How to Remove Paint From Wood Furniture

6 Materials
3 Days

When paint is chipping, peeling or completely damaged, we've got to get that paint off of the furniture before we can do anything else to it. So let's talk about how to remove paint from furniture.

This is what the dresser looked like before we started to work on it. The paint was chipping off because of water damage.

We were planning on painting it a dark grey, but we had to get the old paint off before we could paint it again.

Otherwise the new paint would just chip off with the old stuff, and it would look horrible!

We started by testing the paint for lead.

Yes you can still remove lead based paint, and you don't need to call in a pro. You can do it by yourself with a few safety precautions.

The white paint tested negative for lead, but the gold paint tested positive.

When you have lead based paint, it's best to remove it with a chemical stripper instead of sanding it. I wouldn't recommend sanding anyway because it's usually a much longer process, especially when you add in all the details on furniture.

Also be sure to gear up with your safety gear that is recommended for lead removal, so you don't ingest it in any way.

We put a nice thick layer of Citristrip Stripper all over the dresser and covered it with plastic wrap to make the stripper work longer and better.

The plastic wrap really works wonders, you neeeeeed to try it!

After we let it sit overnight, we removed the plastic wrap one section at a time and then scrapped off the paint and stripper.

Then we cleaned up the residue with mineral spirits and fine steel wool. And then we let the dresser dry for a day or so.

Once it was dry we sanded the wood down nice and smooth.

Instead of painting the dresser grey, we decided to go with a raw wood look.

So we sealed the wood with poly and finished off the "raw wood" look with a thin coat of a homemade cream colored wax.

Here it is all finished up with new hardware!!

Get even more details on this process over on our blog!

P.S. This post contains some affiliate links. These help you to find the products that we use, and they don't cost you a thing. But the company might pay us a small amount for sharing.

Suggested materials:

  • Citristrip Stripper
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Scraper
See all materials

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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Pam Davis
    Pam Davis
    on Nov 24, 2018

    Any thoughts on veneer?

  • Bridgette Saunders
    Bridgette Saunders
    on Mar 20, 2019

    How do you distress wood look for cabinets? And dry bush how to do it

    • Natalie
      on Mar 21, 2019

      Dry brush is when you put just a little tiny bit of paint on the tip of your brush and then you dab most of that off onto a paper towel until the paint brush is almost dry.

      You can distress with 220 grit sandpaper.

  • Sharon
    on Sep 6, 2020

    It looks great and I appreciate that you can use a chemical stripper on lead paint but I was wondering about the disposal of the used stripper with the lead paint in it. Does it need to be disposed of as hazardous waste or is it safe to dispose of in the regular trash?

    • Natalie
      on Sep 6, 2020

      You’ll need to check out your local regulations and rules to find out.

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