My husband and I are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with our 100 year old house renovation. With that, we've been told a few different ways to handle the refinishing of our baseboard trim. We first started out with the whole stripping process - Coat the wood, wait, scrape, reapply, and finish with steel wool pads. Next when we made the final decision to have all the baseboards painted, instead of restaining, we were told that we just need to sand the baseboards, prime, and paint. I'll have you know that some of these baseboards have 3 layers of paint, then a layer of stain.


We are unfortunately aware of the huge project we're taking on...We have about 1/3 of them stripped and sanded. Does anyone have any info on refinishing with paint, and the best way to achieve? Any info will be helpful!

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You may want to look at the infrared strippers such as May make the rest of the work easier.

Thanks Bill. Have you used this tool yourself? I'm a little apprehensive with buying it as majority of the consumer reviews are negative.

Not yet, but will either make one or buy this one when I start the trim work later this year. I have seen them in action. They are very quick. Essentially, you heat then scrape while heating the next section. You cannot burn the wood like a heat-gun would.

I would say, they work best on horizontal surfaces since they can just sit there and then you move to the next spot. On vertical surfaces you either hold it, or you purchases a rod/stand that will hold it in place.

There is probably a video showing how it works.

Katie, Check out this link:  This type of DIY (assembling my own electrical devices) is not my usual thing and I was a little uncertain about doing it, but I just followed the instructions and it came out OK.  I've got to tell you, you will be amazed at how much easier it is than chemical stripping.

I have an 1872 Victorian with 10" baseboards with moldings that were beat up in places and painted. To refinish, I scraped off all loose paint, filled all the holes and cracks with wood putty and then just sanded them smooth. There were two to three layers of paint but for an old home, that really isn't very much. The trick was to make sure the edge where paint met bare wood was smooth and undetectable to the touch.

In all my refinished, I've yet to use liquid or gel paint removal products. Good luck.

I realize what a large task you are taking on but I have to chuckle to myself when you say " I'll have you know there are three layers of paint".  In most houses I have worked on when after removing layer after layer I considered 3 layers "almost done"  I once did a room that had 21 layers of wall paper and several more layers paint on the trim.  One for each layer of wall paper. The blocks in the corners above the door were smooth but after stripping I found detailed bull eyes.    Good luck with your project.  Lair

I love my infrared paint remover for this type of work.  It's much less mess and far more effective than liquid strippers.  You can buy them online, but they're pretty expensive.  I found a site online with instructions on how to make one yourself.  I was dubious, but it actually worked.  Parts cost me about $90.  The best part about it is that it lifts all the paint at once.  Also, you use a drag scraper instead of a pushing motion like with a heat gun, so the chance of gouging the wood is a lot less.  The link to the site I found is broken, but I searched "DIY infrared paint remover" on Google and several different sites came up.  Good Luck.

I am new to the site, so if this has been already covered just another tip for the wise.

Lot of the houses in my area have trim and baseboards that were foe painted in an oak wood grain to have them all look the same. I found out quickly that they are toxic.

When you touched it , it had texture ( combed) like a raised grain.

So I researched , I knew I was going to paint but wanted a smooth surface.

I use zinsser and bulls eye sealer primers. Any where there was chips and dings I lightly sanded and wood filled .

A coupled of coats of primer, then sanded smooth.

The point being ,lead and toxins were sealed in .

Then I could put two coats of chosen paint choice .

Just to let you know I love shine, so it was high gloss Behr ultra white.

Good luck and be safe.


I do not recommend heat guns or infrared stripper.  Both tools will dry out your wood which will cause eventual cracking and splitting.  If you are going to paint just etch the surface prime and paint.  I recommend slow oil base primers not latex.  


Randall Marder

Our 1918 house had some painted and some shellacked baseboards and trim.  I decided to pretty much follow how it had been done originally.  Some of the pieces that I was just going to sand and repaint had some big problems.  Several layers down someone had painted over gloss paint without priming, so when I started to sand huge chips came off down to the gloss.  I had to strip them down to a smooth surface then prime & paint.  I also ran into what I think is calcimine paint. It  simply turned to powder.  When I touched the surfaces large chunks of paint would come off.  This I had to strip until I was below the powder layer.  Some when I got it stripped I just left it natural.  I used Soy Gel for stripping and was very happy with it.  You have to try to figure out how many layer you need to strip and they decide how long to leave it on.  I had seven layers of kitchen enamel which I let set for 24 hours and all it needed was a few touch up spots.  It takes a little trial and error.

here is a picture of a project I just completed.  The home is a 19 century Victorian, the picture is of the staircase after paint removal.  I just want to share after removing the paint this what was under the paint.  The stain color is original,wood work intact,  pure preservation.  Soy gel was used, no heat guns, no infrared remover, no sanding, the patina was never disturbed.  The finish used is the secret custom blended greene and greene finished I used when I restore the dining room table in the Gamble House.




Randall, if I send you my address would you send me your newell post? It's perfect. But I'll need 9 altogether. LOL.


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