I have a client that is interested in either stripping the original woodwork or replacing it with new. The original woodwork has been painted numerous times and will require a lot of labor to remove. Cost wise it would most likely be about the same just to replace with new. This house is a typical mid-western home built around 1900. The original trim is southern yellow pine. Are the labor costs worth keeping the original trim and the integrity of the originality of the home, or should we just replace it all with new? One issue to consider is that the dining room floor is of the same wood and matching color with new could be a problem.
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor D:
I think that replacing with new would be easier and cheaper than stripping and refinishing - you will never get all the paint out of the nooks and crannies, and it will look bad. The only way to strip it efficiently is to remove it and use a flow-through stripping system, which would give you a good result. A good finisher/painter should be able to match the color of old to new, but maybe you could remove and strip enough of the old to re-do the dining room with the original trim, and replace the rest. One advantage of replacing the trim is that it could be made slightly wider to cover the edge where the old stuff met the wall, which is always really hard to clean and level.
Around here, though, we can run into some unusual and ornate trim which is very costly to replace. In those situations it's a bit tougher to decide. Though, personally, I think it's much easier to just replace. You'll just need to do a little stain work to get the colors right. Your best bet is to put the numbers together for both scenarios and let the homeowner decide.
I come from an historically sympathetic background and always give the highest consideration to saving original material. It's been there a hundred years in this case and could be there 100 more if left in place. The current property owner is the steward of this house for only a short time. While it is "his" house and he can bloody well do with it as he chooses, the truly responsible thing is to look at this in the long run. There will be many more owners (stewards) of this house in years to come. Again, once historic material is removed, it cannot be replaced.
Now, the more controversial aspect of this perspective is that some would say the layers of paint are part of the history of the house and as such should be left. Depending upon the situation (and it would have to be a very historical situation to sway me), I tend to not be so rigid. My feeling is to remove the paint and save the wood. Lots of work and cost to be done safely and properly, but in my opinion, the right thing to do.
Even if everything is not stripped perfectly, it will still look clean, it will look like it belongs, and it will be full of character instead of clean and sterile like the new stuff. If a few more people chime in for stripping, send your customers a line to this thread to help them decide. Biased? What? Me?
As far as stripping the wood goes, I would stay away from any of the chemical strippers and look into the infrared paint stripping technology. Look up the silent pain remover or the speedheater (www.eco-strip.com - supposedly a better made tool). This way you avoid neutralizing the chemicals in the wood before painting, you don't have to worry about caustic chemicals, and the issue of lead (which should always be of the highest concern) is lessened as the tool never heats the paint above the point where the lead would turn to gas.