Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Renovating with Baking Soda

When trying to restore an old house, paint stripper seems to make a frequent appearance. We have already gone through gallons of the stuff taking the paint off doors, door trim, the stairs and the fireplace brick (which we ended up tearing out anyways...)

We have recently been inundated with paint stripper fumes all over again as we try to restore the return air vent covers to their former glory.

We were blessed with having seven beautiful original cast iron vent covers in our house. But were cursed with the fact that they had each been painted several times over the last 100 years to the point where they were no longer operational.

Since the bright yellows and muddy browns no longer work in my bright white house (and we would like them to actually function), all of the paint had to go.

Because they are so large and intricate, the only reasonable method we found to take off the layers of paint was soaking them in buckets of paint stripper. It was a horrible process.

Soak in paint stripper for a couple hours...
Scrub with steel wool and a wire brush...
Take Advil for pounding headache...
Soak again...
Scrub again...
 Vacate the house due to the intolerable level of noxious fumes...  

Then I happened to read a post by Mrs. Limestone about boiling off paint using nothing but water and baking soda... anything that avoided paint stripper was worth a try.

So one night last week I set myself up in the kitchen to test 'poaching' the paint off of the vent covers.

Sure enough after about an hour of simmering on the stove, combined with a little bit of scrubbing, the majority of the paint was gone!

Still a lot of polishing is required to make them shine but that is nothing that a little sandblasting won't fix!



  1. I bet they are going to look gorgeous!

  2. What a fantastic paint removing trick!! The great things we learn while blogging, hey?!
    Your vent covers are going to look great!!

  3. I don't even think you need the baking soda, we boiled all our hinges and door hardware from many rooms to get the paint off. That hot water works wonders! So glad you were able to salvage those, they are awesome.


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