How we came to purchase our home.

WPA Photo

A Works Progress Administration photo offers a glimpse of our home's past.

Reproduction Windsor Chair

Finally, a dining room set.

No Power, No Heat.

Our first snow storm and it's aftermath, October, 2011.

Lead Poisoning

Updates to our son's lead levels.

Bit By Bit

My wife's blog on being pregnant, giving birth and raising our first child with all the complications, hardships and joys that life throws our way.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Parlor Renovation, Part IV - Paint Stripping

March, 2014...

The parlor is coming along.  It is a mess right now, but still, I can picture the final look in my head.  My wife, though she tries, is more annoyed with the time it has taken to get to this point.

I keep bouncing between different aspects of the room.  Plaster repair, wallpaper removal and paint stripping have been tackled at the same time.  For this post, I'd like to focus on the paint removal from our paneled wall.

The wall was unpainted when our previous owner moved in.  After hiring an interior decorator, the two decided (perhaps in a drunken stupor) that a dark green colored room would be best suited for the Asian themed Americana home (see here for photos before we purchased the home).  As with previous posts, it now becomes my task to undo their horrid decisions.  The panel was painted with a primer and a coat or two of that green/gray paint.  For several months I chipped away using an Amazon.com sourced paint scraper for detail work.  The results were pretty decent.  As I became cocky with my scrapping, I began to gouge the surface damaging the wood.  It didn't matter what the profile was, one slip was all it took to make the scar.  Knowing that the surfaces were painted in the last 20 years, I was confident that there was no lead in the room.  I took a test just to be sure; the result was negative.

I was about halfway through this job when I began researching lead paint removal for a future project.  This would've been for the exterior yet would also work on any painted surfaces.  The contraption discovered was called a Speedheater.  The company's advertising can be seen on youtube and on their site:  eco-strip.com.  It's a $499 tool that heats the surface, much like a heat gun or a heat plate would, except, the temperature is much less.  Since lead vaporizes above 1000degF, this contraption heats the surface to 200 to 400 degrees, just enough to bubble the paint.  Since this temperature range is far less than the vaporization point of lead, it makes sense as a lead removal tool.  They also sell a scraper kit for an extra $99.  The combined kit, for the most part, does a decent job but is not perfect.

Where the scrappers from Amazon.com were simple, effective tools; one slip and the surface was gouged.  With the Speedheater, the surface sizzled and bubbled during a 20-second exposure.  The bubbled paint came off very nicely with no gouging of the surface.  However, there were times when the process did not work.  Instead of making large bubbles that peeled away easily, the Speedheater created small bubbles that made the surface tacky and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to scrape the paint off.  Additionally, if one leaves the Speedheater on the surface for too long, it does burn the wood.  Several times, my wife would poke her head into my work area and comment, "why's it so smoky in here?" Eventually, the tacky areas, the mildly burned spots and the gouges gave way to a good sanding.  I took my finishing sander and loose pieces of sand paper and went at it.  I hated doing it, having had the desire to keep any semi-original finish, but after realizing that large portions of the paneled wall were a more recent reproduction, my objective changed to a clean, fresh surface.  I worked on the entire wall over the next few months, nearly the entire surface was bare except the dental molding.  Becoming annoyed with the tedious paint removal of the molding, I ventured to other painted surfaces.  I had previously tested the plaster walls, wood paneled wall and windows with the D-Lead lead test kit, all coming back negative.  I started removing the paint from the window trim...

...June, 2014...

It was around this time that our son had his next periodic lead test.  To everyone's surprise, it was slightly higher than last time (see here).  Everything STOPPED.  As a precaution, I washed down every surface immediately at our front entrance, washed down my tools and sealed the room.  I looked at the lead test kit I used previously and noted that the kit was defunct!  It was either expired (though it was in-date on the package) or tainted.  I have to stop this insanity, I give up!  It's my child's health at risk.  I called in three lead abatement certified painting contractors and am awaiting estimates... I'm done with the "Parlor Renovation"  ...to be continued...