Tuesday, 14 May 2013

To strip, or not to strip......

My workroom makeover is proceeding very s-l-o-w-l-y.

I had anticipated that Phase 1 - stripping the horrid orangey varnish from all the cupboard doors would take exactly 5 days.  There are 10 doors at 2 a day = 5 days. Simples.


Thus far I have achieved something less than 1/10th.  Which is to say, not even one door.
This is because polyurethane varnish appears to be second only to cockroaches in its indestructibility.

I naively assumed that any common or garden paint and varnish stripper would do the job in no time at all...... lickety split.

But no.  I don't know what I was thinking.

After 3 applications of the new Eco stripper (water-based, solvent-free, no harmful fumes etc etc etc) I am left with a blotchy finish on the one door I started with.  Yes, a tiny amount of the varnish has been removed, but around 95% is resolutely hanging in there.

And before anyone else suggests it, sanding the varnish off is a non-starter, partly because the doors have mouldings and rebates which would be a nightmare to sand, but primarily because our electric mouse sander has gone to the great power tool graveyard which exists at the back of our understairs cupboard.

I've seriously considered abandoning the whole stripping thing and going for a shabby chic painted finish instead.  But the doors are a lovely solid oak, and when I did a 2" square test patch on the inside of one of them, the Eco stripper did a sterling job and revealed a lovely pale wood which I intend to treat with a limed oak and wax finish.

Quite why the 2" square sample came up beautifully but the whole door hasn't is a mystery. Perhaps the Eco stuff only works on tiny bits at a time and gets exhausted if it has to tackle an entire cupboard door at once.

If this is the case I know exactly how it feels.


Having religiously followed the instructions on the tub, and on the helpful You Tube video in which a chap strips 15 layers of ancient paint from a dresser in record time and is still smiling at the end, I'm unconvinced I'm dealing with the same stuff.

I've left it on for the recommended time, which achieved nothing.  I've left it on for 30mins, then an hour longer, with only marginally improved results.

So today I'm going all out and will brush on a thicker layer and leave it overnight.  

What's the worst that can happen?  It's hardly likely to melt the door.  Hopefully, tomorrow morning, I can scrape off the stripper to reveal a fully stripped, non blotchy, varnish-free cupboard door.

If not then I will have to resort to Plan B. 


Susan said...

I'll bet you're dealing with 2 part epoxy type varnish, not regular urethane.

Sandra Morris said...

You mean to say there's an even WORSE kind of varnish?

I have no idea if it's epoxy or not... the doors belong to some base and wall kitchen units which were an end of line sale item years back. I only know that the doors are solid oak and could be beautiful if/when I get rid of the varnish.

Susan said...

The two part resin style varnish is HORRIBLE stuff. You might have to have advice from someone as to what would shift it, it would probably shrug off your eco-friendly remover. I hope you get it sorted.