Strip or paint?


I have an old Martha Washington? sewing cabinet that my mother "antiqued" back in the 60's into that lovely shade of green and gold that was popular back then. I want to redo it but don't know what to do. Should I just paint over it or is there an easy way to strip it down and start fresh with it??

  12 answers
  • Gk Gk on Apr 17, 2020

    You can chose to refinish your sewing cabinet either way. It is more work to strip old paint off than to paint over it but you might be surprised with some beautiful old wood that is worth restoring. Many old sewing cabinets were made from oak and I always like to see oak refinished--though I have painted over old oak myself! There is not an easy way to strip-it is what it is! You can chose to use a traditional stripper like Kleen Strip outside/in a garage/open area or a less toxic stripper that you can use inside the house like CitriStrip. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. I think you have to decide what you would like to see in your final piece and think about what goes into your home. Wood or paint. You can lovingly refinish a old family piece with pride and lots of sweat equity or you can paint over it and be satisfied that it didn't take that long! Choices, choices!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Apr 17, 2020

    Speaking from experience, I bought a turn of the century treadle sewing machine in it's cabinet a long time ago, it is oak. The only problem with the cabinet is someone had painted it green, so I had it stripped. The majority of the paint came off but you can still see the green in the tight corners. They told me green is one of the hardest colors to remove. I am not sure how true this is but it is the color that has tiny remnants in the wood.

    The stripper to use would be Citri Strip, it is the most non-toxic paint stripper.

    It sounds like a fun project.

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Apr 17, 2020

    Kim: you can paint over virtually anything with chalk paint!

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Apr 17, 2020

    Often those old pieces are stunning because of the solid wood that their made of. Painting over would be the easiest option but if you're willing to strip it off and take the time to sand it then as well, there's a good chance the wood grain will be absolutely stunning. Than you can stain etc. but I would find out first what's under there just as respect to an old piece.

  • Paint stripper is an easy option. Or paint over with chalk paint.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 17, 2020

    Strip the item first and then decide after seeing what you have what to do. Be patient and see what the wood under that paint looks like.

  • Cindy Cindy on Apr 17, 2020

    Hi Kim. I recommend using a palm sander or attach a piece of sandpaper around a block of wood and sanding off the current finish. Start with a 80 grit sandpaper, then change to a 220 grit and then finally to a 400 grit sandpaper. Be sure to clean all of the sawdust off with a damp cloth. Then prime, paint and seal. Use a foam brush or a roller so that there won't be any brush lines in the end result. Good luck Kim. Stay well and healthy.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Apr 18, 2020

    YAY! It is probably solid wood if it is that old. You could strip it.....but I always like to just go for it and start sanding. You can skip that step but just make sure that you know there will be more dust and you should wear a mask and attach a vacuum.

    if you are just going to paint again, you could sand it smooth...start with lower number grit and work your way up to 220. Then primer it. Then I would steel wool or lightly sand again before you add your paint coats(using any good paint) This gives that super soft paint finish. You could even use a sprayer for a pro finish. You can finish it off with a general finishes topcoat which is a great sealer.

    More expensive way....Benjamin Moore ADVANCE!! $50 per gallon but it's so worth it. That paint is an excellent cabinet paint and you don't need a topcoat. I seriously just wipe it down when it gets dirty.

    I used ADVANCE on my sewing table because if you sew, you know how the pins can scrape as it forwards through the sewing machine. The ADVANCE will be a surefire way your cabinet won't get wear and scratched up. It is SUPER HEAVY DUTY paint. A cabinet paint mainly used for kitchens and bathrooms, but I use it for furniture that needs to be extra tough!!! Anyway, hope this helps. Benjamin Moore comes in all those beautiful colors so with advance you can pick whatever color they have in their store. Good luck!

    If you stain:

    I didn't even talk about it, but if you want to just stain it you could do that as well. Consider using a sealer like Waterlox. I have an entire staining process on one of my posts. If you follow the directions closely for staining, you will get an amazing soft finish. Just like buying a stained piece of furniture in the store. Here are some directions for staining:

    Good luck!!!! Sounds like a great project:)

  • Janice Janice on Apr 18, 2020

    You can use Citri-Strip to remove the old finish. Spread it on then use plastic bags or plastic wrap over the top for a half-hour or so while the stripper works. Scrape off the gunk and clean well. If you need to, you can then sand using coarse to fine sandpaper in stages. How cool that you're followiong in your Mom's footsteps of diy-ing! Paint or tain, your choice and do what makes you happy. Enjoy the process and the outome!

  • Em Em on Apr 19, 2020

    I vote for chalk paint. No prep needed just put two coats of your favorite color over top.

    depending on your taste you can use antiquing wax on the edges or distress letting a little of the color and wood beneath show.

  • Kim Compo Kim Compo on Apr 20, 2020

    Thank you, does home depot carry chalk paint do you know??