Since I've owned my house I've wanted to refinish my front door. Why people were/are obsessed with painting over beautiful wood is beyond me. My house, including the front door is about 100 years old. About 2 years ago I attempted to strip the paint off the front door in preparation for refinishing it. I purchased a good chemical stripper and went to work... Nothing happened. After about 2.5 hours of applying, waiting, scraping, and having my house reek of the horrible supposedly "orderless" stripper it didn't work. I was able to see that there was 5 layers of paint applied to the door over the years- white, yellow, blue, red and brown; however after that long I had only stripped the size of a quarter down to the original wood. So, I slapped some of the brown color back on that area and researched refinishing stores.
I discovered a place nearby that would pick up the door and dip the entire door into a solution that would strip all of the paint off, though this would cost $275 and I would still have to sand and stain/polyurethane the door myself. In addition, the back portion of the door is in excellent condition and stained to match the molding in my house. So dipping/stripping would mean I'd have to redo both sides of the door. Needless to say I haven't done this method and the door has remained the same until now!
I was talking to a neighbor recently and they mentioned using a "hot zone" heat gun to strip off paint on a door before. They had one and said I could borrow it. I doubted this method was going to work after my chemical stripping failure but decided to try. Holy cow...it worked! And it worked well! It worked right away and I was able to scrap off 3/4 of the door after about 3 hours of work (clean up time included). I still have to finish the last portion where the leaded glass window is, sand, stain and polyurethane but it's coming along well so far. This hot gun is my new favorite tool and comes highly recommended! I will mention that I sweated off a few pounds on this project but that's because I chose to work on it on a 93 degree day in the middle of summer. DUH! This I would NOT recommend doing.
I'll keep you posted on the progress. Below is a pic of the door as I was working on it. I have more done since the photo was taken.