Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trim Magic!

All you people who were hoping for actual how-to tutorials on house renovation, today is your lucky day!  I recently learned the coolest method for stripping trim and I couldn't wait to share it with you.  (OMG, I have officially turned into a home renovation nerd!  I think stripping trim is cool.  Ugh.  Feel free to de-friend me on Facebook now.)

In our 110 year old house, we have a LOT of trim.  Let's see...10 rooms, 14 doorways, 27 billion windows = a metric sheeton of trim.  Most of this trim is in pretty bad shape.  My personal favorite paint job:

It's a little hard to see, but clearly someone painted over a previously heinously chipping paint job, got done and thought "oh yeah, that totally looks good!"  Who are these paint heathens?  I want to smack them.

So needless to say, in order to paint them correctly, we need to get the old paint off.  Turns out there are several schools of thought on stripping paint.  First are the "sandpaper only" people.  These are the masochists.  Sanding paint is unbelievably hard.  These are also the people without complicated molding.  Our molding has very fine details which could easily be obliterated by using any sort of motorized sander.  Sanding 27 windows and 14 doorways by hand?  NO THANKS!

The next school of thought is are the "chemical strippers".  Not like go-go dancers in gas masks, more like crusty old men who came of age in the 70's and think its fine to lather your home in a compound so toxic it makes paint melt.  Leave that stuff on there for an hour or two, long enough to breathe it in real deep, then wipe it off, and repeat until you have paint free windows.  Unfortunately, I'd really like to have non-mutant babies someday so this is also not an option.

The third school is the "heat it and treat it" school.  This involves taking a heat gun to the paint until it gets soft and bubbly and then gently separating it from the wood it has been hanging on to for the past several decades.  This school appeals to the bubble-wrap popping side of me.  It is much faster than sanding or stripping and becomes a game of how clean you can get the trim.  It does give off some chemical fumes, but not nearly as much as chemical stripping, and you don't need any physical prowess or extreme cleanup like sanding.  SO, my lazy-girl's guide to paint stripping is as follows.

Step 1.) Buy yourself a big-ass heatgun.  We got this handy sucker off of Amazon.  Ain't she a beaut?
 Industrial-like!  She's got a fun stand on the back so you can set her down while still warm.  Important note: you can't just turn off a heatgun, apparently it causes the fan to break.  This heatgun has a "hot" setting and a "fan" setting.  When you're done using it, turn it from "hot" to "fan" and set it on its back for a while until the whole thing is cool.  Then you can turn it off.

2.)  OK, find your handy piece of trim you're trying to strip.  Hold the heatgun a couple inches from the trim, and try not to point it at anything else (the carpet, the blinds cord, your little brother, etc...)  All of these things will burn and be extremely unhappy under the intense heat this thing can put off.

3.) Hold the heat gun over the paint section until bubbles start to form.

Wait until tiny bubbles become slightly bigger bubbles.

Wait for it...wait for it...when the section seems soft, slip your putty knife in at the bottom and slowly push through the patch.  Don't force, it just go slow and wait for the paint to lift off of its own volition.

Go putty knife, go!

Almost there!

Success!  Neaten up the edges while the area is still soft.

4.) Enjoy the fruits of your labor and debate whether the type-A side of you is going to make you finish the whole window.  

 (This section done in about 5 minutes.  Not bad!) 

In our case, we decided not to do the whole window since we're not ready to repaint, which could mean we'd live with the odd scabby appearance for a while.  (So instead of a whole scabby looking window, we only have a partially scabby looking window.  Which is sooo much better?)  Soon, window, I'ma show you who's the boss.  I refuse to be cowed by your chippy tyranny any longer!  We shall overcome the heinousness!  Soon...

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