Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everything Old Is New Again

Halfway through stripping
Exposed bare wood under old paint
In my last post I mentioned the radiator enclosure that my husband asked me to strip and paint, conveniently ignoring the fact that I was already in the middle of stripping another piece of furniture and had a bedroom door waiting in line to be stripped also. Anyway, this enclosure had been sitting in my bathroom since before we purchased our home nearly 22 years ago and it had never been painted or retouched in all that time. You can only imagine the sorry state of that thing and in retrospect I'm sorry I didn't photograph it before I started working on it. It was a mess. The paint was peeling and chipping, bare wood was exposed in some places and the definition in the moldings was lost under multiple layers of paint. It was a an ugly mess and the job necessary to rid it of all that paint was another ugly mess. Fortunately I specialize in ugly messes.
Layers and layers of paint

After preliminary paint removal
Here you can see what the frame and it's perforated metal screen looked like after I had spent a day or so removing some of the paint. That's right, I said AFTER. The metal grate had been so painted over that some of the openings were clogged. Stripping it was harder than I thought because as I scraped the stripper off with a spatula, it would ooze through the openings to the other side. Scrape that side, it would ooze back. Not fun. The swan cutout was another challenge. It was backed by two small pieces of perfed metal butted together and boasted so much paint in its recesses that the beak was truncated. I won't even mention the frame corners. These pictures should tell you the whole story.

Almost done stripping
After painting
After stripping and scraping off several layers of old paint and cleaning with steel wool, I gave the frame a quick sanding with a palm sander. I used my Dremel rotary tool with a drum sander head to sand some details back into the swan. I removed the sawdust with a tack cloth and gave it three coats of mildew resistant paint with a built in primer made for high humidity environments. I also used the palm sander on the metal grate with excellent results. It cleaned down to the bare metal. A few quick sprays with Rustoleum Bright Coat silver finish and the grate looked better than new.
Back in the bathroom

One week, a half gallon of paint stripper, untold amounts of steel wool, a bunch of wooden shish kebob skewers (for digging out paint from the crevices) and several sanding pads later, I am proud to say that I reduced that ugly mess of a radiator cover into something that I actually like looking at. In total it took four days to completely strip the frame and grate down to the point where I could even think about refinishing it plus another three days to paint it, allow it to dry very well, then replace the grate and return to the bathroom. It's far from perfect but it sure is a darn sight easier on the eyes than in its former state and it makes my time on the porcelain throne just a little bit more pleasant. I've still go to get back to that small chest of drawers I was working on when my husband tossed this project at me as well as the door to my daughter's room that also needs to be stripped down and repainted.

Never thought I'd be stripping at my age.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

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