House Week 37: Back to Stripping … Paint

There is a never ending amount of items original to the house that i have been stripping 90 years of paint off of since last year, and unfortunately the pile has not visibly shrunk.  With the trim going up around the windows in the front of the house it is imminent that the actual windows themselves will need to be ready for installation.  With the world thinking all of the rain needs to fall now and in Berkeley i took advantage of a break in the storms to attempt to strip the two fixed windows that will be set in the living room as i will not have time to finish all of them before they go up, and well it seems to make sense to focus on the ones that will be nailed in place…right?

Stripping paint is definitely not a strenuous job (like laying a porch), but where it lacks in strength it makes up for in time.  Lots of time!  Most of stripping is waiting, testing, waiting some more, and then waiting just a bit longer still, and THEN going at the object scraping and swirling with steel wool trying to loosen as much as possible before you start the whole thing over again.  I have found a relatively earth friendly brand of paint stripper i like, Citristrip, which has a super pleasant odor of oranges and lemons so it’s not so bad during all of the waiting while i read.  Also it works…watch!

So here are the 90 year old windows i focused on in all of their 7+ layers of paint glory…

House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, in the beginning

House Wk 37: Fixed window edge that has never touched paint     House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, all of the layers

So here’s the steps…

  1. After i got the windows out and setup in a shady spot i gave them a damp dusting, not too wet, just enough to break through the dirt/dust (and cobwebs) that has been accumulating on them since they came out of the house a year ago.
  2. Once they were clean i used a dry cloth to make sure to remove any remaining water or dust.  They have to be *dry* for the stripper to work.
  3. Time to glob on the stripping gel.  I just open the jug and pour in over the surfaces sparsely and then go back over it with a paint brush to distribute evenly.  I think the directions say to put it in a can and brush in on from there… (but we all know i hate directions!)  The trick seems to be a good even layer nearly a 1/16'” thick over the entire surface to ensure good coverage.  This is one of those times that more is totally better.  Also note that if you have metal hardware on whatever you are stripping, like the casement hinges on the windows, you can remove or leave on and the stripper will help clean them up too, no damage
  4. Time to wait!  I give them about two hours before i even poke at them…
  5. You will need to test an area to see if they are ready yet, but i wait a minimum of two hours AND look for the tell tale sign of the paint curling together.  No curls or bubble, it’s not done.  If it’s dry and there are none, add another coat to help restore the moisture levels so the stripper can get back to work.
  6. Once you have the ripples test a corner using a plastic scraper (metal at you own risk, i totally learned this the hard way with an ugly scratch on the glass).  You should get a good couple of layers off at a time.
  7. While it would be nice, this is not a single coat type thing.  For my crazy hundred layers it took two passes, which is nothing!  So from here depending up how much paint you got off repeat steps 3 through 6 at least once more and and many times as necessary to get close to the wood.  Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t all come through, we have something else for that. 
  8. Once you have *most* of the paint off time to move over to the Mineral Spirits and Steel Wool.  Unfortunately this is something that stinks to the high heavens.  There are “Green” and “Odorless” ones, which i used, but they are definitely not odorless!  Be sure this is done outside or somewhere you and nothing else will be for at least a day.  Pour a sparing amount of mineral spirits directly onto the wood and scrub at the remaining paint.  I started with “00” pads and they worked great without scratching up the glass and metal.
  9. Keep working with adding more mineral spirits and changing out your steel wool pads once they are full of paint (remember they have two sides!).  I used an old rag to help clean off the areas as i finished them.

And here are the windows after a full day…

House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, windows...the end     House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, DONE!!!

Aren’t they fantastic!  I am super impressed and can’t wait to see them up in the house!!!  Which will mean i can move in :)


Inder-ific said...

They are gorgeous! But I thought you were already moved in? When do we get the post with photos of your minimalist cooking set-up?

dre_ah said...

All moved in :)

i had a bit of catching up to do online. Good idea! I am working on a kitchen post this week so stay tuned!