be a perfect time to start.
So let me explain. My interior doors look like this…
Can you see the peeling paint at the bottom? Well, that’s just the first layer of about six. And the layers on there are kind of thick and have runs and drips dried on them. So I’ve had it in my mind that I would just replace the doors eventually.
Then about three weeks ago, it dawned on me that these doors aren’t like those ubiquitous molded MDF six-panel pre-primed, pre-hung doors that you get at Home Depot for $50 each regardless of the size. No, these were quite a bit heavier. They were different.
Now I realize that this should have been obvious to me from the beginning since my house was built in 1948, and I’m fairly certain that they didn’t have the pre-primed molded MDF six-panel doors then. But for some reason, until just recently, I haven’t been able to look past all of those drippy layers of paint.
So I got a piece of sandpaper and just sanded down one tiny area to see what was under there.
I counted six layers of paint (can you see the seafoam green?), and then lo and behold, there was real wood under there!!! (Okay, now I realize that most of you are probably saying, “Well, duh! Of course they’re wood, Kristi! I could have told you that when you showed us the first pictures last August!!” So you’ll just have to bear with my ignorance. This is my first time owning an old house, and most certainly my first time having anything other than either flat hollow core doors or the molded MDF six-panel pre-primed, pre-hung doors.)
Needless to say, I was ecstatic. So yesterday, I removed one of the doors and took it outside to strip the paint off of it.
Now let me just say that it’s been years…many years…since I’ve used paint stripper. So in my mind, I’m thinking that each door should take me about two hours. Well, I’m about six hours into the first door, and I’m about 3/4 of the way through.
And after this one, I have seven more to do.
But I feel certain it’ll be worth it in the end. Here’s a look at the one side that I got completely done.
Obviously it still needs to be sanded quite a bit to get all of the rest of the remnants off, but wow. Just…WOW. I’m so excited about these doors!!!
And I’m by no means a wood purist. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But when I look at things like this, I can’t help but ask, “How in the world could someone put paint on that?!”
Anyway, for those of you who have never stripped before, let me show you the necessary tools so that you can strip with confidence. (No dancing skills required.)
First off, this is the chemical stripper I used…
And wow, does this stuff work! I almost grabbed the Citristrip, which I’ve never used before, but I decided to pass on it when I read on the label that it works in as little as 30 minutes, but may take up to 24 hours. Seriously? Twenty-four hours? What the…?! I had six layers of paint to get through on eight different doors. I was not even about to take a chance on having to wait up to 24 hours for the stuff to work. This Klean Strip stuff worked in minutes. It took it off layer by layer (and not all six layers at once), but it definitely worked fast.
A metal pail and cheap chip brushes are a must. This is one job where you definitely do not want to use your good paint brushes. Just pour the stripper into the pail, and then brush it on thick.
These shop towels were a great help.
I started out using regular paper towels, and even though I buy the thickest, strongest and most absorbent paper towels ever known to mankind (and I’m certain of that because that’s what the commercials say, and they would never lie to me), I still found them a bit lacking for a job like this. These super thick shop paper towels were definitely the way to go. I mainly used them on that little trim detail around each panel on the door. That was definitely the hardest part to strip off, and I found that by using the paper towels to wipe off most of the paint/stripper, I was then able to use a detail tool to get the rest of it off.
And then there are the scraping tools…
The one on the right is just a 3-inch putty knife. I did almost all of the scraping with that one. The one on the left is a caulk remover. This little thing was invaluable when it came to scraping the paint from the detail trim around the panels. That little tool actually had a little plastic piece sticking off of the top, but I broke it off to make it easier to work with, and it worked amazingly well.
And of course, you need gloves…
And when the man at Home Depot tells you that the thin blue nitrile gloves will work with chemical stripper, you ignore him, okay? Because let me assure you that the chemical stripper will eat right through the thin blue nitrile gloves and will burn the heck out of your skin. Just bypass the pain and frustration and get yourself some of these thick neoprene gloves. They’ll stand up to heavy chemicals.
And then for discarding all of the scraped paint, just a cardboard box is all you need…
I started out just using paper towels, and soon realized that I was going to end up with so much paint that I really needed a container to put all of it into. Plus, continually wiping the scraper onto paper towels, and having to constantly stop and get a new paper towel, is just incredibly inefficient. I found that the box method allowed me to scrape, and then wipe the blade right onto the edge of the box. It worked so much better.
I’m so anxious to get this first door completely stripped, sanded and then stained.
I have no idea at this point what color stain I’ll use, but it’ll probably be a darker color so that I can minimize some of this busy wood grain. I don’t want to cover it up completely, but I do want it to be more subtle.
It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s kind of fun, and definitely more relaxing than what I’ve been doing!
So I’m hoping that I can get at least a few doors done, and give my elbow some much needed rest, and then get back to the kitchen next week. In the meantime, I hope to have at least one stained door to show you tomorrow!