Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is it weird...

That I really enjoy stripping paint? I mean, don't get me wrong, the dangerous lead issue is no fun. However, watching the paint bubble up, and then scrapping it off in ugly, lead infested ribbons makes up for the hassle. It's a little like Christmas: what is the grain going to look like under here? Oh! I think there's a knot coming up! Look at that tight, old-growth grain! Wow!

Kevin and I have been taking the lead thing seriously lately. Me, because I would like us to be able to reproduce someday (not any time soon, mom), and Kevin, though he wouldn't admit it, probably has the same thought. Also, the other things lead paint does to you aren't pretty.

For this project, as prep, I laid down cardboard, brought up the saw horses, the shop-vac (it's like our second pet, it goes everywhere with us), respirators, all of the tools I could think I would possibly need, and a fresh set of work clothes. This is a big part of lead prep. Once I seal myself in, I don't like to leave. This is what I did for this room:
I used duct tape (none of the door frame wood work has been stripped, so I don't care about wrecking anything) to seal the door way on the top and right side. Then I used tape rolls on the left to make an opening. The plastic also overlaps the doorway. On the floor, I tape about half-way, then use a cardboard box to weight it down. It's not a perfect seal, but after working, when I leave the room, I can't smell burning paint fumes, so it must work.

We keep our work clothes in the room for the duration of the project. We take off whatever we're wearing and leave it outside the door, then go in and put on work clothes. And of course, like all the cool people, we both always wear our nifty respirators. The other thing we do is use the shop vac periodically as we're working to get all the chips we can up as we go, so there's less chance of stepping on them and crushing them.

This is the heat gun we use. It is on loan from Kevin's uncle, Jim. Thanks again, Jim! It has variable heat settings that are really useful. It tells you the temperature it's set at. Which is especially good if you know that lead fumes vaporize at 1100 degrees. It also blows at high and low speeds. It's a Wagner, but we haven't seen one like it at any of the hardware stores we frequent, though we forgot to check Seven Corners last weekend (I just looked in the catalog, and they have similar models). We love it, and it's been put to good use.

Basically, our process is this: I strip a section with the heat gun. Kevin comes behind me and uses 0000 steel wool and denatured alcohol to get up any bits the heat gun missed and to take the old shellac off. This is what it looks like after I run over it with the heat gun: That is the closet door, and no, I'm not leaving the panel like that, I was just doing the easy flat surfaces first. Anyway, see the bits of paint? Now Kevin comes along this is what the wood looks like after he is finished:
Pretty, huh? It's pine, really nice old growth. This is a shot of the profile of the two pieces of molding, yet to be stripped. There's also quarter round. You can see how they fit together if you look at the shot above. There's about three layers of paint, and one swipe with the heat gun (if you're as good as me) usually takes it right off. It helps the wood has shellac on it underneath the paint.
We are kind of trying two methods with this room. Half of the molding was taken off for the electrical project, so some of it we are stripping in place and the other half we're using the horses for. Believe it or not, I think it is more comfortable to work on the molding in place. We pry it slightly away from the wall so we can get the edge really clean, but we don't risk cracking the molding.
Also, when it's on the wall, I don't bump my head on the slanted walls as much.

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