The Cross House

Bitching About Stripping

So, I glopped stripper all over another door to the butler’s pantry.

And nothing happened.

I pushed the brush against the glop.

And nothing happened.

I waited some more. Then pushed the brush against the glop.

And nothing happened.

I stared at the door, uncomprehending. Huh? Rather than all the paint bubbling, the door just looked, well, wet. Again, I pushed the brush against the glop.

And nothing happened.

OK. This was weird.


It took a while but I figured out the problem. On the left is the stripper I always use. The stuff is fierce! The can on the right appears to be the same thing but with a new label. OK.


I could only think of one thing: there was more afoot than just a new label. While both cans state “works in 15 minutes” this was SO not true for the can on the right.

After a half-hour, some of the paint came off. But this was not easy. With the left can, the paint comes off almost instantly. More 2 minutes than 15. This makes Ross very happy.

After 45 minutes and only with about 20% of the paint off, I gave up.

On the way home I stopped at a different hardware store and they had the OLD label stripper. Returning the next day the the Cross House, I glopped the stripper all over the door. Almost instant disolvation was my reward.

Conclusion? The right can was not just a  new label. It is a new formula.

Then I noticed…


…this. See the non-methylene part?


This means nothing to me but it would seem that taking the methylene out of the formula turns the stripper into garbage. Some internet sleuthing revealed that the new formula is sold in California to comply with their environmental regulations. But I live in Kansas. So, why was this stripper in my local hardware store?

I have been using the old formula for decades and love love love it. It works. Quickly. Over the years I have read stories about people using ineffective strippers and citrus strippers and I think: Why aren’t you using the atomic stuff? Throw that wimpy stuff away!

Now, I am terrified that I will soon be forced to use the wimpy stuff. If so, I am putting the house up for sale, and will become a waiter.



…after much ado, the door got done. Squee!!!!!!!!



21 Responses to Bitching About Stripping

  1. Buy up that atomic stripper! That door is so beautiful! As long as you wear gloves and don’t get the stripper on your skin, you will be fine. Why anyone paints indoor wood I will never know.

  2. I agree with Dan up there. Buy a storage container full of that great stuff. I bet you could make a lot of money selling it to people down the line… you know, pushing stripping glop to the neighborhood, behind the Dumpster at the elementary school, late Thursday nights. Cash only.

  3. I believe I read somewhere this past summer when I was stripping 11 layers of paint off my 1781 mantelpiece that the good stuff was being phased out and bannned in certain states. So it might be a good idea to stock up.

  4. You have every right to bitch about this! I share your frustration at once-useful products being made NOT useful… it happens a lot. If the State of California is so concerned about methylene chloride why do they allow the sale and consumption of decaffeinated coffee? Methylene chloride is used to decaffeinate the majority of decaf coffees (which is why I drink the high-test coffee)!

    It reminds me of when they started mandating “water-saving” toilets. They often didn’t flush well, so people were forced to flush twice — immediately negating the purported purpose of saving water.


  5. I think you may have enough room in the house for some “old formula” back stock. Buy a palate of it! You can designate a room for it and call it “The Stripper Room”…which will be much more disappointing than it sounds.

  6. Ha ha ha you guys are funny! I agree, you need to stock up first then contact the manager at the hardware store to find out what the deal is. Maybe he can special order for you. Maybe some hair brained distributor talked him into changing.

  7. Oh how I wish you had made this post a year ago. Dusty and I spent daysssss stripping layer after layer (after layer) of paint off the antique door we bought. The citrus stuff smelled just lovely but took forever! You have filled me with regret!

  8. I would definitely stock up, just in case. Having lived in California my whole life, I’m not surprised that CA is leading the charge. It’s just the kind of thing they would do. When I was a kid, I remember the city council in my home town voted to have cement-lined tunnels dug under the freeway so that squirrels wouldn’t get killed trying to cross the freeway. I’ll always remember that because, even as a kid, it seemed kind of crazy to me, but also super nice of them!

  9. I have used 9- 55 gal. barrels of methylene chloride on the woodwork and doors in my house. I still have one barrel of it. In 1994 a female State Senator brought some doors to strip. I told everyone in Topeka, she came to my house to strip. She did, but they never quite understood. As Ross said, you can still buy the good stuff, just read the label. Rubber gloves, goggles, long sleeve clothing and a bucket of water and rags just in case— and do it in a WELL VENTILATED area. My first barrel we did it in the basement– I barely staggered up the stairs. I’ve also made a trip to the emergency room for stripper in the eye.

    • Doug… I used to strip furniture years ago with this stuff and wore gloves (often not the right kind) and that was it. But NO MORE. I use a full on respirator and heavy rubber chemical loves. I put over 70 hours on the aforementioned mantlepiece and don’t think I’d have a single brain cell left had I not been breathing the stuff.

  10. Nooooo…. I am in Minnesota and just checked Menards online (our regional big box home improvement store). Low inventory and listed as discontinued and out of stock locally. I would suggest buying as many cans as you can safely store! Benjamin Moore’s oil-based Satin Impervo( in my opinion the best available finish for painted woodwork, throw in a little Penetrol which I think is also being discontinued and it flows to a gorgeous satin finish) is almost impossible to find because of air quality regulations in California. I can still get in in quarts at a store about an hour away from where I live but need to get down there to buy more since I am sure it is just a matter of time before it too disappears. I am currently hoarding a half dozen quarts of oil-based floor varnish to touch up the floors I had refinished 30 years ago. The floors are still in great shape but the hallway needs a bit of touch up. Just need to clean, scuff sand, and re-coat. I understand environmental concerns but isn’t it better to use products that hold up over time so it is not necessary to multiple coats of other products to achieve the same results?

  11. Oh the trials of the restorer! I restore antique composition dolls and your trials are very familiar. Remember “house paint”? The product we grew up with is now “enamel”. Not “house paint”, but “enamel.” Ordinary oil based house paint that wears like iron is now banned in California…and all of Canada. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find and I have squirreled away several quarts of the stuff for my dolls. Heck, even Testor enamel is getting hard to find! It’s all acrylic latex and that isn’t good for wood of any kind. The paint stores around me say that they cannot sell good paint in Cali because it’s “harmful to humans.” IMO, being wrapped in plastic is more harmful to the environment! No wonder that Californians appear to have some mental health issues; they’re breathing in all that plastic.
    Why is it that legislators think that adults need protection from themselves? At my age, I have survived other things with impunity, why do I need a nanny at this late stage? I’m all for keeping the old products; THEY worked. Let’s let Darwin sort out the inattentive. Oh dear…sorry, rant over.

  12. You do know that methylene chloride is possibly lethal? A quick online search turned up that it has anaesthetic properties and once the concentration in a room is high enough it forms a pool on the floor, with all the breathable air above. So if you faint from the fumes and fall to the floor you’re dead. That’s from the German labour health & safety institution and I don’t really have any reason to doubt that.

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