If you are remodeling a home, there is a lot to do and many things to buy. One way to cut down on costs is to reuse existing items whenever possible. When working in an older home, you may especially want to preserve the original--and in some instances antique--woodwork of the home. Removing old paint from baseboards and crown molding in order to refinish or repaint them can be done fairly easily.
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The easiest way to strip baseboards is to take them off of the wall first. This can be done by using a trim bar (a small crowbar) and a hammer. Gently tap the trim bar behind the baseboard at each nail point and carefully pry the baseboard away from the wall until all of it has been removed.
There are a few ways to go about stripping the paint or stain off your baseboards. Using a stripping agent is the recommended method. There are many types of strippers available and most only need to be applied and scraped off using a plastic scraper. Using plastic as opposed to metal prevents marring the wood. Be sure to wear gloves when using a stripping agent, though, as some are highly caustic and may be harmful to your skin. It is also important to use the stripping agent in a well-ventilated area, since many types contain chemicals that release harmful vapors that should not be inhaled.
The final step involved is sanding down the baseboards. Invariably when stripping there will be a few spots of paint left that the stripper did not remove and these can easily be sanded off using a medium to fine grit sand paper. Also sanding the entire baseboard provides a smooth surface to stain or repaint.