Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)

Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)
Thomas + Zilpah Ludlam House, ca. 1790

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Joy of Stripping (doors that is)

A house not far from here, one-half of it built about the same time (ca. 1790) as ours, was torn down 10 years ago with the promise to local officials of better things to come.  Of course, the vacant lot is still vacant and the promise to build something new on it was just as vacant.  The older half of the house was built in the early 1700s and I'm really wishing I'd seen both halves before the bulldozer arrived.

A friend of ours had either bought or rescued some paneling and several raised panel doors from the ca. 1790 half.  He put them in storage, thinking he'd use them one day.  Learning of our addition, he agreed to sell us three of the doors and we were thrilled.  They fit perfectly; one for the bathroom, one for the laundry room, and the shortest for the coat closet under the stairs.  All three were coated with multiple layers of paint, the most recent a nice, colonial blue latex that did not complement our color scheme at all.

I'd stripped all of the doors in the main house so I knew I was in for a long, laborious process with these three.  With the weather still hitting the 60s, and chillier stuff coming any day, I decided to start now and get as much done as I could.

The blue came off easily.  So did a flesh-colored coat followed by a white coat underneath.  Below the white was a faux-grained layer that probably dated to the mid-1800s when the wood-look became popular.  As I scraped that off, I was astounded to find a polychrome scheme that sures looks original underneath.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  The raised panels are a lovely yellow ochre, highlighted by a frame of barn red.  The largest raised panels are decorated with a stylized tree/leaf pattern done in the barn red.  The frame around the panels appears to be a lovely off-white.  The smaller raised panels have a random barn red pattern, somewhat swirled.  All three doors have the same decoration and color scheme.

I had planned to paint the doors a nice historic off-white, all over.  But seeing the design, I know now that I have to recreate it, at least on two of the doors.

I should point out that I used the smelly, harsh chemical stripper since I was working outside.  I've used the SoyGel stripper with great success, but decided to use the quicker stuff because I was working with plenty of fresh air.  I have half of a gallon of SoyGel (which is very expensive, but very eco-friendly and very effective) left from our restoration a few years back, and I'm saving that for the wainscot I need to strip in the dining room later this winter.

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