How to Strip Painted or Stained Wood

5 Materials
6 Hours

Here are some tips and techniques on how to strip old wood and restore it to its natural glory. Recently, I stripped 7 layers from an antique salvaged mantle.

I am sharing techniques that helped me bring this beautiful mantle back to its natural state. This is a project for the One Room Challenge. I'm working on 8 weeks of posts for my Master Bedroom Refresh. This mantle is the inspiration for the least she will be once I am finished with her.

I believe there are 7 layers on the mantle. I can see latex black, yellow, white, mauve-ish beige, yellow gold, oil based white, and the original stain. This photo is after one heavy coat of stripper.

The key to stripping paint and stain is to be patient and let the stripper work. This photo is of a section on which I applied the stripper but only let it sit for about 15 minutes. Consequently, the chemical only reacted to the top layer or two. The previous photo reflects 30 minutes of application. So my biggest tip is to LET IT SIT. Hop over to the blog to see more detail.

You know the stripper is working when the paint starts to bubble. It is important to ensure that the stripper does not dry out during the waiting period. Carefully watch the area and reapply more stripper if the area appears to be drying. This is common especially in old wood with many layers of paint. The paint absorbs the stripper. Just apply another layer and continue your timer.

Keep applying the stripper, wait 30 minutes, scrape the excess and repeat. Most sections of this mantle required 4 coats. You start with a scraper and end with steel wool as the layers are removed. A final coat is advised to completely clean the wood.

This is what I found beneath the 5 layers of paint and stain on my antique salvaged mantle. Once I saw the beautiful tiger oak, I knew I had to strip this entire mantle.

If you love chippy like I love chippy, uncovering these hidden layers is almost overwhelming. The process of deciding when to stop is quite stressful. But it comes down to personal preference and design goals.

Let's just say I love both looks! And I'm determined to find the best way to showcase both. There is absolutely nothing like antique tiger oak!

Suggested materials:

  • Stripper   (Home Depot)
  • Steel wool   (Home Depot)
  • Scraper or multi use tool   (Home Depot)
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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