Whether re-decorating or restoring, one of the toughest tasks faced by the home owner is stripping paint and other finishes from window frames and trim. It can be a difficult task or one that is quite easy depending on how many layers of paint or how complex the shape of the trim molding.
It's a Four Step Process:
- remove the old paint with a chemical stripper or by sanding
- prepare the surface by repairing any defects and sanding smooth
- prime the surface and sand smooth
- paint to the desired color
There are some common tools that will help make this job easier. A common paint scraper is all that is needed if all you want to do is remove old loose paint and paint over the surface with a new fresh coat paint. If you plan on removing all of the paint, you'll not only need that scraper but also some Synthetic Steel Wool, Sandpaper, liquid or paste paint remover as well as safety items to protect your face, lungs and body from splashes and dust.
A Note of Caution is Important Here.
If you are doing this work on an older home that you might think has been painted with lead based paint, it would be best to have a paint chip tested for lead. If it comes back positive, hire a professional to remove the paint. You can do the rest of the job once this dangerous material has been removed from the site.
Here are some simple steps to preparing the surface for a great looking new finish.
Step 1 - Remove the Paint
Use a scaper to remove loose paint chips and sand smooth. For tough jobs with multiple layers of paint use a chemical or citrus stripper and Norton's Coarse #2 Synthetic Steel Wool to remove the majority of the material then sand to remove the rest of the paint and leave a smooth surface. Be careful not to gouge the wood as it will only require extra work later on to fill and repair those gouges. Use 3X Sandpaper - extra coarse 40 grit for heavy removal jobs and 3X Sandpaper - coarse 60 grit for moderate removal jobs. When only a light coating of paint has to be removed start no coarser than 3X Sandpaper - 100 grit. The coarser you start the more you have to sand with finer grits to get a smooth uniform surface. Let the sandpaper do the work. Don't apply too much pressure. New sandpaper is very sharp.
Step 2 - Prepare the Surface
Now that you have removed all of the old paint you need to sand the surface smooth removing the coarser grit sanding scratches and or to smooth any damaged areas that may have required filling with wood putty. If hand sanding use a piece if wood, cork or the ever popular rubber sanding block sanding block to hold the sandpaper. It will help you generate a smooth flat surface. To get into tight corners, you can fold a piece of sandpaper over itself and use the exposed edges to get into those tight areas. For this step and for most woods used to make window frames and trim, you will need to start sanding with a 3X Sandpaper - 100, 120 or 150 grit sandpaper finishing with 150 grit to leave a uniform smooth finish that will help the primer bond to the wood. For large flat areas, this job can be sped up by using any of the popular ¼ sheet (4-1/2 x 5-1/2), 1/3 sheet (3-2/3 x 9) or ½ sheet (4-1/2 x 11) sanders.
Step 3 - Prime the Surface
To get the best results in any painting project is is important to prime the surface with a primer compatible with the paint or finish you have chosen for the final top. A sealer not only helps to "seal" the wood and protect it but it is usually less expensive than the final material and helps to bond that coating for better longer lasting results. After applying the primer - let it dry then sand it smooth using a No-fill clog resistant sandpaper like Norton's 3X Sandpaper - in Extra Fine 320 grit. This will remove any dust that may have settled on the surface while the primer was still wet as well as remove any wood fibers that may have risen when the coating was applied. This is a common occurrence when using water based finishes on wood and removing these "raised" fibers will ensure the smoothest finish. Now you're done and ready to apply a new color.
Step 4 - Paint the Piece
Follow recommended procedures from paint manufacturers for the best results.
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