Tuesday, September 3, 2013

nap time, scary chemicals and rain on my head

This project, ergo, this post was supposed to go a certain way. First there was going to be documentation, second I was going to have a nifty photo showing all of the needed materials, then there was going to be a before shot, a during shot with bubbled up paint and an after shot showing wood. A brief clean up description and done. Successful project and successful blog documentation of how I stripped the paint off baseboards in the guest bedroom. 

Yeah...that's so not what happened. But before I get to all the things that went wrong lets chat about this room. Arguably this is the worst room in our house right now. The downstairs had carpet which we pulled leaving a raw concrete floor, the paint down here is in horrible shape with lots of oil residue and streaks. There was a lot of plaster repair done leaving white splotches everywhere and all of the windows would have a lovely view if it wasn't for the fetching chain link fence surrounding them right now. But this room I have big plans for. It's going to be the guest room and I can see all of it's future loveliness in my head. And with our first overnight guest scheduled to arrive in two weeks I wanted to get cracking on this space. 
Before we set up a guest bed in here I'd like to re-paint the walls, re-caulk the window frame, add curtains, change the light fixture, clean and polish the concrete (eventually we'll add flooring down here but until then polishing the concrete is a short term cheap solution) and add a nice rug. But as I got looking at this room I realized that the walnut baseboards in this room had been painted over.
This is what they look like every where else. 

After some online research and a visit to the paint store I decided to strip the paint off the baseboards and refinish them before we painted the walls or polished the concrete.

So Sunday as soon as Margot was down for her nap I headed down stairs to tackle baseboards. The first thing I did was open every single door and window as wide as I could. Then I got all my supplies together. This is where I was going to have the great photo of all the supplies needed to strip paint off baseboards except I forgot the scrapers and the cleaning solution. So imagine this photo with a Spackle knife, a plastic scraper and some TSP cleaning solution along with what you see here, the chemical stripping agent, a small bucket to pour stripper into in order to brush it on, a cheap varnish paint brush, painters tape, protective eye wear, protective gloves and a course rag. The orange bucket has the cleaning solution.

Once all of my supplies where assembled I taped off the wall along the baseboards. The paint store guys recommended this to minimize the amount of stripper on the actual wall. 

Once the baseboards were taped off I got all of my protective gear. I tend to be a little flippant regarding my attire and protective wear during projects. Can't tell you how many articles of regular clothing I have ruined with paint or bleach over the years. However, chemical stripping agents are no joke. I even wore real shoes and socks in lieu of my standard flip flops. I also wore long pants, safety glove, glasses and a scarf to keep my hair out of my eyes. Don't I look fetching! This was especially nice when one of our new neighbors came over mid project to introduce  herself.

But enough about my clothes. Back to the stripper. Once properly geared up I painted the stripper on the baseboards in one direction in a nice thick coat. Then I waited 15 minutes. This was the part where bubbles were supposed to happen. You are supposed to apply the chemical, wait, the paint bubbles up and then you scrape. No bubbles. I waited another 5 minutes and this was all I got. So I applied a second coat as directed on the can. No difference. 

 I decided to just scrape some and see what happened.
 Paint came off! But...it left more paint. I could sort of see the wood but it was underneath a stubborn, albeit thin coat of green. I kept scraping and same result. I re-read package instructions, consulted Google and determined that I was either going to have to strip in layers or sand off the remaining paint so I resumed scraping. I used two scrapers, a regular Spackle knife for the flat base of the board and a softer plastic scraper for the groves and along the top since it's really easy to gouge the wood with a Spackle knife.
I was about halfway through the room when it started softly raining on my head and ear. At first I couldn't figure out where the water was coming from. I thought maybe the open window but then I remembered it was 80 degrees and sunny out. But then I noticed a small trickle coming from the crown molding in the room. And this is the point my project really went down hill. It was of course Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend so even though I wasted no time calling our home warranty company I didn't get very far. At that moment our friends Jeannine and Mercy came over with wine. Being my DIY mentors they know way more than me about all of this and were pretty sure the leak was coming from the intake/outtake lines from the kitchen. The kitchen is the room directly above. They explained how to turn off our water at the meter and then we all drank wine. I needed a break from paint scraping anyway. And no water meant no ability to clean up. After our wine break we figured we'd better go find our water meter. Once our water was off we loaded up Margot and walked to our neighborhood brew pub for some dinner. We thought we'd just finish scraping the paint once Margot went to sleep. Funny thing about chemical strippers is they don't work once they've dried so no paint was coming up and we still had no water to wash off all those gross scary chemicals.

The next morning we finally got the warranty company on the phone, got a plumber in and figured out what was going on. More on that tomorrow. I re-applied the paint stripper on the remaining paint, finished scraping, swept up all the paint and wiped down the baseboards and floor with the TSP cleaning agent. 

It really needs to be cleaned a second time with the TSP and a stiff brush but it was about at this point when the plumber informed he had to tear into out tile ceiling which we are concerned could have asbestos and my husband kicked me out of the now closed up room until our contractor can come take a look. So once again we have an example of how a room is going from better to worse on it's way to much much better.

As for our overnight guest, I fear she may be sleeping on a very nice air mattress in the library.

When I regain access into our guest room I'll re-clean the area with TSP and a very course brush, remove all the tape and start sanding down the rest of the paint and original varnish. Once the wood is bare I'll have to clean it very well with a deglosser before staining it back to it's lovely walnut finish. And the next time I decide to strip paint I'll so be trying the heat method instead of the scary chemicals.

The end...for now.

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