Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


My Chemical Romance

Here’s a brief glimpse into my day:

Me: I stripped paint today!

My friend Brian: Who is paint and why did he/she let you strip him/her?

Have I mentioned I love my friends?

But back to the point, I did strip paint today. I bought a bottle of Citri-Strip months ago, but I’ve never stripped paint before. I decided to try working on the windows outside because it’s October now and soon it will be too cold to work on the outside projects. Unfortunately, by the time I gathered all my supplies and got the ladder level enough to work on, the sun was going down. But I just wanted to see how the stuff worked so I applied some to a side window and waited the 30 minutes recommended on the bottle. 30 minutes wasn’t enough to really get a full layer of paint off, so I did a larger area and waited an hour. That took off quite a bit more. Here are pictures:



My test area ended up kinda big for a test area, but what’s the worst that could happen? It’s already paint I want to remove.

Safety first, people!

The directions on the bottle recommend a scraper like this:

But I had more luck with a razor blade scraper that I made sure had been dulled on a previous project so it wouldn’t gouge the wood. I wouldn’t recommend this for anything delicate, but on this straight, solid piece of seasoned wood with at least four thick layers of paint, it was a real time saver.


After an hour it looked kind of bubbly and shriveled.

So I started scraping.

It took off one good solid layer of paint, but that’s all. Incidentally, the wood trim on my house used to be slate blue, kinda nice!

It got dark and I had to pack up and go inside, so I thought I’d see how the chemical stripper worked on interior paint. Rather than just test some random spot, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and take care of a problem we’d been having ever since we moved in.

Our bathroom door has been painted with so many layers of goopy paint that it will no longer close. I truly believe that the lady living here before us never really closed her bathroom door because she lived alone. We have two VERY nosy cats, however, who just can’t wait their turn, so a properly closing bathroom door is a MUST.

I applied a layer to the inside edge of the door:

And the doorway:

This was interior latex paint, so 30 minutes was plenty of time for it to work:

Again, the plastic scraper wasn’t quite satisfactory.

The razor blade worked much better.


After I’d taken two layers off, I used a coarse scouring pad to dig out the corners and scrape the edges clean.

Then I used a rag with mineral spirits and wiped down all the surfaces I’d scraped. I didn’t go all the way down to the bare wood because after I took two layers of paint off, the bathroom door was able to close! It was getting late so I called that a step in the right direction.

Brandon knows someone who’s going to loan us a heat gun to try taking some of the paint off. There are so many layers of paint on everything here that if the heat gun works, I’ll probably use it on the first couple layers and then use chemical stripper to get the rest really clean.

One final note:
The Citri-Strip claims to be a lot more friendly to the user because it doesn’t give off the harsh fumes that other paint strippers do. In fact, it has a really pleasant citrus scent. Don’t let that fool you, though! It still gives off fumes that can be dangerous when it’s used indoors. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t getting enough ventilation until I started feeling lightheaded when I was working on the bathroom. I opened a window and everything was fine, but it definitely snuck up on me.

But I did learn that I really enjoy stripping and I do plan to spend a lot more time doing it! 😉

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2 Responses to “My Chemical Romance”

  1. October 10th, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Nate says:

    Unfortunatelly, after a short time I’m sure you’ll fall out of love with your chemical romance, and that time will come when you first weild a heat gun. I’ve named mine the ‘flame thrower’ and it was only $40 from Menards, but you’d have to kill me and pry it out of my lifeless clutches if you were going to steal it from me! It also works for removing old glazing compound from window sashes when applied at a low heat so as not to crack the glass. I’d say don’t borrow, just invest in one for yourself. I’m pretty sure I got my money’s worth out of it before I even closed on the house just restoring salvaged materials.

    I’ll have to try the Citri-Strip when I get around to stripping my staircase (2009? ha!) because the stripper I had used was smelly and didn’t really work too well.

    Happy stripping!

  2. October 10th, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Steve says:

    Remember to follow lead-safe work practices when you are dealing with paint. If you suspect that one or more of the layers on your door may contain lead paint, you should use a low setting (typically below 1100 degrees) on the heat gun. Lead paint can vaporize, creating hazardous fumes!

    We used Citri-Strip on our stairway to remove several layers of brown paint that covered everything (newel post, treads, railing, spindles, and risers) – what a job, but the wood underneath was in beautiful shape for the most part.

    Have fun!

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