Stripping Stair Rail - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-19-2017, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Stripping Stair Rail

Hi Folks,

Ugh, I might be in too deep on this one! I recently decided to refinish or stair rail and newels but I think I'm a little beyond my depth at this point and can really use some good advice! I started stripping our stair rail in our 100 year old house (in Philadelphia if that matters). I decided to go with Dumond SmartStrip as my main stripping agent. (I used their Peel Away on an old iron bath tub in the past and got great results, so I thought "why not"?

Long story short is this is far trickier than expected. While the Smart Strip is supposed to lift many coats at once, it had trouble penetrating and a lot of places so I had to reapply and re scrape. This round I also used their special laminated paper which slows the drying time which I think helped.
The coatings are in the below order (top to bottom).

[TOP]
  1. brown varnish
  2. white paint (primer?)
  3. blue paint
  4. white paint (primer?)
  5. varnish
  6. stain
[BOTTOM (wood)]

You can see the end result at this stage. I canít even discern the type of wood this is. On one railing, (photo 1) thereís a lot of deep grain which suggest walnut but the newel cap looks like oak (photo 2). The other issue is the SmartStrip didnít lift the stain. Is this normal? I havenít tried sandpaper or steel wool yet. What I need from you, the kind folks at Woodworking Talk are next steps. Perhaps a general overview and strategy of what to do next.

  • If this were your project, at this stage, what would your next steps be.
  • Should I try one more application of Smart Strip (or something else) to get those last bits of paint or should I just try to sand the remnants out? (This is in an operational living space so I need to keep dust to a minimum). Maybe just dab a fast acting schemical stripper here and there to get the last bits? (brand recommendation if you have one?)
  • Do I grain fill that ďgrainyĒ rail
  • Sandpaper or Steel wool or both?
  • Any idea what kind of wood this is? The floors and base trip are all oak.
Well, I think thatís everything. General help or specific help is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance and I look forward to your advice and comments!

Greg
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-19-2017, 08:50 PM
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For one thing you have one of the worst removers on the market. You need a methylene chloride type remover to do the job and rinse it off with lacquer thinner. You will need to put down some plastic with multiple layers of newspaper or cardboard to protect the floor from drips. More often than not I use Kleen Strip remover. If that doesn't work then Strypeeze will. Usually one will work where the other won't.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-20-2017, 11:48 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Steve,
Your advice has always been invaluable.

OK, I'll poke around for those products. I bought into the Smart Strip because it's water based and somewhat odorless but it's now warm out so I can open the windows for ventilation. Do you think the Kleen Strip or Stripease work on non-flat (vertical) surfaces? (That's one of the reasons I went with the paste-like Smart Strip). On sections where I have it down to the wood but there's still some spots of paint or varnish, can I "spot strip" those areas using the products you're suggesting?

Thanks so much,
Greg

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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
For one thing you have one of the worst removers on the market. You need a methylene chloride type remover to do the job and rinse it off with lacquer thinner. You will need to put down some plastic with multiple layers of newspaper or cardboard to protect the floor from drips. More often than not I use Kleen Strip remover. If that doesn't work then Strypeeze will. Usually one will work where the other won't.
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-20-2017, 07:25 PM
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I don't know if anyone makes a completely liquid remover anymore other than professional removers made to be pumped. The removers I recommended are semi-paste which will cling to vertical surfaces. Don't do more than eight lineal feet at a time and keep applying remover to the dry spots until it's ready to come off. On trim it helps sometimes to use a brass brush to get into the detail. Once stripped use lacquer thinner to remove the residue. Removers contain wax to prevent evaporation so it's important you get this wax off.
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post #5 of 5 Old 05-03-2017, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Hello,

So, I'm 90 percent done stripping my railing. I ended up sticking with the Smart Strip (but with their laminated paper) primarily because I have a couple kids at home and want to keep the fumes down to a minimum. Like Steve suggests, Smart Strip may not be the best solution in that there are still places where there's either stain, residue or flecks of that last layer of primer. Still, I'm down to the wood but have questions about next steps.

I'm down to the wood but the wood still looks stained. Is this because the stain has penetrated into the wood? In photos 2 and 4, theye are dark brown and mottled. That brown is about the color I'm going for. If I stain it roughly that color, do you think the color might even out?

If the answer is no, do I have to get it all to the same color light color? (see the top of the newel cap in photo 2), What then might be the best way?
1. Should I try a coating of Strip Ease (or similar) first?
2. Sanding?
3. Strip Ease and bleach
4. Other ?

Finally, What type of wood do you think this is?

Many Thanks!

Greg

Last edited by gthec; 05-03-2017 at 01:52 PM.
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