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I am remodeling a house that is over a 100 years old. I want to keep the home as original as I can. The house has a huge wrap around porch with seven 8 ft high 12 inch diameter fluted columns supporting the porch roof. All of the wood on the columns are in good shape. There are small chunks of old paint allover the column that was not completely scrapped off and painted over & over again. Some as thick as a 1/16 of an inch when I knocked a few pieces off with a wood chisel. I bought several brands of paint stripper, one claims it can take off 10 coats of paint, but they barely put a dent in the old paint. A wire brush on a drill does nothing. Any ideas how I can strip off this old paint without damaging these old columns? If I repaint them as is, they will still look bad up close.
 

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My first thought is to make a scraper that fits in the profile of the groove, then scrape out each groove.
Another option is to consider some kind of sand blasting, there are less abrasive options.

Chemical strippers always seem to perform less than expected and take longer than expected.

Sure you will get a ton of warnings about lead paint.
 

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If it's cold right now, I wouldn't bother with chemical strippers, just go for heat - Scipio has the right link.

Chemical strippers can work really well. A major point is to cover the stripper with plastic sheeting (if it's compatible) and come back the next day (sooner, with some strippers). Don't bother doing a heavy scraping just use profile scrapers to take off what's loose, then reapply and cover again. The last strip I use something like peel away 7 or another thickened solvent based stripper to get the final bits of paint out, and a final solvent wash.

This doesn't have to take a lot of time, but it does take a fair amount of stripper and painter's plastic (if the stripper is more or less compatible with the plastic).
 

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You have to watch which chemical stripper you use, the stuff at Home Depot is crap. Refinishing doors it takes 4-5 applications where with the zinnser brand (stripease I think) it takes 2-3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the ideas. I will try peel Away on one of the columns and a heat gun on the other. I agree with the fact that Home depot paint strippers are crap. I tried two brands last week. They didn't put a dent in the columns and it took two or three application to remove old varnish.
 

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Heat gun and scraper and a bunch of labor hours.

I have done an entire 2 story house. Took 3 guys 2 months every day all day to do the house. Looked good when done.

 

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Could of built a new house, or resided it.
Customer gets what the customer wants.:thumbsup: She payed so we did :laughing:

I tried like hell to sell a reside and paint but she was admit that she wanted to keep the 100year old wood siding.

Cole
 

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Don't forget the lead in paint factor on this job (almost a certainty). If you already signed the contract and you're informed it's a lead hazard removal job, then you may be in for more than you bargained for.
 

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I've got a friend who is an old-school painter. He has done some scraping for me. It's amazing to watch this guy work. He shows up with a hand held propane torch, a few scrapers and a file.
He puts a new burr on his scraper every 5 minutes or so and just goes at it.
Without any exaggeration, he probably would have that column ready to sand and prime in 30 minutes.
Pretty incredible to watch.
The last thing I hired him for was the outside of a wooden entrance door....after 5 minutes he was done.
 

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100 year house the epa would have a field day as soon as you put heat to it. Make sure no one wears masks and definitely no coverings for the floor. Also use some cheap shop vacs and good to go.

This is what gets me mad. I'm sure you've already checked for lead so this probably doesn't pertain to you. But most people don't follow the rules making the guys that do look like rip off artists to Joe Schmo home owner when our price Is 40 or 50 percent more.
 

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Torching takes almost everything off fast, but not milk paint. Torches and high heat guns are prohibited unless those columns test lead free.

Edit - If that's your residence and you're the homeowner, have at it.
 

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Edit - If that's your residence and you're the homeowner, have at it.
Good point.

Peel Away and covering the goo with paper to make it more effective as it works on the paint, ya I looked into that once.
I've stripped trim like facia board and stuff, but used a heat gun. I looked but didn't find much feedback on stripping it using that method (covering the stripper gel with paper overnight).

I hold back when bidding on jobs needing the paint stripped down to the surface. The big time restoration companies will carefully remove large sections of trim (intact) and send it out to be dipped in a large vat of phosphoric acid.

I've done my share of paint stripping. Here's an anecdote. I stripped down someones wood banister stairwell. They wanted it natural wood. I did good...even tho what a mess it was to do, but there were stains that wouldn't strip out, no matter what. I learned those oil stains can only be removed by dunking them in phosphoric acid. Big time restoration companies do that, and charge a lot. I ended up having to explain this to my customer, he paid me to paint back over it. Lesson learned.

If those house columns he showed were part of a historical monument or something, they'd either partition the whole area off and bead blast it or take some columns off, shore up the roof with timber, then haul them away to be dunked. Big bucks are charged.
 

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Robie said:
I've got a friend who is an old-school painter. He has done some scraping for me. It's amazing to watch this guy work. He shows up with a hand held propane torch, a few scrapers and a file. He puts a new burr on his scraper every 5 minutes or so and just goes at it. Without any exaggeration, he probably would have that column ready to sand and prime in 30 minutes. Pretty incredible to watch. The last thing I hired him for was the outside of a wooden entrance door....after 5 minutes he was done.
That's illegal in the US now if it's lead paint. There's been more than a few houses burned down that way too. It is fast tho. Scary, but fast.
 

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I have used Peel Away 7. As for the picture you showed you should use Peel Away 7 I believe its the strongest they make. I found that if you use 3M Painters Plastic instead of the paper they give you it will keep the Peel Away wet longer so it will eat thru 100 years of paint, it will even remove milk paint. I stripped a garage door that the paint was a 1/16 thick.
I put the Peel Away on so it was about a 1/8" thick, I used a 2" plastic putty knife, Then I cut the 3M Painter's plastic 4' by 3' sheets then I covered the stripper I made sure to overlap the plastic sheets by about a inch. Then I let the Peel Away sit for 48 hours then I used 4" and 6" plastic Bondo knives, then I washed it down with garden hose and plastic scrub brush, I let it dry for two days then stained it and finished up with two coats of spar marine varnish.
 

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He used paper and didn't like it. He didn't listen to me about it, but maybe he'll listen to you about using plastic. It works with many strippers, not just the peel away series.
 
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