Why won't the paint strip off my hardwood floor in one particular area?
July 26, 2007 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Why won't the paint strip off my hardwood floor in one particular area? Before - After

I'm using Bix Stripper, which is your basic stinky multi-purpose stripping agent. It works great except for one part the room. Any ideas why that is?

The floor is painted gray with random white globs of what looks like spackle. Someone did a half-assed job doing whatever it was they were doing when they decided to paint the floors, since it isn't uniform anywhere.

Anyway, there is no visible or textural difference between the spots that strip and the spot that won't, in terms of the paint. It does appear that the wood in the non-stripping portion is a bit drier and more brittle and liable to peel than in the rest of the room.

Any ideas why it isn't working? Am I going to just have to suck it up and sand the sumbitch? What other options are available to me?
posted by sciurus to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
You really should have sanded it to start with. I mean, even after stripping, you're going to have to sand it anyway (assuming your goal is a natural wood floor)

As for why the stripper isn't working...beats me. Perhaps the paint has seriously bonded into the wood?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:04 PM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: What you're seeing in the first picture, the yellowish stuff, is the Bix stripper. The orange stuff in the same picture is Bix stripper too, but it is obviously doing its job there.

I know I'm going to have to sand it, but there's a big difference between sanding an already stripped floor and sanding a painted floor.
posted by sciurus at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2007

Was the unremovable section under a rug, or something (something might have leached out of the backing of the rug)? Was the sun able to shine on it (UV light "fixed" the paint)?

Either way, it's not really much help.
posted by Rabulah at 2:41 PM on July 26, 2007

As to sanding a painted floor - if you have the means just hire someone to come in and do the rough sanding with one of the big industrial machines. It's not expensive and it will get anything off, and you can do all the fine work / finishing yourself if you prefer.
posted by true at 2:45 PM on July 26, 2007

Any idea if it's lead paint? If so, you might want be more inclined to find alternate stripping methods, but otherwise, yeah: sand the sumbitch. Rough paper on a decent belt sander will take it off in no time, and presuming you're going for a pretty bare-wood end product, you're going to need to do some serious sanding anyway.
posted by cortex at 2:45 PM on July 26, 2007

And paralleling true—you can hire someone, or you can just rent a good unit.
posted by cortex at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2007

If you still want to strip off that paint, apply a lot more stripper and cover the area with plastic wrap to keep it wet -- overnight, if necessary. I've done this with a different brand of stripper -- thought it might dissolve the plastic, but the plastic was unaffected.

If you give up and want to repaint the floor, email me. I have way too much experience in this department, and I can warn you away from the kinds of mistakes I've made. :-)
posted by wryly at 3:45 PM on July 26, 2007

Just a guess, but was there some furniture or something over the area where the stripper works adequately? I wondered if maybe the two areas were differentially affected, e.g., by being baked in by sunlight, or maybe by being walked on?
posted by jasper411 at 3:46 PM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: The whole room was carpeted, but the flooring is likely as old as the house [107yrs]. There's no telling what was on top of the carpet. It does appear that the strip-resistant portion is centered in the middle of the room. Everything along the wall comes up easy as pie.
posted by sciurus at 3:57 PM on July 26, 2007

Yeah, you’re going to have to sand it anyway. The stripping gave you a look at what the paint was hiding (stained yellow pine?) So it’s done its job.

If I were you, and I’m not you but I’m about halfway through sanding and finishing 1200 square feet of white oak flooring, I would be sorely tempted to hire someone. If you have a thirteenth degree black belt in belt sanding you can use a belt sander, but a normal person would need to rent a dedicated floor sander. Your local Home Despot should have the new 4-head random orbital floor sander and it does a good job. Its not aggressive enough to take out major (1/16 inch) vertical offsets between boards but the sanders that can are a bear to run and have a radical learning curve.

Buy a good 5 inch random-orbital sander and see what it does with 80 grit paper. You’re going to need it no matter what you do to get even close into corners. You also need to at least pull your shoe molding, but it would be best to take out the baseboard, and the base-cap goes with that.

If you can find the old nail holes (theoretically on 16 inch centers, filled with caulk) you can tap the nails thru with a 3/32 bin punch and pull the trim wood off without damaging it. Oh yeah, the other thing holding the base cap in particular is caulk and paint. You need to judiciously cut that bond with a sharp utility knife so as to not tear up the finish on the wall above.
posted by Huplescat at 4:29 PM on July 26, 2007

Correction... 3/32 pin bunch... get a blue one.
posted by Huplescat at 4:34 PM on July 26, 2007

Forget what i said about bunch. I meant to say punch but shit happens when you're keyboarding in the dark on drugs. In any case the blue ones are the best.
posted by Huplescat at 4:50 PM on July 26, 2007

Best answer: It appears that the section that would not strip is paint over untreated wood. Thus, the stripper was soaking through the paint and lifting up the varnish on the easy to strip portions. Since the paint was on top of this it came right up. On the unvarnished portion the stripper must have just soaked right into the wood. My guess is that there was a rug on the floor in the center of the room originally and they just chose to varnish the exposed wood. Halfasses.
posted by sciurus at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2007

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