Stripping the old fireplace

Partially stripped fireplace

 

As I mentioned in the last post, several people independently told us that the original fireplace tiles might be exquisite, if we could only get rid of all that paint.  Sanding off the paint was not a good option because of the risk of getting lead dust everywhere, and I wanted to avoid high-VOC solvents.  After a lot of research, I decided to try a product called Multi-Strip, which claims to remove up to 15 layers of paint in one application while also being odor free and biodegradable.  It’s made by a dubiously named company called Back to Nature.

Multi-Strip is a jelly-like goop, which helps it cling to vertical surfaces.  It has a faint sweet smell which added to my desire to ingest it.

The picture above shows the fireplace after one application and paint removal.

I’m not sure if it got rid of 15 layers in one application, but Multi-Strip really works.  Here’s how to use it:

  1. Brush the goop onto the painted surface using a paint brush.
  2. Cover gooped surfaces with plastic sheets to keep the goop from drying out.
  3. Let the goop react with the paint for 48-72 hours.
  4. Scrape off paint and goop with a putty knife.

Below is a picture of some tiles during the scraping process.  How many layers do you count?  It’s hard to imagine the decision-making process involved in choosing some of those colors.

Layers of paint visible during the first scrape

Layers of paint visible during the first scrape

After the first Multi-Strip application and scrape, an alarming red color emerged, shown in the first photo of this post.  We decided to slop on another dose of Multi-Strip.

Scraping the paint after the 2nd or 3rd Multi-Strip application

Scraping the paint after the 2nd or 3rd Multi-Strip application

Here’s a close-up of one of the art tiles:

Art tile after 2 or 3 applications

Art tile after 2 or 3 applications

In the photo above you can see the plastic sheeting used to keep the Multi-Strip from drying out, as well as the final color of the tile peeking through.

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