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How to Strip Paint

Refinish Furniture With a Chemical or Eco-Friendly Citrus Paint Stripper and a Bit of Elbow Grease

© 2011 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

Box with Zebrawood Drawer Faces

You can save money by repainting old furniture like coffee tables instead of buying new items. But of course it’s not just furniture that can be repainted.

You can repaint fences, doors; anything wooden. But first you will need to treat the wood. If it has already been painted you will need to strip the existing paint before priming and adding your own.

You can buy chemical and organic paint stripper like citrus-based products from all DIY shops and home improvement stores. You will only need a small amount for a small project; more for larger ones.

Refinishing Material List

  • Paint stripper (chemical or natural, such as a citrus-based product)
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Steel or copper wool
  • Scraper
  • Personal protection equipment (goggles, gloves (type specific for your stripper), respirator for chemicals

Refinish Your Woodworking Project Methodically

Work slowly and in stages by dabbing the stripper onto the paint using an old paintbrush. Put the lid back on the bottle while you are not using it and always open windows or doors to minimize inhaling fumes.

Always wear goggles and gloves. Working in your well-ventilated garage or work shop or outside would be beneficial.

In some cases, if removing paint from a large area like a door or dining room furniture, you can speed up the process by using a heat gun (also available from DIY shops) first.

Do this before applying stripper to remove the remaining paint, but be gentle and do not leave the heat on one part of the wood for too long in case you burn it. It’s much better to make multiple passes.

Remember that different finishes react differently and that excessive heat may loosen glue used in wood joints which will get you into a whole new area of woodworking.

Remove the Old Paint Carefully

After leaving the stripper to work its magic on the paint — different products will require different lengths of time to work (refer to the container label); gently scrape the paint away using a scraper. Be gentle so you do not damage the wood underneath.

If the stripper has been left on long enough the paint will come away easily. Work in the direction of the wood grain. When working with intricate molding you might need to use steel or copper wool to get into the nooks and crannies.

Do not use course steel wool like some sites recommend in order to speed the process as this will damage the surface and the time saved will be spent again sanding for a smooth finish surface. Instead, use the finest grades available; while “0000” is acceptable, “0000” should be fine.

Refinishing Project Preparation

After you have removed the paint, wipe the wood down with warm water as this will neutralize the remnants to stripper left on the surface so as not to damage it unnecessarily. Leave for at least 24 hours before you either stain and seal or prime and repaint.

You may have to sand your project lightly with a very fine grade of sandpaper as the water may raise the grain.

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© 2011 Website by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

© 2011 Article by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.