Have you ever had to strip… paint off a door? (You must leave a dramatic pause after strip for the full effect! LOL. If you haven’t had to strip…paint off a door, consider yourself lucky. If you need to strip… paint, I have some tips and a tutorial for you!
Here’s the back story: My home’s doors have been purple for over 7 years. I was over the dark and wanted some vibrancy. It was supposed to be a simple project. Just paint the front doors a beautiful green (Benjamin Moore Perennial Green.) I had tested the color on my custom house mailbox. That was TWO YEARS ago! (Life’s been a little busy, okay. Forgive me, I’ve been wrapped up in a major kitchen renovation.) All I had to do was get the paint mixed and get painting. Instead, I was caught in the middle of the DIY project from HELL!
I had five doors to paint (front two doors, one side door and two wooden storm doors.) But, this DIY project was doomed from the start. My friend Holly was sweet enough to offer to help me paint. The week we were supposed to start on the doors her son came down with scarlet fever. A few days later as I was getting ready to paint them myself, MY SON got scarlet fever.
I finally got around to sanding and priming the front door. I was elated as I finally began to brush the paint onto the doors. Ahhhh. Beautiful green. I finished the first coat on the front doors. Then proceeded to the side door. When I went back to give the front doors a second coat…a problem exposed itself. Nooooooo!
The paint was NOT sticking properly. A light scratch revealed the purple paint beneath. Ugh! What?! Nooooooooooo.
The paint was easily scraping off the front doors. I was miffed. I had done all the right things. I checked to make sure it was latex paint. I had sanded AND primed. And yet the paint refused to stick to the front door. My favorite paint guy and I could only deduce that perhaps at one time a previous homeowner used a chemical cleaner that was resisting the paint.
My only course of action was to strip… the paint off down to the bare wood and start over. I was crushed, I wanted to cry. Instead, I just got to work stripping. Here’s the best way to strip… a door if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing to strip… paint.
(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)
- ForceFlex™ MAX Safety Goggles
- 3M™ Worktunes™ Hearing protector
- Chemical resistant gloves
- 3M™ LeadCheck™ Swabs
- 3M Advanced Abrasives with NO-SLIP GRIP™ Backing (150 grit & 220 grit)
- Dremel Multi-Max™ and/or Power sander
- 5-in-1 Painter’s tool
- Citristrip® Stripping Gel
- Klean Strip® Mineral spirits
- Steel wood
- Metal bristled brush
- Putty knife
- 3M™ Wood Filler
- Wet rags
- Compressed can of air
- It is imperative that you wear chemical resistant rubber gloves and eye protection while stripping paint. The chemicals (even the less toxic CitriStrip can be harmful to your skin or eyes.)
- Work in a well ventilated area, or you may choose to wear a respirator (especially when using the mineral spirits.)
- When working with power tools, like a power sander, wear adequate hearing protection. Continued exposure to loud noises even if they don’t seem loud at the time can damage your hearing.
- Always check your paint ahead of time for the presence of lead paint. If you have lead paint, wear your respirator and do not sand the paint. Strip it off and clean up ALL the paint chips and debris. Seal it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash.
- Stripping paint is a DIY project that requires you to keep children away, especially if there is lead paint.
Instructions for Stripping Paint:
Here is a fairly thorough video showing you the process of stripping a door from start to finish:
Or you can read the step-by-step pictorial version here:
Begin by brushing CitriStrip onto your door. Cover all the paint with the stripper. Try not to brush over the stripper once you have applied it onto the door.
Let the stripper sit for 15 minutes. (<—I’m trying so hard not to be corny and comment about that sentence.)
After 15 minutes (or if you see the paint bubbling), start scraping off the paint.
Rotate your 5-in-1 Painter’s tool to see which edge works best at scraping along the different profiles.
Needless to say, you will need to repeat applying stripper and scraping until you get down to the bare wood. Have patience, this process may take a while. (You can show me some sympathy as it took me three days to strip both doors. Granted, our doors had at least 5 coats of paint on them. So, there was lots of re-applying the stripper and waiting.)
Once you’ve removed the majority of the paint, use steel wool and/or the small wire brush dipped in mineral spirits to clean off more of the paint.
Using a simple putty knife can help pry out any leftover gunk out of the corners and crevices.
Once you’ve removed all the paint that is humanly possible to remove, wipe the door with a damp rag and allow it to dry thoroughly.
Repairing the door:
After the door has dried, assess your door for cracks or gouges. Now is the time to patch any imperfections.
Be sure to use a stainable wood putty if you will be staining your door. I use the same wood filler regardless of whether I’m staining or painting.
For cracks in the door, scrape or sand off any rough or raised edges. Spread the wood filler and allow it to dry. Hand sand small spots or leave them and sand it while sanding your door.
Sand the doors. Start with a 150 grit sandpaper. On the second sanding, switch to 220 grit, a finer grit sandpaper.
Use a Dremel Multi-Max with the triangular sanding head to get into all the corners and grooves.
After the sanding is done, use a vacuum cleaner to suck up most of the sawdust. Use the can of compressed air to blow additional sawdust out of the corners and crevices.
Follow up with a damp rag to wipe any additional sawdust off the door.
This is where I spent 45 seconds enjoying the beautiful fruits of my labor.
Faster than you could say strip…paint off a door, the moment was gone and I had popped open the can of primer and started over again. (So depressing.) I wish I could have left the doors wood, but they aren’t in great shape and our side door was already painted a pretty vibrant green at this point.
After the primer dried, I gave each door two coats of Benjamin Moore Perennial Green.
Yup, it only took two years and three days of stripping, but I finally have beautiful and colorful doors. The green is so pretty with my newly freshened up front flower beds. (More on that process another day.)
What is the worst DIY project you’ve ever been involved in? I’d love to hear about your DIY Hell! It might make me feel better at this point because I’m depressed that I spent an entire week painting my doors.
Disclosure: I am proud to be a 3M- sponsored blogger, and, as part of my responsibilities, I get the opportunity to evaluate new products from 3M DIY. Opinions are my own and additional product used in the project were selected by me.