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0413apr 09-05-2010 10:58 AM

Removing Interior Latex Paint from Doors
I have 9 interior pine doors (smooth finish -- no design detailing) in my house that for decades have been painted with interior semi-gloss latex paint. These doors are in need of a new coat of paint but I don't want to paint over the existing layers of paint. What's the best way to remove the layers? Thanks.

Nestor_Kelebay 09-05-2010 04:01 PM

Well, if there isn't a lot of design detailing on the doors, the fastest easiest way I've found to remove paint from flat surfaces is with something called a "Nestor Scraper", named after it's inventor, yours truly.

To make a Nestor Scraper, you simply grip a single edge razor blade

in the jaws of a pair of needle nose style locking pliers

and then dull the blade in a belt sander (or on a piece of fine sandpaper. You want to dull it enough so that it won't cut into the wood at all. The duller, the better, but try to dull the blade evenly.

Now, use a heat gun to heat the paint in front of the scraper and just shave it off the door. When I do this, I typically shave off all the coats of latex paint in one pass, and then go back and shave off all the previous coats of oil based paint. Latex paint softens up more than oil based paint when it's hot, so that I can tell which is latex and which is oil based.

In your case, I'd spend the extra money and get a good quality heat gun with electronic temperature control so that you can turn down the heat setting so as to avoid scorching the wood. Cheap heat guns only have two settings; Lo and Hi, and the Hi setting will leave scorch marks in wood. Low works better, but it might not be hot enough to allow you to work fast.

I highly recommend the Milwaukee Model 8978 heat gun:

It's light enough that you can hold it in one hand all day without getting sore wrists, it's shape allows it to be propped up at the back so that you just have to move it forward as you work and it'll blow hot air onto the surface you're working on, it has 6 temperature dial numbered from 1 to 6 with a stop between each number for a total of 11 temperature settings, and a variety of accessories are available for it, including a concentrating nozzle.

You will find that your razor blades will eventually stop working properly and want to cut into the wood on one side or the other. What's happened is that the metal blade has warped from the heat, and you have to dull a new blade.

If you're planning to repaint the doors, I'd recommend you use an INTERIOR ALKYD PRIMER and an INTERIOR ALKYD PAINT on them. Doors take a lot of wear and tear, and you want a paint that dries to a hard enough film to stand up well on the door.

0413apr 09-06-2010 01:50 PM

Thank you.

Nestor_Kelebay 09-06-2010 02:30 PM

If you're wanting to varnish those doors after stripping the paint off, then don't use the Nestor Scraper as the risk of gouging the wood is high. If you're painting, you can always fill in a gouge with some wood filler, but that's gonna show through varnish.

If you're going to varnish, then use one of these tools instead:

It's not nearly as sharp and is much less likely to gouge your wood.

handyguys 09-07-2010 12:56 PM

too often we give the advice asked without asking the 'why' questions.

Why? If you are re-painting, and the paint is in good condition, just go ahead and re-paint. If you want to go back to a wood look then that's a different story.

Nestor_Kelebay 09-07-2010 03:28 PM


Originally Posted by 0413apr (Post 48279)
These doors are in need of a new coat of paint but I don't want to paint over the existing layers of paint.

Yeah, what you're saying would normally be true, Handyguys.

But if the guy states that he doesn't want to put another coat of paint over the 9 coats already on the doors, then that's good enough for me. It's not necessary for me to agree with, or even know his reasoning in order to answer his question.

ambisiusdiy 09-13-2010 11:41 AM

hm.. He said that there are some layers of paint; I just hope that he doesn't try to heat a lead base paint. Maybee it is a good idea to try to go with some wet hand scraping/sanding

taperguy71 09-16-2010 11:16 AM

Hello, If you want to keep the mess of paint scraping contained i suggest you remove the doors, lay them on a couple of sawhorses, and use a paint stripper. I prefer stripease semi paste, but if you don't like harsh chemicals the are safer alternatives on the market at your local home store. Just brush on liberally wait a few minutes and start scraping. You'll have to sand them before painting but you will with any kind of scraping.

HDAnswerman 10-21-2010 10:24 AM

I am Mike, a store associate with The Home Depot in California. Iíve taken many a layer of paint off in my day. I have found that using a paint stripper is the best method. At The Home depot we have several different types of paint strippers. We offer a citrus based as well as a water based product, which are very safe to use.

Apply the stripper, let it set for about 10 to 15 minutes. The stripper will cause the paint to soften and bubble up off the surface. Use a wide putty knife and scrape away all the loose paint. You may need to apply a second coat of stripper if the paint is especially thick. Finally wipe of the stripper with a wet rag, and allow the door to dry. Then you can sand and repaint. If have added a couple of examples of products you can use below.

Citrus based paint remover by Citristrip. Water based paint remover by Motsenbocker
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I hope this information is useful to you!

Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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