The main motivation for repainting my house at this time was the paint that was literally falling off. This means that in order to paint we have to strip the woodwork. I would normally have done this first and then paint everything after but the winter is coming. I didn’t want to spend all that time scraping paint off to run out of time and then have old wood exposed to the snow all winter. So the rest of the house got painted and I have been going a little bit at a time on the trim, only exposing as much as I could get repainted before winter. Not ideal but what are you gonna do.
Getting paint off of wood is quite a job, even for someone who loves it. And there are many options. Chemical strippers are effective but messy, and toxic. The scraping is only part of the job since the clean up is a huge pain. There are grinders and various other contraptions that all work with various levels of effectiveness. Trust me, I have read a lot on this.
I picked the Speedheater. It is an infrared heater that you point at the paint for 30-60 seconds which softens the layer closest to the wood so that it can be scrapped off easily. When the scrapings cool they harden and can be swept up easily. There is no chemical to neutralize and globs of melted paint to deal with. The heat doesn’t get warm enough to vaporize lead if you have a lead paint problem. It also takes off a ton of layers at one time, and from what I could tell at least 12 in my case.
There are disadvantages too. It’s very hot so when it’s August and 85 and you are holding it above your head I suggest you wear gloves. I was not in the beginning and when my hands started to sweat they slid on the handle and I screamed lovely words when the 500 degree metal hit my arm. It’s not heavy but when your arms are already tired from the scraping for hours this thing feels like a ton. And lastly it’s not cheap, but depending on the size of your job the price for a large amount of chemical stripper may not be either.
Part of the trim, especially the horizontal pieces that tend to have water sitting on them, was so soft and rotted that I just used a putty knife and gentle scraped. I found that if I used the proper pull style paint scraper it shredded the wood. It probably took a lot longer this way but my arms lasted longer. I think most people who watched this would have laughed at how gentle I was being and maybe that’s from all the furniture I refinish. I just really wanted to do as little damage as possible.
Here is a before on the window and porch sill in it’s cracking paint glory:
So here are some pics of my scraped trim:
As you may have noticed, I have only scraped the face trim and the first part of the inside window trim. This was also a time precaution. I got the outside part done while it was warm enough and I can then cover the window with plywood and take the window sashes out later. They will need to be scraped and glazed which is a whole other mess that will be dealt with later. It’s neverending really.