Turns out stripping and restoring wood is much easier and more affordable than we had thought. We stripped a lot of bead board a few years ago ourselves. It took forever and didn’t really work, so we weren’t sure if we would ever get around to restoring the woodwork on the parlor floor. Our little 1890s two family is all pine. It was originally stained and varnished to look like mahogany throughout the house, with faux oak graining in the dining room. Utility areas such as halls and bathrooms are covered in bead board, which was stained dark brown (adding a kind of Berkeley, Calif., Arts & Crafts look). Enter the professionals who actually know what they are doing. We started small with a little back hallway connecting our bedrooms and bathroom. It took the professionals about a day. At $45 an hour for two people, this is well worth it as far as we are concerned. We could not be more pleased with the results. We were lucky because it turned out there was only one layer of latex on top of the original shellac or varnish. They used Zip Strip followed by denatured alcohol. (If there had been layers of lead paint, it would have taken longer.) This can only be done with the windows open, so we’re going to wait until the spring to do more. Then we plan to hire a consultant to tell us how to restore the original finishes throughout the house (including some gilded polychrome picture moldings!). If you decide to go this route, it’s best done at the beginning of a renovation, before skimcoating or floor refinishing. If that’s not an option, protect floors with masonite if possible or at least vinyl coated wallpaper, since Zip Strip removes polyurethane. The paint goo will get all over the walls, and there’s not really much you can do about it, except repaint. Above, the freshly stripped woodwork. Below, the same door before stripping. Has anyone else stripped their woodwork or is thinking of it? What was your experience and what method do you prefer? Please post stories and photos here.
Below, a hinge with the original Japanned finish in red brown or black to match the faux mahogany. Unfortunately, some goo got onto this hinge so it doesn’t look quite as pristine as it did before the woodwork was stripped. It’s kind of a funny modern-Art Nouveau kind of design, don’t you think?