Please read before refinishing furniture!
Stripping the old, scratched up, stained finish off of furniture and bringing it back to life again with a new beautiful finish can be very rewarding.
You can save money by refinishing furniture and I want to share refinishing tips with you to save you time and frustration.
Where to strip Furniture
Always work in a very well ventilated area. If needed you may strip the old finish outside in a shady spot. You can catch the waste by spreading old newspaper on the floor or ground. The fumes generated when refinishing furniture can be harmful.
What to wear
I always wear pants, a long sleeve shirt, stripping gloves, and safety goggles. It doesn’t seem to matter how careful you are, stripper will splash on any place you don’t have covered.
If you get varnish or paint remover on you!
You need to read the product you are using to see what to use. Some strippers clean up with water, some with mineral spirits. Which ever you are using, keep some water near in case you splash stripper on your skin and need to neutralize it by wiping with a wet rag to keep the stripper from burning you. Try cleaning the area with soapy water first. I’m not recommending it but I sometimes use mineral spirits to get the stripper off if it won’t quit burning then I clean again with soapy water.
What stripping tools I use
I use old paint brushes, rags, wood scrapers, putty knives and little picks to help remove the old finish. I will use a rag or steel wool wet with liquid stripper to get the finish off and wipe finials or any turned wood to really clean the finish off.
Furniture stripper I use
I use a paint and varnish remover I buy from my local home improvement warehouse. Make sure you shake it up well and follow the instructions on the product you are using. I pour some in a bowl and use a paint brush to put the stripper on. You can’t use a synthetic brush with strippers that contain use a methylene chloride base because it will melt the bristles.
Start by removing all hardware
Brush on the finish stripper and only use as many brush strokes as needed for a thick coat. Some strippers are nothing more than a thinner or remover with wax added to rise to the top and dry, hence keeping the thinner or remover from evaporating before it can do its job of breaking down the finish.
Test an area with a putty knife to see if the finish is ready to come off.
I usually have to repeat the stripping process a few time because most furniture has multiple coats of paint or they have a top coat of varnish or polyurethane over a stain.
Removing the dissolved finish
I use a putty knife, scrapers, steel wool or even rags to remove the old paint or varnish. It just depends on what seems to be working best for what I’m removing and what it’s on. (flat surface, moldings, turnings)
Rags or steel wool work well on moldings and turnings such as spindles.
Clean the wood
Use mineral spirits or lacquer thinner to clean of any wax residue left from the stripper. Do not pile the rags and news paper up. Let stripper solvent, mineral spirits, and lacquer thinner fully evaporate out of all rags and news paper before discarding. Check local law before just throwing away. Don’t forget to check out furniture refinishing projects I have done.
Furniture refinishing books to help you with your refinishing projects and furniture finish repair markers to hide scratches and knicks.
Here are some items to make your funiture refinishing project a little easier and safer.