Citristrip & Saran Wrap to Remove Finishes

8 Materials
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.
Stephanie  Coon/Rehab to Fab
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  • Susan 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.

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  • Danielle Danielle on Jun 11, 2020

    Will the spray on version of Citristrip work the same way, using the Saran Wrap?

  • Gig69451122 Gig69451122 on Dec 22, 2022

    I've been refinishing furniture for several years. This idea a new one, & sounds great. One question. Doesn't the chemical cause the saran wrap to melt? If so, the wrap turns into powder, or clumps to remove? Thanks!

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  • Gina Gina on Oct 27, 2021

    In 2 occasions the Citristrip was on a little over 24 hours and it won't come off. The weird parts it's not dried. Even when I tested this for fist time it was amazing. So what to do now add more to the areas cover again, squeezing out as much air as possible, then wait 12 hours maybe? Unless I can get it off another way. I'm just proud that I am doing what u guys have been doing for years. As for crevices I wish and glad I didn't get as much on the underside lattice because places it did was very hard to get out. But right now I'm having trouble with a dresser. That's why I wish it was just dry and I can sand it.

    • Jacqueline Jacqueline on Jan 24, 2022

      Same. My citristrip doesn’t seem to work the same as everyone else’s. It’s barely removing anything and has been wrapped for 24 hours as we speak. 😞

  • Gina Gina on Jan 26, 2022

    Well I use this method on another piece that I've yet to complete cuz it's very cold and I don't have a location that is warm enough to do this but I was able to strip it I just avoided any tight crevices and it work like a dream. I will say I noticed a difference based on temperature the warmer the better because it keeps it activated or something it does something to it. so if it's definitely wrap it like you suggested I think it'll be fine if the environment is nice and warm