Painting the Doors

The FHA is lulzy as hell. They made a “thorough inspection” and said that we had to fix the garage doors because the paint was peeling. Nevermind the garage door on the one side is cracked and needs to be replaced, but they noticed the peeling paint.

The Home Depot stripper works pretty well. The problem, as we found out, is that the Home Depot stripped only seems to work well on paint which has primer under it. If there’s no primer under the paint, you have to use more of it. A lot of it. Actually I’m glad we got it in gel format because we ended up slathering it on. We also found out it’s so caustic it melted the plastic rollers and brushes we used. PLUS IT BURNS LIKE THE FIRES OF HELL ON YOUR SKIN.

The first door I figured would take about two hours start to finish. The stripper is supposed to work in 15 minutes. Or it would have had it not completely welded the brush bristles together. Fine, we can just slap it on. 15 minutes later we’re trying to take it off with a wire hand brush and we’re not making great progress. I broke out the wheel brush and the drill and the first few panels came off fine. The stripper, however, was refusing to work on the bottom two panels. We tried more of it.

15 minutes later – the paint is coming up, but nowhere near as well as we expected. As my brother and I worked the drill, it finally occurred to me that the problem was the paint didn’t have primer under it. The paint was soaked into the wood. Our brush was quickly dulling and getting choked in chemicals as it peeled off the paint, stripper and wood pulp melange. By the time we got to the bottom panel on the door, we were gouging out just as much paint as wood.

Once we had gotten to the bottom of the first door, I took out the thick wire brush and went over the whole thing. Some of the paint came up, most of the stubborn stuff didn’t. Again, the crap coming off the door was paint heavily bonded to wood. Lose-lose every way and my brother had to be at work. We decided to paint.

The primer we used was matte white water based (“aquacryllic”) primer. Thankfully it went on easy, and covered well. While disappointing that it continued to lift the paint up, this is no biggy. It’s just thick enough to fill in all the dimples without being hard to work, and loose enough to roll easily. I am generally impressed with the product.

My brother had to go so we cleaned up the mess and went to my folks place. Thankfully my father understood this needed to be done like yesterday and volunteered to help. At this point my wrist was ready to fall off from steadying the drill on the uneven surface. We drove back. Dad is apparently a man’s-man, he opted not to use chemical stripper and went directly for the aggressive wire brush. Between him using the wire wheel to clean most of the door and me working the hand brush to  knock the rest of it off, he did the bottom panel on the other door and I cleaned up after. We started to do the next panel up and realized once again there was no primer – but this time over the entire door.

The chemicals – THEY DO NOTHING.

At this point it was getting late and we discovered a crack in the second door, and I decided to write off the doors since they are $75ish a pop at Home Depot when they’re on sale for generic aluminum doors. The primer, amazingly enough, will not lift up paint with no other primer under it. The obvious argument here is that primer is soluble in primer, which is why the paint on the other door lifted a bit when we primed over it. Here’s hoping the primer sticks to the paint until the FHA comes by to inspect it.

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2 thoughts on “Painting the Doors

  1. Well – some strippers will work and everyone I have ever used requires more time to work than the manufacturer says.

    On a vertical surface you will want a gel type stripper. It goes on thick and will stay put and not run off the door. You can leave it on overnight, test an area, and if the paint wont scrape off, put more on and leave it longer. More paint, more time.

    the stripper should stay wet. If it dries up while waiting you will need to add more or do it again.

    use a good carbide scraper and not a wire wheel and the paint should come right off. primed or unprimed it makes no difference.

    The more environmentally friendly or less bad smelling the less effective the stripper will be in my experience. The only exception is citristrip. it takes a while but isn’t too noxious.

    Lastly, if the paint is well adhered you do not need to remove it if re-painting. Just prime any bare wood and paint. You may want to sand any rough spots or edges of old paint so it looks nicer.

    Good luck

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