Nothing works to strip paint from window moulding


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Old 02-28-09, 06:23 PM
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Question Nothing works to strip paint from window moulding

Sorry, this is long, but I want you to have all the info ...

I have several large windows in a condo that is in an older building built around 1900. There is pine moulding around these windows that has been painted over several times---so much so that some of the fluting down the sides and the little flower etchings in each top corner are filled in with paint.

I want to strip off the old paint and either put a light stain on the wood or if the wood doesn't look that great, paint the moulding again---stripping the old paint will restore the detailing in that case.

I bought the biodegradible, less toxic type of stripper and tried it on a small piece of window moulding in the bathroom. It worked fine, took off about three layers of paint down to the wood.

So, I applied the stripper on the moulding around one of the living room windows. I scraped off about three layers of paint. The last remaining layer was a thin, hard, dirty white layer.

I applied the stripper and nothing happened---no bubbling, didn't penetrate at all. So I asked around and it was thought that this last layer may have a lot of lead in it.

So I tried a stronger one of the gel-like, less toxic strippers---no effect.

Then I tried a special stripper made specifically to remove lead paint ("Leadout")---no effect.

Then I tried the toxic stuff ("5F5") on a small area---no effect.

In all cases, the stripper never penetrated, as if it was metal or plastic or something other than paint. If I scraped (or more like "gouged") hard with a metal scraper, I could scratch the surface enough to see that there is wood under this mystery layer.

The only thing left to try is a heat gun, but I don't want to use that. I'm also afraid to sand it in case there IS lead in that coating.

At this point, I can live with painting over whatever that coating is, but before I throw in the towel, can anyone guess what this last layer of paint could be that has resisted all attempts at stripping? Maybe it's not paint? Maybe it's paint enhanced with some kind of bonding agent? What could they have used in 1900?

Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-01-09, 04:24 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

I don't know why the strippers aren't effective on the last remaining layer of paint/primer. More than likely at least some of the paint is lead based! Care should be used to clean up all the paint debris. I'd be leary of doing any sanding on the remaining paint. While you could protect yourself during the sanding with a respirator it would be hard to contain and remove the dust from the work area.

Any particular reason you don't want to try a heat gun?

Sorry I couldn't be of more help
 
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Old 03-01-09, 07:03 AM
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5F5 is my stripper of choice because it works on everything. It does have a hard time with Zinnser stainkill however. If your woodwork is indeed circa 1900 it is assuredly painted with a lead primer. Give the 5F5 one more try, let it sit a half hour and then use steel wool or a bronze brush to try to remove the last layer, sometimes people aren't patient enough to take full advantage of the stripper. Whether it works or not wash the surface with alcohol and you should be set to paint over it. Having done the amount of stripping I have, and I just don't like doing it, I always recommend matching and changing the woodwork if people have the skills, as I would you if you were looking for a stain finish. This summer, after 31 years of living in my house, I decided to change the clapboards on the back of my house rather than strip the paint off, one day to remove them, two days to replace them, I doubt I could have stripped them and had as nice a finish product.

Good Luck,

Billy
 
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Old 03-02-09, 11:14 AM
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Looks like milk paint is the answer ...

Thanks for the welcome and the suggestions. I will try the F5F again if the other the suggestion doesn't work. Read on ...

I posed this question in a painting forum as well and all three replies suggested that it's probably a layer of "milk paint". Apparently in the 1800's into early 1900's, they added milk and lime to paint to make it seal and cover better and because it was cheap.

Milk paint it turns out, does not come off with standard paint strippers. You have to use this stuff called PDE, made by Behlen. The good news is that this stuff seems not too expensive and is less toxic, and apparently I don't have to worry as much about it being lead paint---although I will still be careful in that regard.

In case anyone else runs into this problem, the best price I found online was at Olde Mill:

https://www.oldemill.com/store/produ...roducts_id/116

Thanks again for taking the time to read through my question and supply answers and insights.

- Bob
 

Last edited by OnlySemiHandy; 03-02-09 at 11:28 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-02-09, 01:54 PM
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Ah yes, caseine paint, ususally used on walls, but I imagine a casing or two got the treatment. When mixed with cold water, much like calcimine, it would wash right off. When mixed with hot water, it was murder to get off, but it should come...
 
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Old 03-02-09, 03:16 PM
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I'll let you know the outcome, but in the meantime ...

I wonder what they used for milk back then for this purpose and whether a certain grade comes off easier than another:

2%? ... 1%? ... skim? ... fat free?

 
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Old 03-03-09, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by OnlySemiHandy View Post
I wonder what they used for milk back then for this purpose and whether a certain grade comes off easier than another:

2%? ... 1%? ... skim? ... fat free?

Probably right out of the cow...now what was the cow eating....
 
 

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