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.
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.
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?
And here it is an hour and 15 minutes later.
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.
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!