Learn how to strip old varnish from interior wood molding. Find out which product strips wood and how to prime and paint afterward, and why you might consider replacing instead of refinishing baseboards.
LESLIE: Alright, if you’re having some paint issues you’re just like Marion in North Carolina. How can we help you?
MARION: Well, I have an older house  that the baseboards, the trim around the doors and the doors were originally varnished or stained and some kind of clear finish on it and before I bought the house someone had gone through and modernized it and painted everything with a nice, bright, white enamel paint.
MARION: The problem is …
TOM: It’s no longer nice, white and bright, huh? (Leslie chuckles)
MARION: Well, they didn’t sand it down and primer it underneath and so, it doesn’t take much to scrape or scratch off the paint.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
MARION: And …
LESLIE: So they put the gloss right over the varnish?
TOM: Sounds that way.
TOM: Yeah, and you’re going to have to sort of start from scratch on this because there’s no quick fix. You’re going to need to pull those doors off; sand them down ; at least get down to the original varnish where you have a nice, smooth, solid, raw surface …
TOM: … then you can prime it and then you can paint it .
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you can, Marion, I’d say even pull all the trim off; label where it goes because you’ll have a much better time working with it on a flat surface. You know, set up a bunch of sawhorses outside; lay everything flat.
A good stripper that I like to work with when I’ve taken the stain off of kitchen cabinets  and smaller projects or dealing with stain or paint is Rock Miracle  and I like it because it’s a little bit thicker in texture. It goes on easily. It sort of changes its color as its working so you can really see how it’s working and it does a good job of cutting through even on the first go-round. But you know, you might have to do it twice.
LESLIE: And you’re probably going to need a lot of it. (chuckles)
MARION: (chuckles) Yes, I’m afraid I will.
LESLIE: You know, another option, if the time and effort and energy involved in stripping everything and refinishing  is, you know, pick up some new baseboard and some new trim molding and then really focus on the doors.
TOM: You know, I have an 1886 house and that’s exactly what I did. There were just so many layers of paint on the existing trim I found it easier to replace everything than to spend the hours upon hours it would take to have stripped it.
MARION: That’s what I was afraid you were going to say (Tom and Leslie laugh) but I was (inaudible) an easier answer.
TOM: You saw the result of taking the easy way out and it isn’t pretty. So, you can try it again the same way or you could take the time now to really do it once, do it right and not have to worry about doing it again.
Marion, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.