I have done my share of stripping paint over the past few years. When your house is over 200 years old there are always more than a few coats of paint on the woodwork. I have used strippers and they are pretty caustic and never give me quite the results I expect.
My brother-in-law is a painter, glass blower, jack of all trades kind of guy and he is always giving me tips on how to make my renovation projects easier. A while back he told me he had started using a heat gun to strip the moulding in a house about the age of ours and the results were amazing. I had Bill get one through the tool guy at the shop and began my first project of stripping the paint off of the floor in a bedroom upstairs. The result was nothing short of amazing.
I didn’t fully appreciate how amazing this tool is until I began stripping this door yesterday. This is one of the doors to the library that has been painted at least 5 times, the last coat being latex (which is a totally different issue). Most of the paint when heated just popped right off in huge flakes. It was a mess to clean up but I had most of one side of the door stripped in a matter of a few hours. Mind you this needs to be done in a room wide open to the outdoors with an exhaust fan going. Fortunately yesterday was above freezing.
This door has some holes that will need repairing. The hinges and thumb latches need to be replaced as well. Williamsburg Blacksmiths is a local forge that produces the reproduction hardware for this period home using the same methods probably used when the originals were made. They are perfect. Hopefully by the end of this week I will have this door done and be working on the other. Then onto the door casings. Both of the doors in the room do not close so I’m hoping taking them down, stripping them and rehanging with new hardware will fix the problem. My sneaking suspicion is that a lot of it has to do with the paint, but new hinges will certainly help.
The photograph was originally taken for the 100 Happy Days project I’m working on with a number of family members. I was thinking how happy I was to be using this tool but the more I thought about it I realized that when you’re stripping woodwork the only happy part is when you’re finished.