I am happy this is nearing the finish line, and I’m pleased with how much better it looks, but this is marred by the deep and abiding knowledge that I have basically tortured and abused myself for no good reason. I say again, it would have been better to just buy a new door.
Of course, I don’t know what is involved in swapping out a sidelight, probably the whole flipping door / trim, EVERYTHING would have to come out and E and I would have ended up wailing and gnashing our teeth in the fetal position on the floor in the process.
Yes, let’s tell ourselves that. This way, though painful, was better.
I went back to la Home Depot and purchased super strength paint stripper and kicked myself for not getting the good stuff from the beginning. I can’t find it on the Home Depot website, but it is the stuff that will work in 15 minutes and will basically take your face off if you get any on your skin. I got a drop on my ankle before I realized I needed to fully suit up (duh) and I have a little blister there.
That stuff ate the rest of the paint off like it was nothing – the door was especially cooperative; it was super easy to sand the original primer smooth. The sidelight put up a fight. More on that in a bit. After scraping the door I just had to wash it with mineral spirits, then banged in the protruding holes with a hammer so I could patch them (someone had installed a knocker at some point, under the big window… weird placement, but whatever, they must have really, really wanted a knocker), and did my first Bondo application, which was fairly straightforward.
The sidelight was harder to scrape due to its size and the window trim, but in the easy-to-reach areas, the burn-your-face-off stripper worked really well (ahem, please insert crass joke of your choice), and I discovered the sidelight had once been painted a mustard color. (Blurry after-dark photo:)
I was losing daylight Saturday night, so I don’t have any good photos of the sidelight nightmare, but what happened was the stripper basically melted the window trim. As I was scraping the layers of paint, I could tell something was wrong, but the plastic was so soft I thought it must be caulk I was scraping up… there is so much caulk in this house it made sense. Working by the light of a glaring work light as the sun went down did not help things.
It was nearing 10pm and my body felt like I’d been run over a few dozen times, so I just sanded the melted stuff the best I could and went ahead and painted. At least it’ll look okay-ish until I can find another secondhand window kit to swap it out (the new ones are so expensive).
Allll the bad words, guys. I don’t know WHY I didn’t remove the window kit while I was stripping the paint… it would have made it so much easier to get into the nooks and crannies and I wouldn’t have melted the plastic trim; I just didn’t think about it.
You can see the paint stripper made a mess of the trim, but I do think I’m just going to keep the trim white, so I can touch that up next weekend.
The paint we ended up using is Ottertail by Behr. It’s a brownish gray, sort of a dark taupe, I guess? I just couldn’t get behind the reddish browns as I’m not a fan of earth tones as it is, and this felt more neutral to me. Here’s how it looks with the stone:
Ugh. Ignore the horrible, sad porch paint. The color is so wrong. It ruins everything.
And here’s a wider shot including more of the house. I think the house really wants a nice solid wood door with a solid no-window sidelight (since the rain gutter gets in the way anyway).
But mostly it wants that horrible porch paint gone. I mean, right? It’s so terrible and reads soooooo blue as the sun starts to go down behind the house (probably what’s going on in that top photo). At some point I’ll either strip it to the concrete below, or I’ll try a pressure washer. It’s pretty flaky so maybe a pressure washer would get most of it up.