How to Strip Furniture the Easy Way

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a beautiful vintage dresser in immaculate condition for less than $100.  

That’s where I found the beauty below and was thrilled when I saw they reduced the price to only 75 bucks.

I wasn’t a fan of the brown paint and knew it would take stripping the paint to get it gone.  

So, in this blog, I’ll walk you through step by step how to strip furniture the easy way.

Woman standing with vintage brown painted dresser

Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture 

Stripping paint from wood furniture doesn’t have to be super daunting or complex.  All it takes is the right tools (and patience helps — an area I lack in. lol).

Once the paint has been stripped off the furniture, you are free to do whatever you wish with it. 

Going into this project, I wanted more of a raw wood look.  However, as many of my projects go, I changed my vision about halfway through. 

Read on for all the details…

Paint Stripping Materials List

Step 1: Generously apply the paint stripping get to the surface 

Make sure you are starting with a clean surface.  Wipe away and dust, debris, etc…

I’ve found more is better when using paint stripping gels. Flat surfaces tend to be easier than surfaces with a lot of detail….but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The directions say to pour the gel into a metal bowl and apply the gel with a paint brush.  If you are new to this process, I recommend doing this.

Since I am comfortable using these types of products, I just poured it directly onto the flat surface and spread it around with the plastic putty knife.

Step 2: Scrape the paint using the plastic putty knife 

The gel will start “bubbling” and “cracking” as the product starts to work. 

Wait at least 15 minutes (or as directed) then, using the plastic putty knife, try scraping away the paint.  

The paint should come off fairly easy.  If you’re having to “force” much of the scraping, it may mean you didn’t use enough gel. If this happens, apply a generous layer of gel and do the process over again.

In my case, I probably used too much gel, and as a result, some went wasted.  I can tell because there was some “pooling” of gel on top of what had already been bubbling and cracking.

But there was no harm to the piece because of the extra gel.  Just a bit of wasted product. 

You may not get all the paint off on the first try. I did not get all the paint off on the first try, so I simply scraped off what I could then added more gel and did the process all over again.

Tip on Stripping Paint on Wood Furniture with Detail

If you have a piece with a lot of detail and/curves (ie: not just a flat surface), try applying the gel then wrap it in plastic wrap.  

This helps the gel work into all those details and it can make for easier removal.

Using an abrasive paint stripping sponge or rough bristle paint stripping brush helps a ton when it comes to removing the paint. 

Step 3: Sand any Residual Paint 

Using higher grit sandpaper and an electric sander, sand away any leftover paint that may still exist.

You usually don’t need to use a lower grit (ie: 60, 80, etc..) since this is just to touch up any paint that may have been left behind. 

Step 4: Clean the Raw Wood with Mineral Spirits 

By this point, the wood should be looking pretty fresh and ready to go.  I still like to give it a nice overall clean off using Mineral Spirits or a DIY solution of equal parts vinegar and water.

Step 5: Apply the New Finish and Protect the Surface 

Even though I ended up keeping those beautiful green chippy layers on the front of the dresser (check out the full story in my Instagram highlights), I still applied Varathane’s Early American wood stain all over the piece, including the areas that had the chippy green paint. 

Once the stain was dry, I used our Protective Finish clear coat to protect the new finish.   I applied a total of two coats on the top and one coat on everything else. 

And there you have it!  A beautiful newly transformed dresser at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one!

Have a question or tip about stripping paint from wood furniture?  Leave it in the comments below!

XOXO,

Krista 

 

We were featured in Redfin’s recent article: “Reupholstering and Refinishing Old Furniture:10 Helpful Tips From the Experts”.  Check it out here.

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