First things first - What I learned
- CitriStrip worked much better/easier than a heat gun in this case, and I tried both. I used the heat gun for the back, which took FOREVER, and CitriStrip for the front & sides. CitriStrip for the win, hands down. That said, IT EATS THROUGH GLOVES! I was wearing regular latex gloves (not thick ones), and they ripped. I thought it was because I was using steel wool & that ripped them, but after donning a new pair and using my hands to rub CitriStrip on the frame, the tips literally disappeared. Be warned!
- Using a heat gun on layers of different kinds of paint probably wasn't the best idea - Although the uppermost layers are probably latex, I think underneath were old layers of oil paint & possibly the original enamel/lacquer. Whatever it was, something was giving off fumes that made my head hurt, eyes red for 2 days, and nauseous - and that was with 4 out of 5 windows in my bedroom open, a ceiling fan on, and a floor fan running top speed to circulate air outside.
- The easiest combination was CitriStrip with a flexible metal scraper, followed by a stiff scraper to scrape off tough layers of enamel/laquer at the bottom.
- CitriStrip doesn't damage mirrors (which I was worried about).
- It's MUCH easier to remove the door & strip it while it's laying down on the floor, rather than while it's still attached to the cabinet. I laid it down on a thick piece of cardboard (a flattened West Elm box - they have the BEST boxes!) and went to town. Nothing seeped through to my floors, and I just picked the whole mess up & dumped it when I was done.
- It must be assumed that everyone knows how medicine cabinet doors are removed, because I couldn't find ANYTHING that showed you how - so this is how:
- My cabinet door was attached with 2 hinges on the inside edge where the door met the cabinet. Each hinge was held to the door with two screws, and to the cabinet with 2 screws. Originally my plan was to remove the four screws that held the door to the cabinet, but of course one of the screws stripped so badly that I couldn't get it out. So THEN I had to remove the four screws on the cabinet side - luckily they all came out without much of an issue. The hardest part was probably finding them under the LAYERS of paint, but I used an utility knife to scrape & cut until i could find the screw. Once you find 2, it's easier to find the others because you can guess where they are based on how the first two are positioned.
- Stripping is hard, and I'm probably just going to do the door. Thinking of doing the entire rest of the cabinet is making me twitch.
Latex Gloves - had these already CitriStrip - $13 Steel Wool (Multi-Grade Pack) - $4 Heat Gun - $23-$30 Flexible Scraper - $5-$7 Stiff Scraper - $5-$7 Cardboard (to work on & protect my floors) Various Screwdrivers to get the screws out Utility knife
What I Used
This project was a serious nightmare, but I'm happy with the outcome - just not entirely convinced that it was worth it. Here's a quick before/after shot before I get into the details: Now to pick up from where I left off - with the door down to bare metal.