Strip Act

Warning: This post contains photos of nude doors. If you object to this material or live in a country where viewing it is illegal, please click here.

Now I wanted to set this post to music but I have bigger fish to fry than making my web site nice, so just play this music while you read if you’d want to set the mood right.

You’ve heard about my interior doors before; I’m finally getting around to restoring them. Three of them had been painted and were pretty gross looking on one side. Having them stripped wouldn’t be cheap so I decided to suffer through it myself.

I’m using SoyGel, and pretty happy with it. It’s thick like syrup, has very little odor, and didn’t hurt my skin. I put it on last night, covered the doors with Saran wrap, and then stripped them today. Here’s roughly how it worked:

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Hey there

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Oh yeah

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Take it all off

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Sexy!

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That door got two coats of SoyGel. The second coat got off most of the residue except what was in the grooves in the middles of the panels. I let the second coat go while I was stripping the others and didn’t bother with the Saran wrap. It didn’t need it. One door that I think was originally on a bathroom had so much paint on it that I did Saran wrap it to strip again tomorrow or Tuesday. The Saran wrap prevents the stripper from dripping down the doors, so if you’re going to stand things up without using it, put something down to protect the floor (see the lower right corner of this photo). I washed the door after with a damp wash cloth, which I needed to rinse a good dozen times.

Going forward, I need to finish off the rest of the doors, and then they have dents, holes and gashes all over them that need to be filled (will have different handles than they originally had) and we’ll either need to fill in the notches where the hinges were or trim them down on that side to take the gouges out. And then I’ll have to buy my woodwork, all of it, and bring in a bunch of furniture and spray everything white.

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14 thoughts on “Strip Act

  1. Mary Elizabeth

    Wow, quite a difference, Chad! Good job. Now that you have the doors stripped of paint, it appears that the original varnish was never properly sanded before the painting, and that may explain why the paint layers peeled and chipped over time. Assume you will give them a good sanding after the patching.

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    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yeah they were pretty gross, so I’m glad I saved my $$$ (for something else) and did this myself. One thing is the chemical stripper was really good at getting the old varnish off. The gloss that you see in the photo is because the door was still wet. I can’t sand those little grooves too easily. At this point it’s looking like all the doors, including the ones that were never painted, should get at least one coat of stripper, they’ll all need some holes and dents filled, and they’ll all get at least a light sanding. I’m figuring this out as I go along. I’ll say this though, they’re looking so good with the paint off that half of me wishes half of me (the half that doesn’t see the damage all over them) wishes they could be left stained.

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  2. Mary Elizabeth

    Yes, Schoolhouse, those be some mighty handsome doors!

    Chad, for the grooves, I use (very carefully) an Exacto knife, blade just barely extended, to clean out any chips, etc. I tried once some stripper on an old toothbrush, with fairly good results. You could revarnish them, flaws and all, but how badly do you want to finish your house? 🙂 Also, they might not look so good when all the woodwork is new and white. I think your idea of painting them the same color as the woodwork will work best. Later, if you like, you can paint the panels a different color than the rest of the door, to match the decorating colors in the rooms, for example.

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  3. lifeonhillst

    Haha – love this post! We haven’t gotten to doors yet, I’m kind of scared. Good to know you found a stripper you like (lol). We hated every stripper we tried on our stairs and have thus avoided the doors. But you’ve motivated me – I’ll get some SoyGel and let you know how it goes! Great work – I can’t wait to see the final product 🙂

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    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      yes I’m very happy with it. Of course it varies depending on what paint you have, but I had lots of bad paint with varnish underneath and in two coats it got down to new wood. One door that I started with Citristrip, the parts I had successfully stripped before now look worse than the parts I hadn’t. One thing – if you have a lot of varnish, it turns into goo. Save a GLASS jar to scrape/ladle the goo into. It ate the solo cup I used first.

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  4. CindyH

    I hear you about half of you wishing you could have stained doors – the wood is so nice on them. They will still be beautiful painted.

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  5. copaschen

    Nice work. My Aunt used to own a business called The Town Stripper. She had a big vat of serious stripper and would dip things and refinish them for people. People in Herndon, IA loved her and her business. I have no idea how she disposed of all of that stripper.

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  6. gusmom

    A good trick for removing those stubborn bits of paint and varnish from trim is to cut an old credit card into shapes that allow you to get into the grooves. You can even use a hole punch on the card to create a perfect little scraper to get around beadwork. Basically just trim the card to fit the area you are scraping as closely as possible. Wrap it in soft cloth if needed for some areas. Once you have gotten as much cleaned out as possible, you can use a very soft wire brush for removing the rest. If it looks like the wire is causing scratches though (especially because the stripper can soften the wood), maybe try a natural bristle paint or stencil brush trimmed short to stiffen the bristles. Natural bristles won’t disintegrate with the stripper compound.

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  7. Kathy Bo

    Great door! Loving your blog- and thank you so much for your reply to my doors post. I think I’ll look into getting that ornate one dipped- it may have some lead paint on it!

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    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      They probably both do. But if it’s totally not peeling at all, it’s probably fine as long as no one chews on it. Lead paint wasn’t phased out until 1978, and the average American home was built in ’72, so half of us probably have lead paint somewhere.

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