Bungalow Update: The Never-ending Woodwork Stripping Project

Happy beginning of the week! That sounds much better than Monday. I guess I could’ve gone with something like New Week Launch Day, too.

I haven’t done a house update in a while.

Have I mentioned I named the house Elsie? I actually did that before I moved in. I have to admit that I’ve never felt the urge to name a house. I honestly have no idea where it came from.

Elsie has some quality woodwork, much of which is covered in what is probably several layers of thick, white paint. Basically, it looks like my trim was painted with marshmallow sauce. Delicious, no?

I suspect at least a little bit of it is lead. Tests were mostly inconclusive. Lucky for me, previous residents painted over several layers of varnish. I can peel most of the paint off like a sticker, which means there isn’t much dust flying around.

I have tweaked my process along the way. Here are the steps I currently use.

Peel off as much of the paint as I can. Some of it comes off easily. For more stubborn parts, I have to use an x-acto knife to lift the paint from the wood. This takes a very long time.

Next up, we have the chemical stripper, usually 2 or 3 rounds with stripping pad scrubbing between. This part takes longer than the first bit, especially on the parts with small, inward corners. Those damn corners.

Once I get down to the varnish, that comes off pretty easily. Where the paint is stubborn – those are the worst parts. Sometimes, instead of lifting off, the paint smears and tries to settle into the wood grain. Very annoy.

However, when I get all the way down to the wood, this is what I get (below). This is part of the central archway, which has been a giant pain in my rear.

I’m pretty sure the wood is pine, possibly heartwood pine? As you can see, this piece still isn’t quite done. We have some old varnish on the left and a smear of paint and the goddamn corner. I still don’t understand why anyone would paint this.

So that’s the house project I’ve been trying to squeeze in between my nonfiction project and the certification I’m working on. If anyone has any spare hours and/or energy, I’d be happy to take them off your hands, for real.

I do love how fulfilling all this feels to me, though. Aside from minor guilt from the fear that I’m constantly neglecting something, all the work feels worthwhile, and I’m grateful that I can somewhat balance my time well enough to make progress.

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