We Know: How to Strip Wood Furniture

Why strip furniture?

Removing old paint or finish from a piece of furniture will prepare it for a new layer of paint, stain, or fresh finish. Furniture renovated in this way can restore its natural beauty and extend its life.

Is there only one way to strip furniture?

There are two main methods of stripping furniture. One is to use a heat gun specially designed for the purpose which will soften the paint or finish enough to scrape it off the furniture. The other method of stripping is to apply a chemical stripper prior to scraping. Chemical strippers generally take less physical effort but they tend to be toxic.

Are there precautions to take when stripping furniture?

Because lead-based paint and chemical furniture strippers can be toxic, be sure to follow these precautions:

  • Ensure that there is proper ventilation before using any chemical stripper or when stripping furniture that may be painted with lead-based paint. Toxic fumes can be released by paint chips or chemical strippers.
  • Wear gloves, a respirator, goggles, long sleeves, and long pants to prevent skin exposure to toxic materials.
  • Do not strip furniture or use furniture stripping chemicals around or near a heat source or open flame.
  • Keep children and pets away from your work area. Exposure to chemical strippers, lead-based paint, or fumes can be harmful.
  • Discard waste properly, including newspapers or tarps, used tape, and empty chemical stripper bottles. Dampening dried paint chips before moving them can minimize any toxic fumes they may release into the air.

What are the steps for stripping furniture?

Regardless of whether you use a heat gun or chemical stripper, these are the basic steps:

  1. Prepare the work area. This includes proper ventilation and other safety precautions.
  2. Soften the furniture's paint or finish by using a paint stripping heat gun or by applying a chemical furniture stripper according to the manufacturer's recommendations. It's best to work in small areas rather than trying to strip the entire piece of furniture at once.
  3. Scrape off the softened paint or finish using a putty knife. Regular knives, screwdrivers, and other tools can scratch the furniture's surface, so avoid using them.
  4. Reapply chemical stripper or heat gun to the next area.
  5. Repeat step 3 until all paint or finish is removed.


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