Refinishing Interior Wood
- Procedure code:
- Maintenance, Repair & Alteration Of Hstrc Bldgs - GSA/PBS, 1981
- Wood and Plastics
- Architectural Woodwork
- Last Modified:
PREFACE: Before undertaking any project involving paint removal, applicable state and federal laws on lead paint abatement and disposal must be considered and carefully followed. State and federal requirements may affect options available to owners on both paint removal and repainting. These laws, and any requirements prohibiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs), should be requested from the state historic preservation officer in each state. (From Preservation Brief 28, "Painting Historic Interiors"). Regulatory information may also be requested from the environmental protection agency (EPA) regional office and/or the state office of environmental quality.
- This procedure includes guidance on removing an existing wood finish and refinishing with a stain, varnish or wax.
- Safety Precautions:
- Dispose of all used solutions, paint stripper residue and soiled rags in sealed non-combustible containers daily to prevent fire hazard
- The Contractor shall maintain a healthy level of air circulation within the space being treated. Exhaust fans or other air moving devices shall be regularly employed and maintained to the satisfaction of the Contracting Officer or designated representative.
- Areas being treated shall be curtained off from other trades or occupants to prevent fumes from reaching other parts of the building.
- All workers in the area being treated shall wear appropriate safety devices, including but not limited to, respirators fitted with the correct cartridge, gloves, other clothing.
- See "General Project Guidelines" for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:
- Safety Precautions
- Historic Structures Precautions
- Quality Assurance
- Delivery, Storage and Handling
- Project/Site Conditions
- Sequencing and Scheduling
- General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)
These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).
- The Contractor shall refinish two (2) sample areas for approval by the Contracting Officer or designated representative. Locations of sample areas shall be as selected by the Contracting Officer or designated representative.
- The Contractor shall obtain written approval from the Contracting Officer or designated representative of wood refinishing methods, materials, and sample panels before proceeding with the work of this section. Approved sample panels shall be marked and protected for the duration of the project. They shall be used as the standard for similar work throughout the project.
- In the case of rejection of the sample areas, these locations shall be re-stripped and refinished until approved by the Contracting Officer or designated representative.
2.03 QUALITY ASSURANCE
- General Objective: The objectives of wood refinishing and cleaning are to give wood surfaces a smooth, uniform appearance consistent with the original design intent, and to preserve the inherent patina. Splotches, streaks, runs, or any other kind of spotty appearance shall not be accepted. Too aggressive cleaning or sanding shall not be accepted.
- Work Standards: Basic reference and standard for wood refinishing shall be "Wood Finishing and Refinishing Revised Edition," by S.W. Gibbia, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1971.
- Contractor: A firm with not less than five (5) years in wood refinishing and restoration. The Contractor shall be required to submit reference for six (6) other projects of similar nature. The Contracting Officer or designated representative reserves the right to approve or disapprove the use of the Contractor contingent upon their experience.
- Refinish Standard: Sample areas shall be prepared which shall form a standard for wood refinishing.
- Refinishing is defined as all the process(es) necessary to restore woodwork. Stripping is defined as the process of removing existing coatings from woodwork without damage to the wood. Finishing is defined as the process of applying stain and protective coating and all related preparatory and follow-up tasks. Cleaning is defined as the removal of dirt embedded in the upper finish layers and does not include the removal of any finish layer.
- Single Source Responsibility: Provide compatible finish coating, thinner, sanding sealer, and wood filler that are produced by the same manufacturer.
- Regulatory Requirements: Comply with municipal and Federal regulations governing the refinishing operations, chemical waste disposal, and scaffolding.
- Bonakemi USA, Inc.
- Butcher Polish Company
- 3M Consumer Products Group
- The Sherwin Williams Co.
- W.M. Barr & Company
NOTE: Chemical products are sometimes sold under a common name. This usually means that the substance is not as pure as the same chemical sold under its chemical name. The grade of purity of common name substances, however, is usually adequate for stain removal work, and these products should be purchased when available, as they may be less expensive. Common names are shown below by an asterisk (*).
- Commercial Paint and Varnish Remover such as "Citristrip" (W.M. Barr & Company), "Safest Stripper" (3M), or approved equal
- Mineral Spirits:
- A petroleum distillate that is used especially as paint or varnish thinner.
- Other chemical or common names include Benzine* (not Benzene); Naphtha*; Petroleum spirits*; Solvent naphtha*.
- Potential Hazards: TOXIC AND FLAMMABLE.
- Safety Precautions:
- AVOID REPEATED OR PROLONGED SKIN CONTACT.
- ALWAYS wear rubber gloves when handling mineral spirits.
- If any chemical is splashed onto the skin, wash immediately with soap and water.
- Available from construction specialties' distributor, hardware store, paint store, or printer's supply distributor.
- Typically used as a solvent and thinner.
- Potential Hazards: TOXIC AND FLAMMABLE.
- Safety Precautions:
- Work in a well ventilated area.
- Observe safety rules as turpentine is flammable, and the fumes can trip an ionization smoke detection system.
- Store soiled cloths in a metal safety container to guard against spontaneous combustion.
- Available from hardware store or paint store.
- Solvent Wax Remover such as "Woodline Renovator"
(Bonakemi USA, Inc.), or approved equal
- Wood filler in color to match original stain.
CAUTION: WOOD FILLERS CONTAINING A LINSEED OIL VEHICLE
MAY CAUSE WHITE SPOTS TO DEVELOP IN THE LACQUER FINISH
- Oil stain or universal stain (Sherwin Williams), or approved equal.
- Alkyd or urethane-base satin varnish (Sherwin Williams), or approved equal.
- Paste wax (non-yellowing) such as "Butcher's Paste Wax" (Butcher Polish Company), or approved equal.
- 000 steel wool
- Steel or brass wire brushes
- Stiff fiber bristle brushes
- Putty knife or broad knife
- Clean, dry cloths (cheese cloth or gauze)
- Orbital Sander
- Electric floor polisher
- Nylon web scrubbing pads
- Lamb's wool buffing pads
2.01 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION
- Remove Existing Coating:
- Work in areas approximately 4' by 4' at one time.
- Apply chemical stripper using a brush or roller. Follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Allow stripper to stand for length of time as recommended by manufacturer, depending upon the number of surface layers to be stripped; if necessary, cover with plastic sheeting to keep the stripper moist.
- Using a broad knife or scrapper, remove paint and stripper from the surface.
- Safely dispose of paint and stripper residue. Follow EPA regulations for disposal of lead-base paint.
- Specifically for varnish buildup:
- Wet steel wool with solvent and rub over the wood surface to remove varnish buildup and to smooth out any checks in the surface.
- Replace steel wool frequently with clean, and continue the wiping process until a smooth surface is achieved.
NOTE: DO NOT USE WATER ON THE WOOD SURFACE.
- Wipe wood with a clean cloth soaked in mineral spirits to remove chemical residue.
- Allow to dry and dry-brush loose material from the surface using a short fiber bristle brush.
- Repeat as necessary to sufficiently remove the previous coating.
NOTE: For more detailed information on paint removal from wood, see "Chemically Removing Paint from Wood Features", "Supplemental Guidelines For Specifying Repairs To Damaged Woodwork" and "Removing Paint From Wood Features Using Thermal Methods".
- Special Procedures for Varnished Wood Floors:
- Sand the floor with an orbital sander to remove stains, old finish and indentations in the wood. Sand in direction of wood grain.
NOTE: DO NOT REMOVE MORE THAN 1/16" OF THE WOOD SURFACE.
- Remove dust from floor with vacuum and tack cloth.
- Special Procedures for Waxed Wood Floors:
NOTE: Some sophisticated modern waxes, formulated for long wear and for high production commercial use, require special strippers that most often are not appropriate for historic materials because the ingredients cannot be readily detected. Some silicon waxes can only be removed by abrasion.
NOTE: WORK IN A WELL-VENTILATED ROOM. OBSERVE SAFETY RULES AS BOTH THE TURPENTINE AND THE WAX ARE FLAMMABLE, AND THE FUMES CAN TRIP AN IONIZATION SMOKE DETECTION SYSTEM. STORE SOILED CLOTHS IN A METAL SAFETY CONTAINER TO GUARD AGAINST SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION.
- Dampen small area of floor with turpentine or mineral spirits, or apply wax remover evenly over the floor following manufacturer's instructions.
- Using a 16" electric floor machine, scrub lightly with a piece of 000 steel wool or nylon web scrubbing pad. Change steel wool or pads as they become clogged with old wax.
- Wipe up solvent and wax with clean cloths.
- Continue cleaning in this manner until all of the old wax has been removed. Allow floor to dry, approximately 15-20 minutes after the last area has been cleaned.
- Apply wax and buff as described "General Cleaning Of Painted Or Waxed Wood Surfaces". Apply two or more thin coats rather than one thick coat. Buff after each coat.
- Fill scratches, gouges and dents with wood filler. See "Repairing Scratches, Gouges And Dents In Wood Wall Ornament" for guidance.
- Apply a high quality paste wood filler with a brush to all open grain wood species (i.e., Oak) before staining.
- Dampen a clean cloth with mineral spirits and wipe the paste off across the grain of the wood to enable the filler to remain in the grain depressions.
- Allow the filler to fully dry before applying the stain or varnish.
- Stain and Varnish the Wood:
- On a SAMPLE area 12 inches square, brush apply oil stain or universal stain.
- Allow the stain to penetrate the wood for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Remove excess stain with a clean, lint-free cloth. Rub the wood parallel to the grain.
- Allow the stain to dry at least 12 hours before applying varnish.
- Brush apply one coat of alkyd or urethane-base satin varnish. Varnish should be thin, but not watery.
- Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.
- When dry, buff the surface with 000 steel wool and dry-brush with a fiber bristle brush to remove any metal particles left behind from the steel wool. A tack rag may also be used to remove dust from the surface.
- Apply second coat of satin varnish (full-strength).
- Allow to fully dry.
- Buff the surface with 000 steel wool and dry-brush with a fiber bristle brush to remove any metal particles left behind from the steel wool.
- If sample is approved by RHPO, follow the same procedures for all remaining wood.
- For areas subject to wear (i.e., handrails, wainscot, etc.):
- After buffing the final coat of varnish, apply one coat of non-yellowing paste wax. See "Periodic Maintenance Of Wood Veneer Paneling" for guidance.