Eventually, historic linseed oil paints need to be stripped from the exterior of a house. The chemical reaction that allows liquid linseed oil to become a solid film, making it a useful vehicle for paint pigments, never stops. This causes the oil film to become brittle and start cracking and separating from the base material over time.
It can be a century or more before the first layer of paint begins to fail in a significant way, especially if it has been repainted regularly. Once it begins in earnest, the only good way to get a lasting paint job is to remove all the paint back to wood and start over. These during and after photos show paint removal on a Victorian era door hood and the repainted hood.
This door surround was stripped with a traditional heat gun and scraper. Infrared heat strippers have become common in recent years, but heat guns are still available. Liquid and gel strippers are also options. Whatever method is used, lead-safe guidelines should be followed.
Infrared heat for siding and soy gel for moldings are my preferred methods, as outlined and shown in Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.
The 720 page award-winning and best-selling hardcover book is available in bookstores and from online retailers (it is currently 32% off on Amazon! http://ow.ly/Uumq50zRjJ5).
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