Stripping Furniture: How to Easily Remove Old Paint & Finishes

I took an old chest of drawers and learned how to strip the furniture of its old finish. I'll guide you through the process of stripping furniture to give it a fresh look. Stripping furniture is a great way to remove old paint or finish and prepare the surface for refinishing.

Before you begin, ensure you're working in a well-ventilated area. Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and hands from any chemicals. Here's how to strip paint from wood furniture:

Tools and materials

  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Drop cloths or newspapers
  • Screwdriver
  • Paintbrush or old rag
  • Paint stripper
  • Plastic scraper or putty knife
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Acetone
  • Clean rags or paper towels
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (120-220 grit)
  • Dust mask
  • Stain or paint (if desired)
  • Varnish or clear coat (if desired)
How to strip furniture
Removing hardware

Step 1: Remove hardware

Remove all handles, knobs, or hinges using a screwdriver.

Applying paint stripper

Step 2: Apply paint stripper

Lay down drop cloths or newspapers to protect your work area. Using an old paintbrush or rag, apply a generous coat of paint stripper to the surface of the furniture. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and safety precautions.

Allow the paint stripper to sit on the surface for the time specified on the product's instructions. This usually takes around 15-30 minutes, but it may vary depending on the brand you're using and the type of finish you're removing.

Scraping off the finish

Step 3: Scrape off the finish

Once the paint stripper has softened the old finish, use a plastic scraper or putty knife to gently scrape off the softened paint or varnish. Be careful not to gouge or damage the wood. For stubborn areas, you can use a nylon scrub brush to help remove the finish.

Wiping the furniture with acetone

Step 4: Wipe off with acetone

After you've removed as much of the old finish as possible, dampen a clean rag or paper towel with acetone. Wipe down the furniture to remove any remaining residue. This will help clean the surface and prepare it for the next steps. Let the acetone air dry completely.

Finished furniture

Step 5: Lightly sand

Put on a dust mask to protect yourself from dust particles. Using fine-grit sandpaper (around 120-220 grit), lightly sand the entire surface of the furniture. This will smooth out any remaining imperfections and create a good base for staining or painting.

Stripped furniture

Step 6: Apply stain or paint (optional)

If you want to stain the wood, apply your chosen wood stain according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you prefer to paint the furniture, apply a coat of paint using smooth, even strokes.

Allow the stain or paint to dry thoroughly before proceeding. Apply varnish or clear coat if desired to protect the newly stripped and stained/painted finish.

Stripping furniture

Stripping furniture

You can successfully strip furniture to remove old finishes and give it a fresh new look. Remember to prioritize safety and take your time to achieve the best results.

Whether you're aiming for a stained or painted finish, your revitalized furniture piece will surely shine in its new form. Let me know in the comments your experiences, tips, and techniques for stripping furniture.

Follow @moderntouchbyjanette on Instagram for more DIY ideas.

Frequently asked questions
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