How do you strip paint from windows from the 1800's ?

by Katieb

Our house has some very old windows. As much as I would like to keep them, I worry about the lead in the paint. If I use a chemical solution to strip paint off the wood window frames, is there a safe one out there that will neutralize the lead? These windows have pull out pins to place them when open. Not the weights found in most old windows.

  15 answers
  • Funnygirl Funnygirl on Jan 02, 2015
    You can buy a kit for less than 10.00 at lowes,ace,home depot.You most likely do have lead paint if the windows are old. I would speak to someone in the paint department for the best type of paint to repaint instead of stripping.A paint store is another great may need to go to several locations to find someone who really knows what they are talking will know when you find the right person with good may need to prime first.
  • Jennifer Distasio Grady Jennifer Distasio Grady on Jan 02, 2015
    When I was 12, I helped my grandfather scrape our old windows (c 1900). Honestly, he used a heat gun and scraper, and wore a mask. I don't know how safe it was, but it was over 30 years ago, and he let me help. The windows had to be stripped down so we could open and close them properly (years of interior stain build up and exterior paint build up).
  • Darlene House Darlene House on Jan 02, 2015
    orange citristrip from walmart , lowes etc... its a gel that paint on and let dry then scrape off
  • CaptTCB CaptTCB on Jan 03, 2015
    Any paint stripper will work in removing the lead paint. I removed around 340 sashes from my 100 year old five story apartment building removed the lead paint with a heat gun and scraper, sanded them, primed and repainted. You should try to do this work outside as lead paint chips and dust will get spread around. Paint stripper is expensive and very messy. I did this in the basement of the building wearing a mask and cleaning up by wet mopping the floor and washing surrounding surfaces but you can't get all of it.
  • Nancy Jenkins Nancy Jenkins on Jan 03, 2015
    First you should check if lead and or asbestus based. The dust from these can make very sick. Mask, gloves, and disposible suit. My last house was built 1824 and had it checked. Anything done before 1980's has to be checked what I heard.
  • Linda Hunt Linda Hunt on Jan 03, 2015
    The most important advice I can add is that no matter what method you use to strip these beautiful old windows is to wear a filter mask to prevent inhaling the LEAD contained in the paint. There is zero doubt that it does contain lead. Using a gel stripper is the safest as it will not migrate to your paint around the area.
  • Barbara Burnham Barbara Burnham on Jan 03, 2015
    A green-eyed doubt it contains lead. However, read the EPA website on lead abatement. It is illegal to remove more than either 20 or 25 Sq ft without a licensed professional and waste must be bagged special and disposed of as hazardous waste material. If a neighbor reports you the fine will be far greater than the cost of a professional. me on this.
  • Cassie Binder Cassie Binder on Jan 03, 2015
    If you have a Preservation Group in your community, call them. They will be happy to guide and help you through the process and perhaps help you apply to place your house on the Historic Registry. It truly is great fun to have a beautiful "old" house.
    • Kelly S Kelly S on Jan 03, 2015
      @Cassie Binder What a great idea. They may even be able to help find a reputable lead abatement company. Special training and qualifications are needed to remove lead paint. I work in an industrial setting and have periodic training on what not to do as a general worker. I don't have the qualifications to perform lead work. Getting busted by the EPA is painful $$ wise but one's health is not something to mess with.
  • JHayes JHayes on Jan 03, 2015
    I don't want to scare you or appear to be a know-it-all but lead is a very serious toxin for children up to the age of six and pregnant women (it affects the developing fetus). However, it is also a problem for adults. If you remove the paint then the removed paint and any materials that are part of the removal process that will be discarded may be considered a hazardous or special waste and may need to be disposed of appropriately. Check with your local government to determine if this is true. I understand the desire to want to DIY but I urge you to really investigate either having this done professionally or paint over what is present so that the leaded paint is not disturbed. For more information on lead for DIYers go here: If you want more information on lead go to The ATSDR is also a good source that has more detailed (and sometimes not as easy to understand) information on lead toxicity. Go here for that: but you can also google lead, atsdr as well. I hope this helps and doesn't appear too preachy. However, my intent is to make sure you understand the risks involved, that doing this incorrectly can be expensive both in $$ and your health, and protect yourself and anyone else that might be exposed. I also want you to read about the issues associated with doing this yourself so you can make the right decision for you and your family (forgive me if I make the assumption that you have a family).
  • Becca Becca on Jan 03, 2015
    Our house was built in the 1800's and the areas that still have original paint are milk paint, not lead. Very hard to remove, doesn't like to come out of the little crevices.
  • Jen Jen on Jan 03, 2015
    After doing all of ours in a 1923 Craftsman home I can honestly say the best and somewhat easiest way was using a heat gun!
  • Carole Carole on Jan 03, 2015
    My answer would be 'very carefully". Sorry, I could not resist. If you are using a heat gun, be careful not to scorch the wood or hold it too close for too long in case you crack the glass.
  • 918210 918210 on Jan 03, 2015
    Don't mess with it. Hire a professional
  • Toni Hayward Toni Hayward on Jan 04, 2015
    Check out Nicole Curtis from the DIY/HGTV show Rehab Addict - she restores & saves old/historic homes. She advocates fro the saving of original doors, windows, trim, floors, etc. in the homes she takes on. She might have info on her Facebook page or her pages on or She will restore windows, doors, floors, etc that ohter shows replace.