1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My New Favorite Thing

While stripping an Eastlake bed for the front bedroom this weekend, we called our neighbors D&K to suggest an outing to Miss Melissa's for dinner later. When they heard we were "stripping," they couldn't hang up the phone fast enough and dashed right over to see what they could do to help.

They were desparately disappointed to find we were stripping paint, not clothes (though they did get the pleasure of seeing Darwin in all his shirtless, sweaty-waistband glory).

Since they were already here, they decided to pitch in and help anyway. D applied the "semi-paste" clear stripper to the headboard, and we all commenced scraping. Okay, all but Ken who entertained us with stories since we only had two scrapers and a stick I found on the ground that worked well in the grooves.

The clear stripper (heretofore referred to as "Other Stripper") turned the old, alligatored off-white and teal paint into a thick, gloppy, snotty-looking mess. The paint stayed stubbornly in the many grooves and carvings.

"You need to try Safest Stripper," D&K insisted. "It's safe to use in the house, and it works great. You can wash and scrub off the excess paint." (As far as I know, they were not paid by 3M to say this.)

The silent consensus from Darwin and me: Uh-huh, sure, let's just keep scraping. I figured one stripper would work just as well - or ineptly - as the next. And if it's "safe"? Frankly, that probably means it sucks.

But after we gave up and cleaned the still-revolting bed for the night, after we cleaned ourselves and went to dinner, after we gorged ourselves on delicious white chocolate bread pudding, D&K pressed upon us two leftover partial bottles of Safest Stripper and a blue scrub pad.

Okay, fine. We'll try it. Next morning, I dragged Darwin out of bed bright and early to get to work before the heat got unbearable.

I still wasn't too sure about this Safest Stripper thing. The bottle listed more than a dozen steps to get ideal results. If you know me at all, you must realize I'm not a "dozen steps" kinda girl. I choose food at the grocery store based on how many steps are on the package. If it's more than two or three (boil water, cook macaroni for 10-12 minutes, mix in cheese sauce), it's just not gonna happen.

Also, the bottle said it would take TWO HOURS to soften the paint enough to scrape off. Well, we had a lunch engagement in Tuscaloosa and didn't have that kinda time. Plus, it looked like rain.

And I was dubious about the "scrub and wash" aspects. The makers of Safest Stripper didn't know what they were dealing with here. They didn't know about the evil lead paint from hell, the gooey, sticky, awful mess of it.

But we decided to give it a go anyway. What could we lose at this point? The bottle said "semi-paste," but when we opened it we discovered it was much more pasty than Other Stripper, thick and white rather than thin and clear. Other Stripper had to be applied to a perfectly flat surface or it would run right off the edge. As you scraped it, the pool of Other Stripper fled before your tool and ran in runny-egg rivulets down the sides of the wood.

Also, Safest Stripper had no detectable odor, while Other Stripper had a nose hair-singing, headache-inducing stench.

We decided to try Safest Stripper first on the fluted legs of the headboard, where we'd had the most trouble getting the paint out of the grooves. Meanwhile, because I am not a patient woman, we applied Other Stripper to the top of the headboard and started working on it again.

About 20 minutes in, I got impatient (there it is again) and tested a spot on a flat part of the fluted leg. By golly, it worked like a dream! The softened paint loosened from the wood with a gentle nudge, and the white paste was thick enough to scoop right up and away with my scraper.

In that moment, I felt the first inkling of love for the Safest Stripper.

I managed to wait a little longer before scraping in the dreaded grooves, and when I did, the paint came away just as easily before. Of course, it's not that simple with grooves. If your scraper is flat and the groove is curved, things are just going to be a pain in the butt no matter what.

Still, the Safest Stripper worked WAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than Other Stripper. After we saw how well it was working, we applied it to the still-painty other areas of the headboard and set to work.

I guess it took us about 2 hours of solid work to get the headboard from point A to point B, the same amount of time it took us to get it from point A to point A and a quarter the previous day. Point C still looms in the distance, but I have high hopes.

My affection for Safest Stripper was confirmed. This is now my new favorite thing. Since it has good "vertical cling," I'm planning to try it on the woodwork in the entry hall, too. And I'm hoping it will help us strip the last of the paint off the clawfoot tub.

A disclaimer: We'd already applied Other Stripper to the paint the previous day, so it may have been easier to strip. If that's the case, my love for Safest Stripper may be compromised. Stay tuned.

After Other Stripper, before Safest Stripper:

During (see the paste and in the corner the snot-like residue of Other Stripper?):

After (still not finished but much closer; still have to do the thankfully-much-less-detailed bottom half and some touching up):

Oh goodie, when we're done with the headboard, we get to do the side rails and the footboard. The footboard is painted on both sides! Whooppeeeeeeee!



Jordana said...

My mom almost always uses Safest Stripper and she's taken a lot of paint off of a lot of doors, trim and other things. We haven't done a lot of stripping, but mostly we've wound up using Citristrip and then having to use Safest Stripper to do the tough work. Probably we should have started with the Safest Stripper in the beginning.

4:18 PM  
John said...

My wife and I tried some of this. It was a leftover bottle my mom gave us; it sucked. However, your post had made wonder if we just got a bum bottle of the stuff (it was a couple years old); maybe I need to give it a second chance.

Then again, maybe it was user error? My wife is even more impatient than you (by far).

4:35 PM  
mindy said...

Thanks for the tip - we'll have to try that one sometime. That bed is great - worth the work! Can't wait to see it finished.

8:14 AM  
Sabrina said...

I've decided you're pretty fickle and Darwin should really keep an eye on you. Hehehe. First you fall in love with the heat gun, then it was the meiter saw and then you threatened to run away to Cancun with your medicine cabinet. Now you've developed "affection" for a stripper (hahahaha). What's next?

Just teasing! I'm glad it worked so well for you! I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever decide to strip. (Hahaha. Okay, I'm easily entertained today...you'd think I could be a little more mature!)

12:39 PM  
Christine said...

That's going to be such a gorgeous bed!

I like the part where you wrote about the "nose-hair-singing".
I can't even get mine to hum!


10:08 AM  
Kristin said...

Ha! Apparently it's "singeing"! And I call myself an editor ...

10:32 AM  

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