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removing a layer of paint without removing what's under it



I have an old set of kitchen canisters that are wood. They originally had a rooster design on them. I grew up with them on our kitchen counter. Mom passed them to me years ago and I painted the whole set green. I'd like to remove the green paint and "hopefully" not remove the original design. The set is over 60 years old. I'm feeling sentimental.


I know the original design (canisters) were mass produced because I've seen the set in antique stores. Can't tell you how the design was applied or if it had a protective coating. 


What would be the safest way to attempt to remove the layer of green paint?  It's regular paint...water clean up. I realize this might not work, but I'd like to try.


Thank you for your input.


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Posted 2013-12-08T04:10:57+0000  by Sandy_Kay-13 Sandy_Kay-13




As old as your cannisters are, it can be assumed that they were originally painted with either a lacquer or oil paint, probably lacquer if mass produced in a factory. Early generations of latex paints did not stick well to these hard, slick finishes. They were usually highly chip and peeling prone if painted over with latex paint. If this is so, you might have a chance of getting the green off in a couple ways: You can experiment on the rear of the cannisters which don't normally show.


 First, try baring down on the painted surface with a plastic putty knife and dragging it over the surface. If the original adhesion was not good, this downward pressure might break the bond between the two layers of paint, leaving the original finish somewhat exposed.


A second method might be "shocking" the latex paint with a quick application of heat from a good hairdryer or heat gun. The idea is to quickly heat the outer latex paint without heating the underlying paint. The latex paint expands faster  than the oil paint and hopefully breaks its bond.


It is doubtful  that any chemical strippers would be successful, as the chemicals would also attack the underlying paint, leaving bare wood showing.


Obviously, any sanding or abrasion would also damage the underlying finish.


Perhaps someone else on this site has another idea.  You have little to lose, as the cannisters can always be repainted.

Posted 2013-12-08T06:16:05+0000  by ordjen

Thank you. I'll wait a couple of days and see if there are any other suggestions, but both of your suggestions at least give me a shot at it.



Posted 2013-12-08T08:48:16+0000  by Sandy_Kay-13
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