Citristrip & Saran Wrap to Remove Finishes


This antique coffee table was given to me by my neighbor. When I refinish a piece and want to re-stain the top I either use my sander or use this Citristrip/Saran Wrap trick. I use the CS/SW trick when there are layers and layers of paint or delicate creases & details. The Citristrip gets in the crevices and does the job. The Saran Wrap is Citristrip's side kick! It keeps the heat in and makes the Citristrip work more effectively.
My plans were to re-stain the top and paint the bottom white & glaze the details. BUT Oh how plans change when you listen to the piece.
First you lather a good amount of Citristrip to the surface. Get it into the crevasses really well.
I use cheap ol' Saran Warp.
Making sure I push all the air out and push it into all the nooks & crannies.
I leave it for 12-24 hrs.
Come back a day later and the magic has happened!
It turns the previous varnish, stain or paint into light powder like substance. It's not the gooey, sticky Citristrip substance that you get when you don't wait a day or so to remove.
I use 50/50 D-natured alcohol/H20 & a soft bristle tooth brush to remove excess Citristrip.
I then set the table in the sun for a few hrs to dry out. Took my 180 grit sand paper and smoothed it out with my sander.
A coat of wood conditioner that I make (50/50 Shellac/D-natured alcohol) & let it dry. The seal with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.
This is when I knew that the choice of not painting was the best choice for this piece. Look at the two toned color of the wood. I don't always paint!
That beautiful top was been ignored but not any longer!!
You can see more of my pieces on my FB pge Rehab to Fab.
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Stephanie  Coon/Rehab to Fab

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 63 questions
  • Lynda
    on Aug 29, 2019

    I just bought two large solid wood doors but they have slats all doy the middle. How do I get the air out when using this method?

  • Deb
    on Oct 12, 2019

    Good call. That is beautiful wood.(wood nerd that I am) you did a fantastic job and brought him back to his better days

  • Susan
    on Nov 23, 2019

    I want to use this to remove the crackle paint finish on my fireplace mantel and surround. It has crevices and detailing. Should I use the Citristrip Gel or Paste? Should I proceed in sections? Since I can’t move the mantel out into the sun to dry, should I lightly blow it dry with my blow dryer? Any other tips I should be aware of? Thank you.

Join the conversation

2 of 414 comments
  • Tanya
    on Nov 28, 2019

    How lovely and I will definitely try this method great rehab

  • SnowKnitty
    24 minutes ago

    Thanks for all the formulas you use and for explaining how Citristrip should be used to avoid the "gooey, sticky Citristrip substance". (That's what I got last time. Yuck!)

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