How to Remove Paint, Scuffs and Scratches From Wood Furniture

2 Materials
1 Hour

How to Remove Paint from Wood Furniture – fixing a whoopsie on our table… Literally DECADES ago my Mom promised me this beautiful table that her parents (my grandparents) built for her. She had stumbled upon the base, or someone had it given to her… or something that memory does not serve anymore and her parents built the top for it.

Its gorgeous. I’ve always loved it. We generally only use the table for actual dining when we have company over. After that this table is our SERIOUS anything goes zone.

Before Lodi came into my life this table was used for one thing for me: TOOLS.

Yep, I know, it seems ridiculous, but the dining room table ended up project central for me. I wouldn’t  put a tool away in the workshop if I was going to need it again soon so it would end up here. (Yes that also includes paint which is how the worst of my problems here happened…)

Since then, with Lodi in my life and also multiple changes made to the house, the table is no longer taking my abuse anymore! (Mostly Lodi just can’t stand it so, if he knows where something belongs, he puts it away sometimes before I’m even done using it. This house has NEVER been so clean!)

We use our table now mostly for laundry folding, gift wrapping and as a landing zone when we bring anything into the home. It works. Its great.

Unfortunately, it still bares the scars of my past abuse…

Before I bought this home back in 2013 I set out with all of my heirloom furniture to refinish. Because my Mom took very good care of it this table was the least of my problems and took very little time. One light sanding over everything, a new coat of stain and several coats of poly acrylic was all it needed.

Since then though (yes its entirely my fault) its been paint marked and pretty beat up.

I grabbed some fine grit sand paper, polyacrylic and dark walnut stain.

I knew I would be doing at least a little “refinishing” what I was trying to avoid was having to sand down the entire table top and totally refinish the whole thing!

It took some work but, eventually, with some very careful scrubbing, sanding and scraping, I got all the white paint off! I then did a light hand sand with fine grit sand paper over the entire surface and cleaned it thoroughly with vinegar and water.

I got lucky that the old clear coat was still in good enough shape that the paint only adhered to it so I didn’t have to go very deep into the stained wood surface.

Dark Walnut by Minwax is always my go-to stain.

I rubbed a light coat of stain into the entire top and gave it a few minutes before thoroughly buffing it all off with a rag. I let it dry a good hour after that.

Over the course of a couple of days I applied three coats of a semi gloss poly acrylic also by Minwax.

I am so glad it turned out just as lovely as the first time I refinished this old table. I learned my lesson and our beautiful table now sports a table cloth to protect it most of the time!

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


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Marizon1969
    on Jan 14, 2021

    Will that stain work with a darker color. My table is dark mahogany ( I think 😂)

    • GrandmasHouseDIY
      on Jan 14, 2021

      It should! The mahoganies are a but more red I've found but if you're not filling in a lot a walnut should work fine :)

  • Letty Tantoy
    Letty Tantoy
    on Jan 14, 2021

    I have a light gray color center table with scratches during the move from California to Las Vegas Can you please advise how to make it look like new again? Thank you.

    • GrandmasHouseDIY
      on Jan 14, 2021

      Hi Letty I would really lightly hand sand those scratches out so you can't feel them anymore and then try to find a matching gray to lightly repaint them. After that a couple of coats of a sealant and you should be good to go :)

Join the conversation

4 of 11 comments
  • Sandra Korbar
    Sandra Korbar
    on Jan 24, 2021

    I'm going to try this on my table. Beautiful. Love a wood projects.

  • Kendra
    on Feb 13, 2021

    Great job Bill!!!

    Does anyone know how to get baby dried baby formula off of cherry wood?

    • GrandmasHouseDIY
      on Feb 16, 2021

      Hi Kendra, you might want to ask this question in the Hometalk DIY forum too! I would try goo be gone first with a gentle scrubby brush and then hot water mixed with dish soap.

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