What to do with way too many layers of paint on floor and ceiling molding?
Have a vintage condo. The floor and ceiling trim have been painted over what seems like, a million times. :furious:
It's chipped, broken and all around nasty.
What should I do? Remove it all and start over? Sand it all out and paint over it?
Big question is if the trim and crown are real wood and if you want to have a stained wood look when complete. If it is real wood and you want to keep the wood, you would start by stripping the coats of paint with something like Circa 1850. Keep repeating the stripping process until the most of the wood is exposed, and then work the paint out of any corners or grooves and then sand and stain. If you just want the final product painted, personally, I'd rip it all out and replace it (likely with an MDF equivalent). If your replacement is smaller than the original, you may need to do some patch and paint work to blend under the old trim/crown with the exisiting wall finish.
If it is clogged up the detail no longer shows through and it is chipped, gouged and dinged so any repairs would not be noticed? You should probably think about stripping it. Careful though. Depending on how vintage you may have lead.
Cover your skin and wear some sort of disposable clothing. Abate the lead according to local regs or call in a pro.
Now then. Some of the gel strippers will chew through multiple layers of paint at once so ask the paint store, not the box store chattering orange apron, for recommendations.
Out of Scandinavia has fairly recently come a gift from God in the form of an infrared paint stripping technology. The tools based on it are safe and easy to use and centuries of paint will peel off with minimal effort. They are expensive but you can rent one from a well equipped tool rental place. Or, you can even rent online.
In either case, you will need really sharp scrapers or you could hurt yourself. I have a nice contour scraper set I keep stocked with different shaped blades and a contour sander as well. I have a nicely weighted flat scraper for flat surfaces.
You may want to consider pulling the trim off, marking it for reassembly, stripping it, and putting it back in place. It will be easier to work on on top of saw horses that it will be along the base of the ceiling or floor.
Decision time? If the trim is really in bad shape, and it is old pin or fir and nothing special like oak or something? You might end up just having to replace it. Shop your local building materials supplier, not a box store, for you best options.
All good advice ^^^^^^^above. If it's really in bad shape, you are going to be further ahead to just buy new, paint it, and install it. The time, trouble, and patience required to strip old woodwork is gonna bring you lots of LONGSUFFERING. I love old woodwork like anyone else, but, if it's gonna be a pain to strip and start over.............you're gonna be way ahead to start from scratch.
I don't remember ever having a client that aimed to strip layers of paint off of soft wood hoping to have nice looking natural wood trim to stain and varnish/poly at the end that was not dissapointed. Oodles spent on chemical strippers and hours and hours spent in the meantime.
The infrared and gel chemical strippers make it easier to have a peak at what you have though. Sometimes when you get all off but the paint stuck in the grain you can get lucky with a coat shellac and then stripping it and hopefully the paint adhered to it out of soft grained woods. Odds are not in your favor though. And if you send it out for stripping and the vendor does not recycle and filter the chemical you can get kind of gray looking trim back. Fine when primed and painted I guess. Replacing it will have been cheaper.
I will say I often get lucky. The trend to be fashionable and paint over hardwood trim and even pocket doors caused many to do so without primer and proper prep. You can sometimes scrape paint right off with a sharp scraper and end up with a really nice staircase, door pair, etc.
When stripping remember that the more aggressive you are with abrasives (e.g. power sanders, scrapers, shavers), chemicals and even the infrared equipment the more you are melting pigment and providing opportunity for it to embed in the grain. Always see how far you can get with basic hand tools first.
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