Stripping Furniture

Under 2 hours

Quickly remove old or peeling paint from hardwood furniture

Stripping Furniture

When applying a new finish to wood furniture, its necessary to completely strip away old pain or stains. Strippers are divided into paste and liquid types. Paste strippers are thick and gooey and cling to vertical surfaces as well as nooks and crannies. They're great for stripping thick layers of finish equally. More difficult to apply evenly, liquid strippers work well to remove thin finishes as well as small parts that can be dipped. After using a paste stripper to remove most of the finish, use a liquid stripper to remove remaining finish in hard to reach spots. This guide will walk you through the process of stripping paint from wood furniture with chemical removers.

Tip: Products labeled furniture refinishers and restorers are designed to remove finishes along with steel wool. They require more elbow grease and they work well on finishes that are not heavily built up.

Safety: Many furniture-stripping products contain caustic chemicals. Use them cautiously in a well-ventilated space (outdoors, if possible, or near an open door or window). Wear protective gloves and safety glasses, and use a fan to draw fumes out of the room.


Apply the stripper
Apply the stripper - Stripping Furniture

• Place the furniture on newspapers over a canvas drop cloth.
• Brush on the stripper, working from the top of the piece down—top, then sides, then legs, etc.
• With liquid stripper, it's important to apply it and leave it alone—don't rebrush it to even out. Liquid stripper tends to spatter and spray off the brush when you're applying it to irregular surfaces.

Safety: Brush the chemical stripper on carefully to avoide splatter. If anything gets on your skin, flush it off immediately with clean water.

Let sit then scrape finish off
Let sit scrape finish off - Stripping Furniture

Do not rush the wait time! Wait as long as directed on the label, then scrape off the old finish and stripper with a wide-bladed putty knife.

Tip: Slightly round the sharp corners of a metal knife with a file to prevent gouging the wood. Plastic putty knives are a good and inexpensive alternative if you don't want to alter a metal knife.

Use steel wool
Use steel wool - Stripping Furniture

• Use steel wool on irregular surfaces such as turned legs or carved moldings.
• Start with a coarse grade of steel wool (#00, double aught) to remove most of the stripper and finish.
• Go back over the surfaces with very fine steel wool #000 (triple aught) or #0000 (four aught).
• You can also use synthetic steel wool for this—it doesn't break apart like regular steel wool does.

Use wire brush for detail work
Use wire brush detail work - Stripping Furniture

• Use a wire brush or old toothbrush for carved surfaces and turned parts.
• Table legs, stylized carvings and bedposts often have recessed details that need special attention.
• After the surrounding areas have been stripped, brush fresh stripper into the recessed areas and let the stripper work.
• Remove the stripper and old finish with a soft, brass-wire brush or toothbrush.

Wash off residue
Wash off residue - Stripping Furniture

• If you don't remove all the stripper, the new finish won't adhere well.
• Wash down the piece with a rag and plenty of mineral spirits (paint thinner).
• Once you clean off the piece, you'll probably find areas where some of the old finish is still intact.
• Reapply stripper to the area, remove it after the recommended time, and rinse again with mineral spirits.