Before & After – Restoring a 100 year-old door

As interior painters in New York City, we’re often asked to work with existing fixtures, trim, floors, doors, and windows in older apartments. Many people like the period details and want to keep their apartments as authentic as possible. Refinishing this older wood work can be a time-intensive, laborious process. Here we’ll walk through restoring an door that we estimate to be over 100 years old.

First we took the door off the hinges and removed all hardware. We then used a stiff brush to remove any dirt, loose paint, or dried caulk (we always wear respirators whenever we are potentially raising particles off the surface). Then we began the stripping process.

After the door is stripped and cleaned with mineral spirits. We can begin the finish process. For this door the customer wanted a classic semi-gloss white finish paint, which we applied using a brushing pattern to give it a hand-finished touch.

Working with old woodwork in historic settings is one of our specialities and we approach the process meticulously. If you have trim, doors, cabinets, or other woodwork in your apartment that you’d like to give new life, contact Paint Works to schedule a consultation!


Peel away and membrane applied to a door being stripped

Using Peel Away

Peel Away brand finish remover is invaluable to our refinishing process, but does require a specific application to work successfully.

Application of Peel Away stripper: Using a putty knife or a specialized paint applicator, we apply a thick and even layer of the Peel Away stripper onto the painted surface of the old door. The recommended thickness is typically around 1/8 to 1/4 inch. We ensure that the stripper covers the entire painted area.

Covering and dwell time: Once the Peel Away stripper is applied, we cover it with the provided Peel Away paper, gently pressing it onto the surface to ensure good contact. We’ll pop any air-bubbles with a knife and tape them off to make sure we have 100% contact because the covering helps to extend the dwell time and prevent the stripper from drying out too quickly.

Paint removal: After the specified dwell time has passed, we carefully remove the covering from a small test area to check if the paint has softened and is ready for removal. If the paint appears softened and can be easily lifted, we proceed with the paint removal process, using a putty knife, scraper, or a specialized stripping tool to gently scrape off the softened paint. It’s important to work in small sections and apply light pressure to avoid damaging the underlying surface. The paint typically comes off in layers or sheets.
This part of the process involves violatile fumes so we work in a well-ventilated area using appropriate safety equipment including respirators

Clean-up: Once the paint is removed, we clean the surface using mineral spirits. This helps to remove any residue or traces of the stripper. We ensure thorough cleaning to prepare the surface for further painting or refinishing.

It’s important to note that the specific instructions for using Peel Away brand stripper may vary depending on the product variant and the manufacturer’s recommendations, but this is the basic process we use to prepare old wood work for refinishing.