Category Archives: coats and finishes

Door decor

There are a couple of tasks on this project always lurking in the shadows, following you around no matter where you go. One of them is stripping generations of paint from precious items.

I am not telling the story of paint stripping the original doors again, instead let’s talk about the delightful hardware that came with the doors. Well, delightful if you have enough creativity to look through the layers of paint.

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The hardware got dismantled and stored without much thought – we had bigger fish to fry at the time. But thank God we we had the mind to save and store it. Looking at the pieces now, we began to realize that these were small, unique treasures.

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How do you get the paint off of them? I was told its simple. Find yourself an old crock pot, throw in the paint covered hardware, cover it with water and let it simmer for a day. Once everything has cooled down, the paint flakes right off. A few strokes with a wire brush takes off any remaining residue.

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This is one of those “too good to be true” moments, but it actually just worked that way. Marvelous!

Did I mention that we saved everything including all the brass screws? That enabled us to put the plates and knobs back up just the same way we took them down.

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Now, we not only have beautiful 100+ year old solid wood doors, but we actually can open and close them. One step closer to make the 1st floor feel like a home!

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Lacquering what I like

The paint has come off, and now needs to get back on. Although it won’t be paint – it will be clear, VOC free lacquer.

Having gone through a couple of tubes of wood putty and many sheets of sandpaper, I was ready to dust off the vertical trim and start lacquering.

Two coats, with a drying time of six to eight hours between each coat. The lacquer brings out the beautiful warm white oak color and adds a nice sheen to the trim.

I stay mindful about our health and safety as well as the immediate and long term indoor air quality (IAQ) and kept using the VOC free Acrylacq by SafeCoat. No solvents, no nasty fumes or smells. Why would I ever want to use the conventional, VOC based paint products?

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Paint removal – Part 8: Sustained sanding

Imagine yourself being on a repetitious job, daydreaming away. What would you do if you turn around and face this:

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  • Realize that your day dream turned into a day nightmare?
  • Question whether all the sanding had a negative impact on your sanity?
  • Debate the sanity of your co-worker?

Well, I have to say that Drew isn’t shy about being comfortable at work. I bet he put those goggles on just to freak me out. A little bit of fun goes a long way during a monotonous job!

I don’t know how many linear feet of vertical trim we sanded and then sanded again.

The good news is that we got that pile moved out the way. The bad news is, there was another pile behind the vertical trim waiting for us – the architraves or entablatures that sit over all the doors and windows.

They are composed of a main board, with a little ornamental bead at the bottom and an elaborate crown molding at the top.

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The crown moldings are pretty delicate and a lot of them haven’t survived. All that was left are the bead and the board – although it is sometimes hard to spot the bead under all that thick paint.

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I removed the layers of paint a couple of months ago. Drew now took on the task of sanding the boards and beads.

Yes, it is a lot of work. And yes, we think it is worth it. Re-using the original trim and moldings does fit right into our salvaging philosophy and enthusiasm. And the reward will be very gratifying, as we have experienced with our 1st floor unit front door.

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Paint removal – Part 7: Vertical trim

The restored baseboards look beautiful – but are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is a lot more trim waiting in the wings – a whole lot more!

Cathy once explained how the manages overwhelming projects like the trim cleanup and restoration. She breaks it up in small manageable chunks, and focuses on one of those chunks at a time. I came to find out that this really helps. Plus there is our friend Drew, who earned the master sander badge!

I finished the paint removal on the vertical trim that flanks the windows and doors earlier this fall. From here on, the tasks progress (or degenerate) from tedious to ultra tedious.

It starts with picking off any small blobs of paint, followed by a first sanding with rough sandpaper removing any residue. The trim has lots of nail holes, all of which need filling with wood putty. Sometimes there are splits that we have to glue back together or small sections of trim are so beaten up that I have to cut them out and patch.

Once that is addressed we went back with rough sandpaper, hitting all the spots we fixed, and finally got down to adding a nice finish with fine sandpaper.

It turned out that I enjoyed this work more than I expected, despite its tediousness. Every step in the finishing process revealed more beauty of this 100+ year old trim. With every step in the process, you realize you are working on something special.

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Adding a touch with tiles

If you read the recent posts about the kitchen backsplash installation, you may have noticed that we left a gap at the stove location. That gap was reserved for something different – a special kind of backsplash tile.

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During one of our many excursions hunting for salvaged materials, I came across a handful of beautifully painted Mexican style tiles. At the time I didn’t know where I could use them, but I bought them anyway, certain that there would be just the right place for them.

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The backsplash behind the stove has become that place. Another place that tells a story about frugality and the charm that some salvaged materials have to offer.

Why did I wait this long to do the installation? I needed to wait until the range hood was installed. The bottom edge of the hood was the starting point along which I lined up the tiles.

I often observed and admired artful ornaments, such as hand painted plate hung above the stove. In this case, Cathy and I decided that the whole backsplash behind the stove could become artful with these unique tiles.

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