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Forum topic by domlebo1 posted 08-14-2014 01:34 PM 1434 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1917 days

08-14-2014 01:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing refurbishing veneering sanding victorian

Hello all!

This is my first post. I am pretty new to wood working. I do a little here and there. I have moved into a beautiful Victorian apartment in Philadelphia. I live in the old library of a mansion (1883) that has been converted into a loft apartment. With it comes a plethora of intricate woodwork.

Over the years some geniuses decided to paint sloppy thick white paint over all of this wonderful craftsmanship. I want to remove it, and let the wood’

s true beauty take hold. It would be an immense undertaking. I am looking for feedback here.

I imagine I would first apply some chemicals to remove the paint, then I would need to sand it. then I would need to stain and finish it.

I have included some pictures here of what I am working with. If anyone knows what would go into this it would be greatly appreciated. Also, these pictures do not really do this thing justice, let me know if I should take more in depth photos or take some samples to let you know what I am dealing with here.


22 replies so far

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3226 days

#1 posted 08-14-2014 01:51 PM

First of all – WOW! Now, check out this non-toxic paint remover I hope you can take enjoyment in hard work and the resulting beauty, it will be worth the effort!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View b2rtch's profile


4897 posts in 3583 days

#2 posted 08-14-2014 01:58 PM

Some of the wood might not be wood but plaster, especially the decorations on the ceiling and it is not enough to strip the paint but after you need to clean all the intricate design, that will take you for ever.Been there , done that , not on such large scale.
I do not say that to discourage you but may be you do not realize how much work that would take you.
In addition if the wood is painted it might be because it was “cheap” wood to start with.
Start small, try the remove the paint in one corner to see what you have under.
I have used an “orange” paint stripper sold at home Depot, it has been working very well and it is not toxic

-- Bert

View skatefriday's profile


453 posts in 2018 days

#3 posted 08-14-2014 02:55 PM

I’d say you are very likely to ruin a good portion of that artwork. And from that era
a lot of that has to be plaster.

And despite what all the citrus strip claims are, you won’t want to be living
in a space while that stuff is on the walls and ceilings.

I would gently, very gently clean it as well as I could, and then leave it alone. It’s
beautiful and I’m jealous.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2021 days

#4 posted 08-14-2014 03:10 PM

Even if you knew it was all wood. You’re probably looking at months of work. If you have no job.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View knotscott's profile


8343 posts in 3911 days

#5 posted 08-14-2014 04:08 PM

I’d suggest a test run with a small area to see if it’s really wood, and to see how well it goes. If it’s plaster, the decision is made for you. If it’s wood, you may change your mind if a test spot takes hours….

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View ChuckV's profile


3244 posts in 4062 days

#6 posted 08-14-2014 04:24 PM

I hope this does not sound like I am being flippant. Are you renting this apartment? What does the owner think of the idea? How long do you expect to live there?

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2084 days

#7 posted 08-14-2014 04:35 PM

That would be a massive undertaking. I’d assume layers of paint, with it’s age. Stripping millwork and antiques is quite labor intensive, but refinishing on-site might be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. Living in the mess would be a nightmare IMHO. I’ve used many non-toxic strippers…none seemed to work or it took forever to get any results at all. Gel methylene chloride would do it. It’s toxic, nasty, but quite effective. You have to follow up with a rinse to de-activate. It’s a messy ordeal.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4183 days

#8 posted 08-14-2014 04:40 PM

If you want it to look like wood, grain it. That’s a faux
finishing technique and it’s period appropriate to
Victorian homes.

You also should consider that the work may have been
paint grade to start with.

View oldnovice's profile


7504 posts in 3903 days

#9 posted 08-14-2014 05:01 PM

I would get in contact with some of the local experts on historical buildings of that era to possibly find out how these looked originally and which ones are plaster before I did anything because you might be waisting time and effort.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2608 days

#10 posted 08-14-2014 08:04 PM

+10 on being plaster, +10 on “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS” +10 on months and months.

LEAD!! some has been said about toxic strippers, but remember, most of the layers of the paint is likely to have lead in it.

Last: as others have pointed out, it is likely it was never intended to have the kind of ‘crisp’ look we are used to in the modern era. Yes there are beautifully crafted homes in all eras, but many higher end were ‘paint grade’ in nature, and that term meant a lot different then than now.

-- Who is John Galt?

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4120 days

#11 posted 08-14-2014 08:16 PM

I have to agree with most of the above.You are likely if your like me,( when I was younger ) to get tired out half way through and wish you had never started.IMHO of course .
Anyway would it cost far too much to get in some experts with equipment to tackle this .I am thinking of possible light bead blasting or similar. I expect it would be too expensive.You don’t say if you own the property if not you would need to check with the owner if your ideas are sound if you do own it you could maybe get a hgrant towards the work. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2896 days

#12 posted 08-14-2014 08:25 PM

Citristrip. DO NOT SAND!!!

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View skatefriday's profile


453 posts in 2018 days

#13 posted 08-14-2014 09:17 PM

Others have noted that you mentioned apartment.

Playing devil’s advocate, and not to be a hard* or anything, but
I am a landlord and if that was my building and you modified
any of that without my permission I would have you in court
very, very quickly asking for restoration damages and I’m pretty
sure I’d have a sympathetic judge.

Note that letting your tenants work on your building is a
really, really bad idea that I discovered oh, about two weeks
into being a landlord when stuff passed code enforcement
inspection prior to being “worked” on and then did not
after being “worked” on.

View Tony_S's profile


1027 posts in 3618 days

#14 posted 08-15-2014 12:47 AM

Get yourself a can of paint stripper….brand doesn’t matter, but make sure it’s a metal can.

Bring it home with you, and with the can in your hands,(both hands)stand directly in front of the area that you’d like to start.
Take a deep breath….and then proceed to smash yourself in the forehead repeatedly with the can of stripper….then go fishing.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2490 days

#15 posted 08-15-2014 02:07 AM

Gorgeous work! I stripped the paint and glue off the floor of a poorly carpeted bedroom that had gorgeous heart pine floors underneath when I was in college. That started in august, I finished in October. I also pissed my room mates off quite a bit in the process.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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