This trim is 60 years old and had at least 6 different layers of paint which resulted in it being difficult to see the delineation between the multiple layers of trim.

I used smart strip. It worked great, but it also seemed to damage the wood and make it look stringy. It's way past fuzzy, it's hairy.

How do I fix this? Can it even be fixed? Will it be sandable once it's totally dried?

enter image description hereOr is the only solution to paint some glue on to secure the fibers, add wood filler to the damaged spots, and then paint over it?

At this point I'm thinking the easiest thing to do is remove the trim, and let it dry thoroughly in the sun after using the citric acid neutralizer.

I'm thinking that removing the trim from the wall will make it easier to work on and hopefully fix it, especially that small curved piece on the inside.

My spouse thinks that this was installed by a professional trim carpenter and that we'll never be able to reinstall it correctly if it's removed.

Hiring someone is not an option.

  • 1
    Sanding can do wonders and if you start coarse as the Answer suggests you'll likely be surprised at just how quickly this will go. Change your paper often as needed so it's cutting well (if you can easily get it, use Cubitron II, the best sandpaper out there currently, will outlast anything else by a large margin). Two important details re. working your way up through the grits are the progression and where to stop. A good progression will be 60, 100, 150, then stop. You do not need to sand any finer than this if you intend to repaint. If you want to use a clear finish, then use 220.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 9:07
  • Some stringing after stripping (from the scraping action of a scraper, and/or the use of coarse steel wool) is to be expected, especially if you don't scrape/scour in the direction of the grain. This is not always possible, but it should be substantially reduced on subsequent parts if you try to notice early which direction the problem is worst and then work accordingly.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 9:08
  • "the citric acid neutralizer." Why are you using this? This would only neutralise if the product were alkaline, which it specifically states that it is not. Reality check: there's a lot of guff written in generic guides to stripping and far too many mention a 'neutralising' step which is unnecessary and needlessly adds to cost, and sometimes time. The reality is that most strippers don't need to be (and can't be) neutralised per se, all you actually need to do afterwards is clean off or rinse away residue, that's it — which is exactly what the instructions for Clean Strip call for.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 9:17

1 Answer 1


I can't say for sure, but I strongly suspect that a good hand sanding (start at 60, work your way up) will fix all that ails you. Wear gloves to minimize splinters. And if it doesn't produce the results you want, you really aren't any further behind.

As a general statement, removing and reinstalling trim can cause problems. Old wood can be brittle and prone to breaking. You'll probably have plaster damage that then needs to be remediated. You might discover twists/warps that were previously held in check by nails.

  • once I finish getting the rest of the lead paint off, I'll give the sanding a try. The picture is just a small section of what is closest to being finished. my hope with removing the trim would be that we could clean up that room, finish installing the floor, and have it be usable again. Right now, because of the paint, it's sealed off and I'm not able to work on it as much as I would like.
    – user12721
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 8:00
  • I do wonder though if that curved bit is a lost cause and should just be replaced. The amount of time and effort it will take to repair it is going to be significant because of the shape. The other parts of the trim are essentially flat.
    – user12721
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 8:05
  • @user12721, you don't have to be excessively worried about the lead paint. In fact it actually can be said with some certainty that you don't have to worry about it at all, unless you're sanding it. Lead paint poses essentially zero risk in situ — generations of homeowners all over the world weren't getting appreciable lead exposure from the lead white used in their home interiors. It's only if you sand it, turning it into a fine particulate that can be inhaled or ingested (or directly ingested, as with kids chewing on the woodwork) that there was actually any risk.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 8:50
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    Agree that sound lead paint can be safely encapsulated, but the US EPA says, “Lead-based paint is still present in millions of homes, normally under layers of newer paint. If the paint is in good shape, the lead-based paint is usually not a problem. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) is a hazard and needs immediate attention.” epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-sources-lead Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 13:56
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate You are absolutely correct. What's just as bad as dust is chips, because some children will purposefully eat them. Not just because kids of a certain age put everything in their mouths, but also because, apparently, it actually tastes good to them - I think it's somewhat sweet.
    – MattDMo
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 18:07

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