Like I promised you in my sliding barn door post I’m back with a little tutorial on how to remove paint from an old door. Hunting down that elusive old door for our living room has been an ongoing project for the past 5 or 6 months. We scrolled through many many Marktplaats (Dutch Craigslist) ads and visited a few building yards in our area. We didn’t want to go too far to find that door so that meant that our search took a little longer. We found our perfect door at a salvage yard one town over about 2 months ago.
I didn’t want any ol’ door. It needed to be a panel door without glass for one. Of course, not any kind of panel door but a specific one with. Sometimes it’s good to hold out and wait until you find THE one. It sounds a lot like dating :).
Before we could install the door we had to strip all the paint off first. I always wanted to have the door just bare wood so I knew we would be stripping or sanding the old paint. Just in case the wood was in very bad condition I did think about colours I could paint the door with instead.
I wanted to talk to you about three methods we’ve tried for removing paint off of wood. To start off make sure to either work in a well-ventilated space or outside like we did. Wear protective gear like a face mask, goggles and work gloves. For all these methods start with a clean and dry piece.
Using an electric sander will make your job much easier especially if you have a big piece of furniture or a door to sand. Start out using rough sandpaper to remove the bulk of your paint. Switch to finer sandpaper to get a smooth finish. Make sure to follow the grain of the wood when sanding. If you don’t you will make scratches in the wood. After sanding remove the wood dust with a duster or brush. Clean the wood with a wood cleaner like my favourite St Marc’s. Now you can go ahead and repaint or varnish.
Chemical Stripping Method
Always follow the instructions that come with your paint stripper for best results. There are roughly two types of chemical strippers. Liquids that come in a spray can and pastes that come in a tub. You will need a paintbrush to apply the paste to the wood. You can be generous with it. Brush the paint stripper on in one direction. Do not brush over areas that have already been covered by paint stripper. After applying the stripper all you need to do is wait for the allotted time and then scrape off the paint with a scraper or painters spatula. Then sand your project with fine sandpaper and clean it as the instructions suggest.
Heat Gun Method
You will need a heat gun and a paint scraper for this method. Position the heat gun about 15 to 20 cm above the painted wooden surface after you switch the heat gun on. Don’t leave the heat on one specific spot for a long time otherwise, you will get burn marks or even cause a fire. We don’t want that! What you want to do is move the heat gun around on a small section of paint to warm it up. You will see it start to bubble up. Now it’s time to come in with your scraper and scrape all that paint off. Don’t wait too long to scraped that section of paint off otherwise the paint will harden again and you’ll need to start over again with that section. After all the paint has been removed you will need to sand the whole project with fine sandpaper. This method works well when you have a large piece without much details to do.
Which method did we choose?
Our door had 3 layers of very old paint on it. We tested out the 3 methods above but ended up using the heat gun method. Outright sanding was too hard of a job with all these layers so we axed that right away. We had a little bit of this chemical stripper left so I tried it but was not impressed. It did very well on one layer of paint but did not penetrate all the layers. We ended up using a heat gun to remove the paint. Well actually we started the job and our heat gun died on us ugh. So we had to get a new one. I was really happy with this method. We worked outside so no mess inside and all the ventilation you could need.
I was really happy with this method. We worked outside so no mess inside and all the ventilation you could need. After all the paint was removed we still had a little residue left over. It looked like dried up glue. The door wasn’t looking great’you guys. I was already making plans to paint the whole thing. But then we tried sanding a section and the wood cleaned up nicely. So that’s what we did all over and the result is great. I love it!
Have you ever removed paint from an old door or wooden furniture? Which method did you use? Where you happy with the results?