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How to Strip Old Finish From Wood

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

Stripping materials
So you have found that perfect piece of antique furniture or you have retrieved something that you had in storage. The only problem is the finish is old and cracked, faded, or just looks bad in general. Age and the heat from non temperature controlled storage can ruin a finish. Stripping the finish from furniture is not that difficult with the strippers that are available today. Wood finish stripping chemicals come in brush on liquids and gels and in easy to use spray applications. Here I give instructions on using the spray on type to remove the finish from wood furniture.

Things You Will Need

Sprayable stripper, Protective gloves, Eye protection, Paint scraper or plastic stripping tool, Spray bottle, toothbrush, toothpick or stripping brush, Abrasive pad, After Wash or Odorless Mineral Spirits

Step 1

Area Protection

Shake the can well and open slowly to relieve pressure. Next pour the stripper into the sprayer bottle and tighten the sprayer to the bottle. Use drop cloths to protect the flooring under the work piece. When using strippers, I like to use a cloth drop cloth with a plastic liner underneath. The cloth absorbs any spills so you won't track it if you step in it and the plastic keeps it from soaking through to the floor.

Step 2

With bottle in upright position, turn spray nozzle away from you and adjust nozzle to desired spray pattern (spray, stream, or fan).

Step 3

Spraying Stripper

Apply an even liberal coat of the stripper to a small area (up to 9 sq ft.)

Step 4


After 15 minutes, test scrape a small area to see if the finish is ready for removal. Remove loosened finish by gently scraping in direction of wood grain with a plastic striping tool or paint scraper. A toothbrush, toothpick or stripping brush will help remove the old finish buried in recesses. Multiple coats of stubborn finishes may require repeat applications.

Step 5

Klean Strip Mineral Spirits

Use a clean abrasive pad dipped in After Wash or Odorless Mineral Spirits to loosen remaining finish and remove any residue.

Step 6

Pour any remaining stripper in the spray bottle back into can. Clean the spray bottle in warm water. Immerse the sprayer in warm water and while the holding the sprayer under the water, pump the spray nozzle for 30 seconds.

Step 7

Minwax Stain and Polyurethane

You can now leave the wood in a natural finish, stain, or paint it with whatever color you would like using a paint or stain. Note: if the wood has a stain, you will only be able to use the same or darker stain on it. Strippers only remove the top finish and do not get down into the grain of the wood to remove old stain. However, if you want to paint the piece, you can use any color to cover the wood.

Stripping the finish from furniture is not that difficult with the strippers that are available today. Give it a try and you may surprise yourself on how well you can restore old furniture.

Tips & Warnings

Disposal: Take outdoors and allow liquid to evaporate and residue to dry. Then dispose of in metal container in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Whenever working with harsh chemicals, always wear chemical resistant gloves and chemical splash goggles.



Jun 22, 2010 8:48am
Great instructions for stripping the finish from wood
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