Over the last couple of years, I've blogged about all sorts of stuff, but no post in this blog gets more traffic than the one I made a year ago, with a review of Soyclean Paint Stripper. It's obvious that a bunch of you are looking for a nontoxic way to remove the ugly paint that previous owners put on your trim and/or furniture. I love that. So far I have tried Soygel and Soyclean, both considerably more expensive than the toxic ones at the big box store, and you don't want to get stuck with a $50 bottle of inert goo. So when I tackled another stripping project this week, I decided to conduct some, ahem, "scientific" tests to help you decide which soy stripper to buy.
Not long ago, my little guy decided that I needed to tackle the ugly wallpaper in the foyer/stairway. He was standing there, waiting to go outside, and ripped a 8"x12" hunk of paper off the wall along the stairway. I was not happy about it, as there is a LOT of wallpaper, which is covering dodgy old wallboard. And it is not a room that I stop to look at very often, thus making it pretty easily ignorable (I know that I might have just invented that word. I'm okay with that). Not to mention that I am still cooking in a really ugly kitchen, which was definitely higher on my "to do" list.
In my irritation at the destruction wrought by the Boy, I started to rip off more paper. In reality, it was my curiosity about what might lurk beneath, but I'll keep up the pretense that I was angry. I realized that there was beadboard under the wallpaper.
Beadboard! Real, live, wood that is not plywood or pressboard!
Later that afternoon, I hastily ripped off the rest of the paper, and started to hack at the plaster. I soon figured out that it was really spackle. Water soluble, premixed joint compound. So I scraped off what I could with a putty knife and tackled the rest with a spray bottle, scrubby pad, and rags. It took a few hours of the course of several days to complete this step.
Then I started to strip away the ugly "antique" colored paint on the beadboard and the several coats of cream-colored paint that had been slopped onto the stringer. Because I am a frugal gal, I opted to use the Soyclean paint stripper in my supply room. I had forgotten how overpowering the orange scent was. it gave me a headache and I had to open the windows and doors and put a fan in the room. It was not pleasant. I realize that my sensitivity to citrus scent is more acute than most, so this might not discourage others. I do not know if the scent is there for a mechanical purpose, or just for grins, but I wish it weren't there.
I waited 45 minutes (the bottle says 10-30 minutes, but I've found out that time is your friend when using natural paint strippers) and began to scrape off the paint. The one coat of antiquing came off pretty easily. The leftover goop was also easy to take care of with a wet towel and/or scrubber pad.
The glossy trim paint was another story. I do not know what kind of paint this is, although I think it was put on between the late 70's and mid-80's. But the Soyclean only made it rubbery, not allowing me to scrape it off. I waited some more time, but it just wouldn't budge. Because the Soyclean is only a thick liquid (think pancake syrup), it's hard to get a nice thick layer on top of the paint. I might have had more success if I were working on a horizontal surface and really piling on the Soyclean.
I ended up wiping off the remaining Soyclean and heading back to my supply room for the tiny bit of Soygel I have left. I put it on the paint, waited an hour, and the paint came right up. Now, I know that my earlier efforts had loosened up the paint, but really, the Soygel is just better. It's really thick (like molasses, but not as sticky), and it is easy to get a nice thick layer of it on the vertical surface. As a bonus, it has no scent. It smells vaguely industrial, but not at all overpowering. No ventilation needed, which was very good, as the weather turned hot that day. So my not-at-all-professional opinion is that Soygel is worth the extra money when working indoors and on vertical surfaces. Soyclean might be just fine outside and in a situation where you dip the wood in the stripper. But I will not use it inside again, most likely.
Through my efforts, I was able to strip nearly all the previous paint off the beadboard, to find that it was obviously unprotected wood for some time, showing much ground-in dirt and staining. I ultimately decided to paint it trim-white and am happy with it. I'll share pictures when I'm done.