How to remove and re-apply wood paint....

8 Sep 2010
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South West Wales
United Kingdom
Hi all

We made the mistake a year and a half ago of painting all the wood in the house (skirting, door frames, etc.) with a satinwood paint but WITHOUT priming or undercoating first. The wood all had stain or varnish on previously. That's the last time I listen to anyone at B and Q!!!!

We are having new doors fitted next week and this will require the door stops to be moved, and some re-decorating will therefore be needed on the frames. I've had a look and in some places the paint peels off really easily - especially on the inside of the frame where the stops are. It's a bit more stubborn on the outer parts of the frame. Don't know if that's because it its different wood?

Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone could advise me on what I should do. Do I need to remove ALL the paint, or should I just remove it where it comes of easily?

Any other tips or advice? I know that this time around I need to use a primer and undercoat, just not sure what's the best way to undo what's already been done and how I should get the woodwork prepared.

Many thanks

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Its often a good idea to replace skirting rather than strip off the paint, its cheaper in wickes and other builders merchants than it is in the diy sheds.

The fastest way to strip paint from frames is to burn off with a heat gun. You may well be able to scrape off a lot of loose paint first and use the heat on the more stubborn bits.

If you have a stain underneath i'd prime it with coverstain as this is a primer/sealer.

Also if you have raised pieces from paint your unable to remove you could use a lightweight filler such as red devil and just skim the areas. Do this after the initial prime, then rub down and spot prime the filler.

I dont think you'll have different timbers in the frame construction its just that the paint has adhered better in some places.

Normally when removing door stops its a good idea to run a stanley blade down each side to break the paint seal and stop the paint lifting, i know you want it off but thought i'd throw it out to anyone who reads this as its a pretty handy tip.
Thanks for the advice. We have made a start on a couple of door frames now. As mentioned before, in some places the old paint peels off in large strips close to a foot long!!! Comes off like a layer of latex (ahem, not that I'm overly familiar with latex).

In other areas it seems well stuck down. I've borrowed a heat gun but that does not seem to be helping. Where it comes of easily, the heat gun actually makes it tougher and makes it sticky (and the sticky mess then just smears across the wood). On the stubborn bits the heat gun isn't helping much....

I've taken a couple of pics:

In this one you can see how the heat gun has smeared the paint compared to the area above where the paint peeled off with a scraper leaving the bare varnished/stained wood beneath.

In this one:

we got off as much as we could without the heat gun. At the bottom there's some paint that was hard to remove. On other frames these sections are larger (where the paint was harder to remove).

So I guess my questions are:

- is it ok to leave those such areas painted?
- should I use I primer/undercoat over the whole frame, or different products depending on whether the frame has paint on it or not?
- Is primer even necessary seeing as the "bare" wood is not really bare, but is actually varnished/stained?

Just to be clear, I know I'll need to sand and clean them prior to painting.... And we just want to restore them to how they were - white satinwood type finish.

Many thanks

Have you tried a belt sander with a really low grit on the stubborn bits?

If you leave some paint on you may just need to use a bit of filler to taper the high spot level.

Paint does not adhere well to varnish so its important to use a paint that has good grip. Coverstain will do this and also seal the varnish to prevent any bleeding.
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I always reckon that you should sand off anything rough or loose, but if it's adhering so well that it's difficult to get off, it's adhering well enough to paint over.
Hi all

Thanks for the replies....

Gonna finish preparing today and then get painting ASAP. I'm not too worried if the prep doesn't make the frames super smooth and level. We are going for an old cottage look so a bit of imperfection could also be seen as "character".... :)

One thing I would like a little more advice on please is the best sealer/primer. Seems everyone is keen on Zinsser as a brand, but so far I have been recommended three different products:

- Bullseye 1-2-3
- B.I.N.
- Coverstain

I've looked at the website and am finding i a little tough to work out which will be best with info on there. So any suggestions here would be great please...


BIN is best for bare knots but dries very quickly and so needs to be applied quickly.
1-2-3 is the better all round primer for timber but you should really use a separate knotting solution first.
Coverstain can be used as a general primer but, personally, I only use it for problem stains.

Just to add, if you haven't sanded through the surface of a varnish, you should be ok to apply the BullsEye 1-2-3 directly as the varnish will be acting as a knot block and it adheres to varnish without prior sanding.
For internal use Bullseye 123 is my main primer. with the exception of wooden windows that suffer from condensation for which I use coverstain (my main external use primer).

I rarely use B.I.N nowadays unless I am for instance painting wooden t&g panelling with hundreds of knots in, rather than spend ages spot priming with knotting solution.

the 123 is waterbased, and dries fast. but as above, always knot first.
Thanks for the advice guys. The sanding has taken some of the varnish off the knots... But the frames are 20 years old and we did not have a problem before with "bleeding" when we painted with just the satinwood (no primer/undercoat). So I'm thinking we should be fine with just the 1.2.3. What do you guys think?

One other question, after sanding the frames what is the best way of removing all the dust prior to painting on the primer? Would rather not use white spirit as it stinks quite bad! Any other suggestions would be very helpful though....

to remove dust, vacuum cleaner and soft brush first, then (if you won't use a cloth dampened with white spirit) a cloth moistened with water. You may have to brush and vac again if the cloth leaves any fibres.

water raises the grain of the wood but a damp cloth is unlikely to do any harm. Make sure it is fully dry before recoating.

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