Um, with the lights OFF.
OK, sorry, but the joke had to be made, didn’t it?
Welcome to another installation of the How Do I Series. I am going to start by saying this will be relatively short, since stripping furniture is something that I rarely do. Typically, I sand my pieces well enough for primer and paint. However, there are certain circumstances that require stripping vs. sanding. For example, I recently painted the base of a sideboard but wanted the top to stay wood finished. The stain on the top was fine, but it had scratches and some general wear to the finish. I didn’t want to sand it because I wanted the color of the stain to stay, so I stripped off the varnish instead. Anyhow, let’s get on with it, shall we?
First and foremost, before you even start stripping your piece, remember SAFETY. Wear stripping gloves, a mask, and goggles, and work in a well ventilated area. And when stripping old paint, always check first for lead with a lead kit which can be purchased at a hardware store.
There are literally only 2 actual stripping products that I use.
1. Citristrip Stripping Gel: This Stuff rocks! The best thing about this product is that it is eco-friendly and safe to use indoors. You will still want to take the above safety precautions though. I have used Citristrip to strip paint as well as poly and varnish. I use a wide brush to brush it on somewhat heavily, and then let it sit for a few hours. Then I use a scraper, to scrape the paint or finish off. (I will talk about all the tools after the actual agents). After the piece is stripped, I use odorless mineral spirits, as suggested on the container, to clean any residue. Citristrip is a gel and will leave residue, so this is a very important step. Not only will it leave a residue, but it also has a very strong odor- nothing offensive. It just smells like oranges. Guests often think my entire home has been cleaned with Orange-Glo, that is until they look around and realize that it hasn’t been cleaned. Period.
2. Formby’s Furniture Refinisher: This product is also fabulous for stripping paint. It actually works much quicker and more efficiently than the Citristrip, but not tons better, and it is definitely more toxic. I do keep this on hand for those tough spots that Citristrip can’t help, so I rarely use it on an entire piece, but more so as a final step to help finish cleaning the piece up.
That’s really all I use when it comes to stripping in the way of “strippers”. I always love using eco-friendly products, and am so happy that Citristrip is a part of my life!
There are several tools that I use when stripping furniture.
1. Scrapers: I have a couple different scrapers. One is wide and flat and is great to use on larger surfaces such as drawer fronts, table tops. It looks like this:
The other scraper I have has a stranger shape to it, and it helps with getting into all the details such as carvings, edges, bevelling, fluting. It looks like this:
I would show you my actual tools, but they are so grimy from use! They’re just gross.
2. Wire brushes: These tools are great for also getting into those finely carved and intricate areas of a piece of furniture. I also use them to clean rust off hardware. They come in different sizes, but the ones I use are almost tooth-brush size and look like this:
3. Steel Wool: Steel wool is also fabulous for stripping paint off edges and obscure places. I start with a coarser steel wool to really get around all those edges. Once most of the paint is off, I switch to very fine in either 00 or 0000 so that the finished product will feel supersmooth.
That’s it folks. That is everything that I use and how I use it when stripping furniture. Feel free to contact me with any questions! I hope this helps you! And if this post was a little jumpy, I apologize- I have started coming down with a headcold, sore throat, and am praying Zicam will nab it before the weekend!