Monday, November 16, 2009

Step Two: Stripping the Paint

Note: I should probably back up here a little bit. If you are not sure whether or not your house's woodwork was originally finished or painted, test a small area with either stripper or a heat gun. If the paint slides off easily, and you can see the wood underneath, you have finished wood. If it is harder to get the paint off, or if the wood has paint "in its pores" and it has a whitewashed look, it was originally painted.
Tools You Need (From top to bottom):
  1. Respirator: Kevin and I tend to be overly cautious maybe when it comes to safety, so go at your own risk. Personally, I kind of like the respirator. Also, it's a lot easier to breath for a long time in a respirator than in a dust mask. Just don't sneeze....
  2. Gloves: The temperatures can get pretty hot when using heat to remove paint, so a good pair of leather gloves is important. FYI for good quality leather gloves that fit small hands (or oddly shaped hands) go to Ubers .
  3. Goggles: just to be on the safe side. A burning paint chip in the eye just sounds really painful.
  4. Pull Scraper: The one we have has a lot of angles (convex curve, concave curve, right angel, point etc.). It works well for curved and detailed pieces.
  5. Five-in-One: a stiff putty knife would do the trick, too, but my five-in-one has a blunt blade, meaning there's less chance I'll nick the trim.
  6. Heat: We recently purchased a Silent Paint Remover, and though they cost a lot, there are deals to be had. We got a deal on ours at Ebay.
It really does work a whole lot faster than a heat gun, but our trusty heat gun still has its advantages over the SPR sometimes (hard-to-reach corners and details). Why no chemical strippers? For one, that can get expensive. Two, they're a mess. Kevin wrote his one and only blog post about stripping a door using various methods, and I think it is a good case-in-point.


I will also talk briefly about how to use the heat gun, for now I will focus on the SPR.

Find a good, heat-proof surface to lay the SPR on when not in use. I actually just worked on my basement floor, but I did get sore after a while. Choose a flat, no frills board to begin with. Put on the respirator and gloves, and turn on the SPR. Once it's heated up (only a few seconds), place the SPR on the board you want to strip. It has a nifty arm that can make it rest at an angle if needed, as seen in my pictures.
After a few attempts, you'll get the hang of how long to leave the heat on the board. If it's not left on long enough, the paint won't come off, and for whatever reason, it always seems to come off best with the first pull. If left on too Basically, when the paint is bubbly and smoking a little, take off the heat. Note: you should also know where a working fire extinguisher is, and maybe even keep it close, just in case.

Once the heat is off the board, work fast; it cools quickly. Take the scraper and either pull or push the paint off, depending on the type you are using (the wood handled one in the picture is a pull scraper, the five-in-one is a push).
Get off what you can in the first pull, then heat it up and go again.

If you are using the heat gun, it's more of a fluid motion. With one hand you hold the heat gun, and the other you use the scraper. Move slowly along the board pulling the heated paint with you as you go. The heated paint should be bubbly and smoking a little.

At the end, your boards will look like this:
Don't worry, they don't stay this ugly.

ONE LAST SAFETY NOTE: The SPR should be used with its protective screens in place. It keeps the heat at a safe distance from the wood. The heat gun should be used on the lowest effective setting. Both of these tools have a real and serious risk of starting a fire if not used properly. Yes, we at Bungled House have started fires with both. Both times we were being stupid. And yes, I did it twice before changing my method. Please be safe. And learn from your mistakes the first time.

As always, if you have comments and or advice, please write!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting the Nails Out

This is what I love about the houseblogging community. At the time I wrote that first post in the series about removing the woodwork, I had only removed a few nails. After doing quite a few more, I realized I could have written a whole lot more on the subject of proper nail removal.

And then...

I checked the blog and discovered Bennington Colonial had done just that! And recommended an awesome tool that we are totally getting. It is actually made to pull nails out of wood through the back. So please check out Bennington Colonial's post if you are going to take off your trim.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Series Will be Interrupted....

By the house's not-so-subtle hint that our efforts should be focused on the disaster that is our kitchen.

Here is the kitchen sink on the day we bought the house. Notice the backsplash (how could you not)? That's drawer liner, not wallpaper.

This past weekend, we had dinner guests, so of course, the faucet cracked and started leaking.
This put us in a dilemma, that I'm sure many of you have faced. This room is obviously on our to-do list. Or, to be more specific the gut-to-the-studs list. I don't really want to replace things right now, I want to do it in a couple of years in one glorious purging of our bank accounts. So I went to the Orange Store.

Orange Store Employee: "Can I help you?"
Me: "My faucet cracked apart. I was hoping you had a replacement part."
OSE: "Is is a Moen or a Delta?"
Me: "It's an ugly faucet from the seventies."
OSE: "Maybe you could call the company?"
Me: "I don't think it has a company."
OSE: "Would you like to look at our new faucets?"
Me: (sigh) "I suppose."

Now at this point, we had to make a decision. Either replace faucet with a cheap one, or go all out and buy one that we actually like and hope it will work with our remodel plans in the future. We opted for option 2 (Kevin didn't like the 3rd option I posed, which was to just gut the kitchen and be done with it). We reasoned that buying a new ugly faucet only to replace it in a few years seemed wasteful, and we had a pretty good idea of our future faucet needs anyway.

So, early Sunday morning (before doing the dishes, which in hindsight could have turned out very badly), we set to work removing the old faucet. Only to realize that in it's forty years of service, the particles of food and rust had joined together and welded the faucet in place. So Kevin did what anyone would do in a similar situation: he brought out the Sawz-all.
With the old faucet finally out of the way, the new faucet could be put in:

It's like looking at a beautiful swan surrounded by a psychedelic swamp.