Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Doors

The Doors was a 1960s rock band.  I don't think I'd ever consciously listened to any of their music until sitting here writing this, but whatever.  Not my genre of choice.  Apparently the dumb-sounding band name was a reference to the title of an Aldous Huxley book which was in turn a reference to some nonsensical William Blake quote.  This weird chain of reference kind of fits the theme of my house blog in a weird sort of way.

Hmm, I wonder if anyone has listened to The Doors in my house before?  This doesn't seem like the kind of place where teenagers would have rocked out in the 60s.  But perhaps some elderly housecestor of mine was a fan of The Doors and turned on her record player really loud when she was cleaning the bathroom (because cleaning a bathroom with music > cleaning a bathroom).

Anyway, don't you hate it when you get halfway into a project and wish you'd never started it, but it's too late to retreat?  Yeah... Note to self, for future reference: refinishing old wood doors is a miserable activity.

When I moved into my house, there was an old wood door sitting in the laundry room not attached to anything.  I think it was formerly one of the exterior doors to the house.

There was no door between my kitchen and my bedroom, but there were hinge cutouts, and the old exterior door very nearly fit the space, so I hung it there.  It was a little weird because it has a window in it, but it worked.  I even had a handyman plane it down to make it fit in the space exactly.

The door had about 500 layers of paint on it and lots of dings and scratches, and the top layers were peeling off the lower ones, so of course I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be a really fun project to strip this door down and refinish it!?"  Yeah, so I thought

I took the door out to the garage to strip the paint off.  I had been led to believe that chemical paint stripper would make this job easy., not really.

Chemical paint stripper has the consistency of jelly, and you brush it on and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  It makes the paint all bubbly, and then you scrape it off with a scraper, theoretically.  In reality, the paint gets all bubbly and sticky and gooey, and you scrape really hard, and some of it comes off, and it makes a huge sticky gooey mess.

I discovered the hard way that it's definitely worth paying attention to the recommended temperature range.  The first day I tried it, it was too warm, and the paint kept re-drying and just didn't want to come off.  It worked noticeably better when it was cooler.

The upper latex paint layers came off reasonably well once I had gotten the trick of it.  The lower layers, which I presume are oil-based primer and top coats, didn't really want to come off.  I didn't worry too much about those, since they seemed stuck fast.

Once I was done scraping, I washed down the door with dish soap and a course brush because I didn't really know what else to do.  Then I hosed it down and wiped it dry.  This seemed to work okay, but it was really messy.  All of it was horrendously messy.  Eew.  But at least the hard part was over, mostly.

Once the door was good and dry, I used my power sander to smooth it out really nicely.  This was the only enjoyable part.  I love power sanding.  Rawr!

I then spent an excruciating amount of time chipping the remaining paint out of the decorative curvy parts and little cracks and then carefully hand sanding those parts smooth.  This was horrible, but it turned out pretty nicely.

A coat of primer and two top coats (using a paint roller, yay!), a neighbor to help me take it back inside and hang it up.  In went the beautiful glass doorknob by dad found in a junk shop in Mississippi somewhere.  And yes, the doorknob plate thingie still has paint on it.  A project for another time.


This was a really annoying job, and while I was doing it, I was really sorry I had taken it on at all.  But I'm very happy with the results!

I'm never doing that again.

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