Posted by: Katy | March 24, 2008

A Serious Dilemma


I have a problem.  I want to redo my bedroom.  The situation is desparate.  I know that there is beautiful old cypress wood beneath the layers of paint covering the moldings and trim.  Why, oh why, did the previous owners paint over this beautiful woodwork?  They left the living and dining rooms unpainted, thank God, but now I have to deal with about 7 layers of paint and varnish on all the woodwork in the bedroom.  At first, I felt ambitious.  I was going to strip the paint off the entire thing, come hell or high water (and in Broadmoor, saying come hell or high water is not a joke).  I began with a heat gun.  It stripped off the paint miraculously well but caused so much smoke that all the alarms in the house went off and ADT had to call to make sure I was okay.  I had to air out the entire house.  And let’s just say my lungs weren’t the better for it.  Next I tried sanding, but the dust and debris goes EVERYWHERE!  Especially in an old house, where who knows what those many layers of paint contains, this is a problem.  Then I tried a chemical stripper.  Not only did this take FOREVER, but it also didn’t really work.  Also, it was really messy.  Now my lungs, my allergies, my patience, and my aching muscles (scraping away paint is not exactly easy work) are begging me to find an alternate solution.  The historic preservationist in me cringes at the idea of painting over the woodwork yet again.  Plus, I’m not certain it would even look good if I did that.  But something has to be done.  The paint is stained, peeling, cracking, dirty, and overall unattractive.  What to do?  I’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.  What if I were to paint the trim, molding, and doors (there are 3 doors, one to the dining room, another for the closet, and one to the bathroom) a dark brown?  Or is that the craziest idea yet?  I have limited time and funds and also medical issues (i.e. allergies and a desire not to suffer from smoke inhalation again).  I must think of something. . .



  1. Sounds like a big job but will be well worth it in the long run. Resist painting it brown if you can.

  2. It is a job! It took 2 people a month of 6 hour days to strip the woodwork in my dining room,
    BUT if it is cypress I agree with Stephen, it would be well worth it.
    Is it possible to remove it and have it dipped?

  3. Have you tried a soy paint stripper? The smell is supposed to be next to nothing so you can use it inside.
    I grew up across the lake – good to see people who still have faith in Louisiana and old houses!

  4. Definitely worth scraping. I just read on one of my other favorite blogs about a comparison of various paint stripping techniques:

    Stained wood trim is gorgeous and worth the time.

  5. I am finishing the last piece of our bedroom (the closet door). I can’t say it is easy work and we lived through it (my wife complained all the way) for a year. I tried a number oif different experiments with stripping and you can see them on the site. We both love the outcome though and think it was worth it. Just keep thinking of the day it will be done.

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