When you want to refinish and refurbish a piece of wood furniture, you'll need to strip off the old paint so you have a new surface to work with. You'll need to identify what type of paint or varnish is already on the furniture so you can pick out the right remover. After that, you'll need to prep the surface for stripping and use the right materials and tools to remove the paint completely. There really are no shortcuts for this type of DIY project, so patience is key throughout the process!
Here are some essential tips for stripping paint from wood furniture the right way:
1. Prepare your work area. Whether you're stripping the paint in the garage, the basement, or in a workshop, make sure you're covering your workspace completely with plastic or paper. Chemicals in the paint remover can be toxic, so make sure to open windows and have a fan blowing while you work.
2. Apply remover with a wide brush. You'll need a medium or large-sized, wide brush to apply thick coats of paint remover to the furniture. You'll need to 'paint' thick layers of remover onto the furniture but only to distribute the compound - don't use any back and forth motions as you apply it.
3. Work in small sections. You only want to apply the paint remover in small sections at a time so you can coat each area as thoroughly as possible. Just lay the remover onto the item and let it dry. This will make the project more manageable.
4. Cover the surface. Use a sheet of aluminum foil to cover the surface so that the remover doesn't evaporate. You'll need to leave the foil on for at least 30 minutes before you can test the area to see if the paint will come off easily. If the area has small bubbles and you can feel the wood as you touch it with some rubber gloves, the paint is ready for removal. If not, cover the surface back up with aluminum foil and wait 5 or 10 more minutes until you see the bubbles and can feel the wood underneath.
5. Remove the paint and remover. You'll need to use the right removal technique based on the type of remover you used. "Wash-away" removers can be rinsed and buffed with water and steel wool. Just hose off the furniture and brush it clean with some steel wool. Prevent water damage by drying the wood with an absorbent towel or cloth.
"Non-wash-away" removers will need to be scraped off using a scraper. Scrape off the remover and paint very carefully in long strips and use steel wool to remove any excess. This can be a somewhat messy project, so be prepared to dump the compounds into a bucket or onto the floor covered in tarp or newspaper for easy cleanup. You can then treat the wood with alcohol if the remover didn't contain any wax.