A LOT longer.
I have been wanting to strip the paint of the doors and drawers on our hallway ‘linen’ closet since we moved in. They had a least 5 layers of paint, and it was really drippy and goopy, especially around the edges and the handles. It was also starting to chip off, and I was mildly worried that some of the original coats might have been lead-based paint (I did test this, but couldn’t really get a clear reading–I just made sure the paint was gone before sanding).
Since we have been having some nice sunny days, my little helpers and I took the project outside! (I really don’t know what they were doing in this picture. Probably watching bugs).
I have fond memories of stripping paint from an old piano with my mom when I was a teenager (eleven layers of paint!), I decided to give it a try on the doors and drawer fronts. Instead of the highly toxic stuff we used 20 years ago, I used Citristrip, which is safer, biodegradable, has no harsh fumes and instead smells like an orange creamsicle. It says it is safe to use indoors, but I am
sort of really messy, so I went outside. I laid all the pieces on a drop cloth and proceeded to paint on the orange gel.
Then I just used my putty knife and scraped off all the rest of the paint! Just kidding. I scraped off the top layer of paint, leaving the next layer exposed.
You can see that the first layer didn’t bubble up like my future layers did. I don’t know why…it did peel off in big sheets though. I wonder if that top layer was just too thick? Or maybe I needed an even thicker coating of Citristrip?
Then I repeated the process–three or four more times. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it, but it was a long and tedious journey over the course of several days.
I tried to use a generous amount of gel, getting a nice thick layer on the paint. I varied the waiting time from 30 minutes to 20 hours. Even though they claim the gel will remain wet for 24 hours, it was super hot outside, so the gel was drying within an hour on one of the days I was working. I am pretty sure it was much hotter than the recommended temperature on the bottle. I did try misting it with water, which helped a little. The closer I got to the wood, the easier the paint seemed to peel up, so that was a big plus in the project motivation category.
After a nice sanding, the drawers looked good, so I decided to seal them with a natural stain. I liked the look of the light wood, but it turns out that the doors were a different kind of wood, much more ‘red’ and grained.
See the difference? It became even more obvious after I applied the wood conditioner and natural stain. So I tried to blend them a bit by adding some gray stain…
…which made them look blotchy and dirty. I am not a fan of the ‘already dirty’ look, and they still didn’t go well together so it was back to the drawing board.
Because I still was convinced I wanted to see some of the natural wood grain, I decided to try a paint ‘wash’ next. I picked out a fun color because the hallway is a bit boring. I put some water in a cup and mixed a bit of paint into it.
I didn’t have a particular ratio, I just watered it down quite a bit. I planned to do several coats, knowing the color would build up a bit with each layer. This is after the first coat:
And after the third coat:
I loved how it built up without becoming thick, and you can still see the wood grain through it.
I chose to reuse the original large square pulls, since they reference the time period of the house and I liked the size. Removing the paint from them was another test of my patience, but the gel actually took most of it off on the first try.
After settling on the color for the doors, I sprayed the pulls gold, to give it a more modern look.
And we officially love it!! The color brightens up the hall without being too crazy–for us, anyway! 😉 Now everything closes so much better, and actually stays closed.
If I haven’t completely dissuaded you by this point, I will tell you that I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Just start with a small project, use a thick layer of the gel and don’t expect it to be completely finished in an hour. Garage sales and thrift stores have a ton of furniture pieces just begging for a good ‘safer’ chemical peel.