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Stripping old (very old) architraves

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  1. #1
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    Default Stripping old (very old) architraves

    I have a 120 year old house which I am renovating. I am keen to have a natural timber look to the bathroom, which has involved attempting to strip many layers of old paint from the door and window architraves. I have been partially successful using a heat gun and less successful using a chemical paint stripper. The parts that have got me beat however are the myriad little grooves that are a feature of old architraves. I have access to the right tool with a pointy bit, a curved bit and a flat bit, but cannot seem to get the paint soft enough to scrape off. I suspect the paint stripper i have tried simply isn't up to the job, so am asking if anyone has recommendations on a good paint stripper.

    I have thought about simply replacing the architraves, but the new stuff is simply not good enough in term of intricacy.

    Finally, assuming I am successful in finally removing the paint, what would be the best thing to seal and protect the wood from moisture?

  2. #2
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    If you have an air compressor, you could try a sand-blaster to clear out all the little specs of paint. Super cheap sell a $40 or so blaster and $20 for some 10kg fine grit. I've found it easy to remove the last of any remaining paint on casement window frames after having them dipped for paint removal. Another plus is that it also gives them a light sand suitable enough for painting.

    I've found the easiest way for large painted pieces has been gas blow torch on a 9kg BBQ bottle and paint scraper. Burn till it melts then scrape it off. On the last layer, light burn enough to harden up the paint and then run a sander over it. Take care on the last layers not to scorch the timber. Majority of mine has been jarah which doesn't tend to scrorch.

    I've used intergrain DWD on most of my timber, its semi clear - being UV resistant it has a yellowish tint to it. After 6 years or so of being exposed to the western sun, my windows need another coat of paint. A pub near me installed new windows at the same time and they're facing north, the paint on the timber windows started visablly cracking after only 3 years.

    I've had no problems with it, used it for windows, window frames, doors, architraves, picture rails and skirting boards.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply. However, I don't happen to have an air compressor and it sounds mighty drastic for a small room!! Did I forget to mention these are internal architraves? Unfortunately, even though I tried to be very careful with the heat gun, some of the wood on the door architrave has scorched. I'm hoping it's not too deep and will sand off OK. I don't know what sort of wood it is - what were Victorian era architraves usually made from?

    I'm not sure the intergrain DWD is what would be best for my situation - these architraves are internal and not eposed to direct sun, which is what the DWD sounds useful for.

  4. #4
    phd in woodwasting rowie's Avatar
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    use( just like a scraper) the edge of a steel ruler on the flat bits. use the 90 degree angle formed at the end to get into the edges, & grind the round end to fit into the rounded profiles. as for the timber;
    if its redred pine(californian redwood) 1st pick
    if its cream with no knotskauri(doubtful)
    with knotsbaltic, sugar pine(smells sweet) 2nd pick
    finish with any interior single pack poly eg "cabothane".

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    Apprentice (new member) Harry II's Avatar
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    Sorry to be a wet towel but I have done a bit of architrave scraping myself and it sounds like you are going through something similar to me. You won't get the wood looking like when it was first installed, the scorch marks won't sand out, you have probably been burning lead paint, the chemical stripper is toxic as, and the fine dust from sanding will probably be toxic too. You have probably spent alot of time and it's not coming up to expectations. Either pull them off and do the job outside and reinstall them, send them to a proffesional paint stripper, or replace them with new ones. At a guess the wood will be a softwood, Baltic Pine, Red Pine or Cedar be bone dry and will burn very quickly. I nearly stated a fire in an upstairs flat above a shop when the architrave started to smolder from behind as a hot bit of paint found its way between the wall and the architrave, poor shop (jewelry) owner couldn't work our where the water came from (a bucket or two). Panic stations for a a while.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the various suggestions, and I am tempted to try the Citristrip. I somehow think the already scorched areas are going to be the main problem. I have sanded repeatedly, and the marks remain. As someone has suggested, probably the wood is so dry the scorching was inevitable.

    I have thought of another alternative, and that is buying some secondhand architraves (I presume it is available somewhere like Hughes or Steptoes), and even if it's painted, it will be easier to strip outside before installation.

  8. #8
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    I used a scotch brite type wheel on my electric drill and it was the only thing that would get estapol off pine lining. Not sure what they call it but someone will know. Seemed to get in all the crevaces and not 'sand' the object away.
    Carry Pine

  9. #9
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    Smile Stripping architraves in old places

    This reply might come a bit late but here goes....We have a 100 year old house and lead paint on the architraves. I looked into all sorts of options and was sold "the best paint stripper" only to find after extensive effort only one layer out of 6 had come off!

    By the far the best chemical stripper is Peel Away (very caustic so chemical resistant gloves up to the elbows and body protection a must). You paint on a paste, seal over with paper (provided) and leave it for 24-48 hours. It gets off 6 layers of really thick old paint in one go. takes a while to layer on the paste and then scrape and wash it off but it removes around 95% in one hit. Our paint was thick so I had to leave it on 48 hours to work. The underlying wood (cedar) is damaged so we can't go the timber look but an effort on the remaining 5% on undamaged wood would have brought up a great result. It seems the safest way to get rid of the lead paint which we were pretty keen to do rather than just sand, spak and paint.

  10. #10
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    Joister - your message is not too late, as I still haven't been successful with stripping these architraves. I must have tried several different brands of chemical stripper, and most of them barely touched the surface layer.

    However, I successfully used the Citristrip recommended in an earlier message on an old dressing table, but the paint was nothing like as thick.

    >> "the best paint stripper" <<

    This wasn't Cooper's by any chance was it? I have made inquiries about this - there's only one place in Melbourne that sells it and was told it cost $150!!! If there was a guarantee that it would work, I would be tempted to try it, but if there isn't, I won't waste my money.

    BTW, how did you know it was lead paint? (apart from the age?)

    I will have to see if I can find the Peel Away you mention. Where did you buy it?

    Edit - I just checked the internet, and it is available at Haymes Paint stores - and there's one not too far from me.
    Last edited by Eggles; 31st Oct 2006 at 12:38 AM. Reason: further info

  11. #11
    Senior Member woodsprite's Avatar
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    Just wondering, have you tried soaking the paint in metho? Have found that it softens old paint where other stuff won't touch it. Have just finished stripping some 55 year old hardwood skirts and meths did the trick as far as softening the stuff that was on the boards. Then I scraped the tricky bits witht he end of a blade from a stanley knife. Always worth a shot anyway - and meths is cheap!
    Mongrel of a job all the same, but keep at it.

    Jeff
    Life is just a leap of faith
    Spread your arms and hold your breath
    And always trust your cape

  12. #12
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    We've used citristrip with scotchbrite pads with some success on our cedar mouldings. You can wash out the pad with a bucket of water. here's a pic of how our skirts came up:

    regards,
    Tote

  13. #13
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    Default Removing lead paint

    Hi Eggles,
    I haven't tried citristrip myself (must be about the only one!). I had someone do a demo of Coopers on a piece of our skirting board with the same paint as the architraves, after telling me this was the best out there, the guy spend a good 20mins scraping at it to get a result nowhere near what I got with the peel away.

    We have a mate in the environmental field who gave us a box of lead testers, I think they are around $20 to buy a pack of 20-30. They look like crayons. You break the seal, chip a bit of the old paint then rub on the liquid, if it goes red there is lead there and bright red means a fair bit!

    The best deal I got on peel away also from Haymes suppliers - was $150 for the largest tub available, it does the equivalent of x5 doors both sides. I found with our thick paint I had to leave it on double the recommended time to work (suggest test stripping it first, you can buy a small tub for this). You also need to buy the right one for your paint type. Lead paint is best done with Peel away 1. You also need to buy neutraliser. Good luck

  14. #14
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    Well here it is nearly 18 months later, and the job STILL isn't finished. I tried the Peelaway - it didn't do a bad job, but was it messy! There are still paint remnants on the window architrave, although I got most of the paint off the door architraves. I gave up though, as it seemed I was fighting a losing battle, so the woodwork has sat for a year and a half unfinished. One day I might have another go.

  15. #15
    Novice untried Ian Wells's Avatar
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    3M make a scotch bright wheel that goes in a drill, excellent for final clean before sanding just make sure you ventilate as the dust is sure to contain lead
    "I love the smell of linseed and gum turps in the morning"

  16. #16
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    Thanks Ian - when I get enthused, I'll give it a go.

  17. #17
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    Take them off and send them to a paint stripper.

    Tools

  18. #18
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    Exclamation 18 months on....

    Hi Eggles,
    We ended up with a great result after Peel Away but have since discovered a guy that takes stuff and dips it for you. its not cheap: $120/ door (and too late for us anyway) but fantastic result and minimal effort if you're really over it! He is based in Sydney - inner west but I'm sure there are others about.

    An interesting aside on the lead paint. We ended up with lead levels above the recommended through the process of restoring our timber (we did doors, architraves and skirters). Not such a drama for adults but if you have kids or planning a pregnancy even low levels can cause very serious developmental/ learning issues. What we didn't know is that the wood after stripping still has lead in it (it is sealed in by 2 coats of paint - we used oil-based). We were sanding the bare timber thinking it was safe and relaxed too much with our masks - anyway live and learn.

    If your paint is earlier than 1970's it is likely to be lead based. I wouldn't leave your partially stripped wood uncovered if there are kids about.

    Anyway good luck and hope you get through it eventually!

    PS we are still 2 months off finishing our renos if it makes you feel any better!

    Cheers
    Joister

  19. #19
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    Hi Joister

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and advice. Fortunately no kids round here, nor am I planning there to be (my 'kids' are now in their 30s). But I will be aware of the lead in the sanding dust if I ever get back to working on those architraves. I think I'll be long gone before that happens.

  20. #20
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    For those that are considering peelaway (the only method I would use from now on for my house) here are two tips- choose the right peelaway (there is a non-caustic marine one (9?) that doesn't really need protection, doesn't fur cedar or pine and doesn't need to be neutralised), and be aware that it went through umpteen layers of paint, but will stop wherever the paint base (acrylic, oil) changes..

  21. #21
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    Am I the only one reading this thinking why not just rip the old stuff out with a crow bar and toss it. Then buy some nice timber, and use a router (buy a couple of specialist router bits) and remake the profile. I guess you will need to buy or borrow a router table. Rest is easy.

    I've done my share of stripping and sanding. Never again -life's too short and the results may not justify it.

    Those Victorian profiles are easy to do with moulding planes too.

    Arron

  22. #22
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    Noticed the age of this post? . . . reckon they might have found the fix by now . . . Then again it was 18mths between the earlier ones!

  23. #23
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    Default This is the stuff

    Been using Coopers on skirtings last week. With a bit of patience, its so soo good! Not messy and most importantly, Non Toxic. Thats worth paying a bit more for alone. Have tried other stuff, you need a gas mask the fumes were that bad. 120 years of paint (including lead), black japan and varnish have come off and now they look brand new.

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