If you've just purchased an old cottage in the country, then you might be tempted to give it a fresh coat of paint. Perhaps you're imagining a bright blue or nice white paint instead of the dark color that is currently on the cottage. Here's how to strip off that old dark colored paint in preparation for a fresh, bright new color.
Why You Need To Remove The Paint
There are two reasons why you don't want to just paint over the current paint. First, if the cottage is old, then it's likely that there are several coats of paint on it already. If the current layer is cracking, then it will only be a matter of time before the new paint you apply also begins to crack. You should strip the boards down to bare wood so that you can start fresh and not have to deal with any bubbles, cracks, or other imperfections that old paint brings. Secondly, you can't just apply a light paint over a dark paint. You will always need to lay a primer down. This covers the surface (be it one particular paint color, or bare wood) in a clean white prime paint that can then take your final color without being tainted by the color of the wood or some other color. So, you will be laying on at least two coats (primer and paint). It's better to start fresh then to add even more paint to the already paint heavy boards.
What's The Best Method To Remove The Paint
You have three options for removing the paint. The first is to use a sander. The downside to using a sander is that it creates a lot of dust. If your cottage is very old, and has many layers of old paint, some of them might be lead based paint. You should avoid sanding old paint that you fear might have lead in it. Even without the lead, the paint dust is something you should avoid breathing in, so you will need a special respirator.
The second method is to use a heat gun. These work very well. They "melt" the paint off the wood. They look like large hair dryers. There are only two downsides to using a heat gun. First, you need to have them hooked up to an electrical outlet, so you will need a power extension cord. Secondly, and more importantly, there is always the possibility of burning the wood or even setting a thin board on fire. So, this is also a method to consider with caution.
The final method is probably the best one to choose. It involves using a paint stripping chemical. You can get paste like paint strippers, instead of liquid formulas. The paste will cling to the clapboards and not run off and fall onto the ground like liquid formulas. You leave the paste on for as long as the directions tell you and then you scrap it off using a paint scraper. Finally, go back over the clapboards with rags to remove any small trace of the stripping paste.