By Gene and Katie Hamilton
There is no pleasant way to remove paint from wood, whether it's an exterior door or window or a piece of furniture. It just takes time and lots of hard work, but if you're up for the challenge, it's a job worth doing. For woodwork pieces and furniture, you have the option of having it commercially stripped. However, the chemicals used are harsh and may damage the wood. But for any painted built-ins, hand stripping is the way to go.
Sometimes it's not easy to get an estimate because the removal depends on the surface, the type of paint and/or varnish that covers it, and the number of layers to be removed. For those same reasons the removal technique can vary too. And once the finish is removed, sanding is needed to restore the wood to its original luster. In general, a painting contractor will charge $369 to remove three layers of paint and varnish from a 3-by-5-foot double-hung window. This includes labor and material. You can buy the materials for $55 and do it yourself, saving 86 percent. You'll earn that in the eight hours of work needed to get the job done.
You'll need a heat gun, gel-type chemical stripper, steel wool, after-wash, and sandpaper or a palm sander. If a heat gun works, it's the easiest and least messy. If it doesn't, attack the finish with a stripper. Use a sturdy cardboard box with its flaps cut off at the top as a dumping place for the residue of scraped paint and gunk. As you work, wipe the globs of softened paint on the scraper onto the sides of the box. The gunk usually hardens into globs of dried paint, so scrape it off into the box.
Before you begin, use an inexpensive lead-paint kit to test for lead paint and check with the EPA's Web site www.epa.gov/lead.
If you don't have the time or desire to tackle this job, you can find a painting contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right. Click
Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local prescreened contractors.
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to remove paint lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.