Tag Archives: paint removal

Paint removal – Part 8: Sustained sanding

Imagine yourself being on a repetitious job, daydreaming away. What would you do if you turn around and face this:


  • Realize that your day dream turned into a day nightmare?
  • Question whether all the sanding had a negative impact on your sanity?
  • Debate the sanity of your co-worker?

Well, I have to say that Drew isn’t shy about being comfortable at work. I bet he put those goggles on just to freak me out. A little bit of fun goes a long way during a monotonous job!

I don’t know how many linear feet of vertical trim we sanded and then sanded again.

The good news is that we got that pile moved out the way. The bad news is, there was another pile behind the vertical trim waiting for us – the architraves or entablatures that sit over all the doors and windows.

They are composed of a main board, with a little ornamental bead at the bottom and an elaborate crown molding at the top.


The crown moldings are pretty delicate and a lot of them haven’t survived. All that was left are the bead and the board – although it is sometimes hard to spot the bead under all that thick paint.


I removed the layers of paint a couple of months ago. Drew now took on the task of sanding the boards and beads.

Yes, it is a lot of work. And yes, we think it is worth it. Re-using the original trim and moldings does fit right into our salvaging philosophy and enthusiasm. And the reward will be very gratifying, as we have experienced with our 1st floor unit front door.


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Paint removal – Part 7: Vertical trim

The restored baseboards look beautiful – but are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is a lot more trim waiting in the wings – a whole lot more!

Cathy once explained how the manages overwhelming projects like the trim cleanup and restoration. She breaks it up in small manageable chunks, and focuses on one of those chunks at a time. I came to find out that this really helps. Plus there is our friend Drew, who earned the master sander badge!

I finished the paint removal on the vertical trim that flanks the windows and doors earlier this fall. From here on, the tasks progress (or degenerate) from tedious to ultra tedious.

It starts with picking off any small blobs of paint, followed by a first sanding with rough sandpaper removing any residue. The trim has lots of nail holes, all of which need filling with wood putty. Sometimes there are splits that we have to glue back together or small sections of trim are so beaten up that I have to cut them out and patch.

Once that is addressed we went back with rough sandpaper, hitting all the spots we fixed, and finally got down to adding a nice finish with fine sandpaper.

It turned out that I enjoyed this work more than I expected, despite its tediousness. Every step in the finishing process revealed more beauty of this 100+ year old trim. With every step in the process, you realize you are working on something special.

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The race downstairs

I am racing downstairs, from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor, with the intend to get to the needed finishing touches.

Moving into the 1st floor has been within our grasp – for months! Except that I regularly got distracted with work on the 2nd floor. Enough of that. We have plans to celebrate Christmas day with friends on the 1st floor. I better bust a move to meet that deadline!

We have laid some of the ground work. Take the finishing touches to the kitchen, the range hood and addition of ornamental tiles. We finished the front door to the 1st floor unit and installed our slender closet doors. We made significant process with the paint removal and refinishing of the remaining door.


The same applies to the beautiful and tall baseboards. I have looked at them leaning against the wall for long enough and rather have them installed.

Cathy was able to carefully salvage most of the baseboards during the deconstruction. Having the original baseboards in all major rooms, where they are visible, was important to us. But we were short by a few pieces.

We solved the problem by using baseboards that once were in closets to fill those gaps. The closets, we decided, can receive other salvaged trim we purchase on the reuse market.

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Paint removal – Part 6: Digging through doors

There are several aspects to time, such as age and duration. I sometimes have to wonder if there is a proportional relationship between the two.


Take the original 100+ year old doors from our building – the age component. These are solid and heavy and had salvaging and reuse written all over them. Despite all the layers of paint we got the occasional glimpse of the buried treasure.


The process of recovering that treasure is a familiar one. The Silent Paint Remover removes the bulk of the paint, followed by a layer of Soy Gel to take off the residue.


That leaves the wood clean and ready for sanding, which is quick and easy, except for the panel profiles, particularly the corners. Those required a lot of attention to detail – and are a time suck – which gets us to the duration component.

It feels like working on the paint removal has extended the duration of our project indefinitely. And refinishing 12 of these age-old doors certainly factors into that equation.


The two coats of zero-VOC lacquer helps wrap up the refinishing and restores the doors to their old glory.

doors-01  doors-04

These doors will always be special to us, because of their quality, their age, and the time and tender loving care we put into them. This might just as well be the definition of salvaging.

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Paint removal – Part 5: Battling baseboards

The original baseboards in the building are quite something. Something with quite a little bit of paint on it.


There is a tall bottom piece with an ornate cap. The cap and bottom together stand about 10 inches tall and are both milled out of 100+ year old oak, most of it quarter sawn. And we have quite a bit of it, which is a blessing and a curse.


These were items we wanted to keep out of the waste stream. The quality of the millwork begged for salvaging and reuse.

But we also have that tedious chemical archaeology ahead of us – the paint removal. How far should we take the salvaging and reuse, and when would it be time to draw a line in the sand and decide it is not worth it?

The decision tipped in favor of salvaging and reuse once we realized that even if we could afford to purchase all new baseboards, we wouldn’t be able to find baseboards in this kind of quality nowadays.

Let the paint stripping begin!


The Silent Paint Remover usually removes the bulk of the paint, and does so at reasonable speed. But a couple hundred linear feet of baseboard take some time to work through. And we still had to apply a layer of Soy Gel to remove the remaining paint residue.


Sanding the baseboards took some time too. The flat surfaces were easy and fast. The more intricate profiles required a scraper, steel wool and time. But with each pass the wood grain became a notch more beautiful, until it was ready to get lacquered.


Staining the oak was out of the question! The natural color was part of the charm. Instead we stuck to our zero-VOC rule and opted for the clear, satin finish Acrylacq by SafeCoat. It made the warm honey color of the oak pop.

This was very frustrating but ultimately rewarding work. It was frustratingly slow and time consuming, but with payback in the beauty of the salvaged and refinished product – particularly when we consider what we started with.

trim-010  trim-014

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