The Balusters are Heating Up

I had high hopes about all the progress that would happen when I switched to the paint stripper that burns skin. The post about it was to be called Toxic Love. You’ve probably already gathered that I was unimpressed. I’d put it on, have a beer (very important) while the paint alligatored. And then scrape off just one layer, leaving the next one down more ghastly and blistered than the last. It looked like it would take a solid 5 coats to get this off.

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So I got even moodier than I was last week. Saturday morning, while the stripper was doing its work, I went to the corner café (because beer before noon is simply not done) and ran into an old friend who I haven’t seen in at least 5 years even though she happens to have moved like a block away from me. But it gets better. Her partner loaned me his heat gun.

And I had written off the heat gun before (partially because my dad’s broke and I didn’t want to buy another one) but it works AMAZINGLY. Usually pulls off all the paint. Down to bare wood. Sometimes a foot of it in one scrape! The removed paint stays hard and solid and not dusty. Also kind of fun, when I stripped the box newel at the top of the stairs, a little sap bled out of the wood. Amazing how new it looks as I’m pretty sure it’s 80 years old. Also, you can see that the Shop Vac took over the railing’s role as interim towel bar now.

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This changed things. In a big way. Then even better, on Sunday a friend came to help me because he thinks paint removal is fun. So now the upstairs railing is essentially complete! (A few hard spots where the two railings overlap are still goopy.)

And the stripping is marching down the stairs. Does it look better yet?

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And here it is an hour and 15 minutes later.

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I think you can see in that last photo how much thinner the balusters look without the paint. Even when I knew it had to come off I didn’t appreciate just how bad this paint job was. And now I can see that the balusters are a weensy bit crooked. But I guess that’s as it should be. So before the paint-wax-goop look is gone forever, here’s one more look.

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Now, I should admit that I scorched the wood a bit. The heat gun worked really well on plain square paint grade pine posts, but if you have trim that deserves to be stained, this could be dangerous. And it would be hard to get it off anything with curved details in it. We’ll see how the newel at the bottom goes. It looks like at this rate I’ll be stripping the handrail itself (to stain) before long!

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9 thoughts on “The Balusters are Heating Up

  1. Jo

    Oh, heat gun, yes. Why didn’t we think of that? Still lots of work but you’re getting the desired result — and your entourage is growing and getting better. The newly dieted railing against the brick looks fab. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

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  2. Mary Elizabeth

    I thought you had already tried a heat gun, so I didn’t suggest it. And when you’re done, you can melt the cheese on top of your dinner entree. 🙂 That’s what my DH uses it for!

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  3. infinitequery

    I love,love this home you are so laboriously creating Chad. It’s like one of those old movies where the lead female is considered yucky and she takes off her thick glasses unwraps a head full of gorgeous hair and emerges a raving Beauty, who of course gets the guy, Usually Rock Hudson
    Your Grand Lady is emerging-wait till she lets her Hair down!. As a previous commenter commented,,,,,,,,,,,,,WOWZERS!

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