Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Using Paint Stripper to Prep Finished Wooden Furniture

Hello again, finally. 

It has been one week since we have been in our new house, and it has been hectic. We have been trying to get the house into a livable state and organize our considerably large amount of belongings into our slightly smaller home. 

Basil is enjoying himself, as usual 

One thing I have been determined to finish this week, was prepping my side tables for our bedroom to be stripped so I can paint them. The person who owned them before me was probably a DIY-er as well, but I can't say much for her taste. 

I've never really been into distressed looks. I think one or two pieces per home is okay, but not every piece or an entire wall of cabinets. I also don't like jet black glaze on white or light colored surfaces, it just makes it seem dirty to me. Call me old fashioned, but I like things looking new and crisp. Maybe as I get older my tastes will change, we'll see. 


These particular tables aren't too bad, but they don't really fit in with our home. Or, not my vision of our home at least. I would just sand them down, but I'm assuming it was primed, there is at least a few coats of paint, a coat of glaze, and some kind of clear coat on it. I would have went through dozens of sanding pads. 

What I used at first 
I decided to try my hand at paint stripping. I'm always a little nervous about using chemicals, and I don't really like to do it. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to dangerous stuff. The first can of paint stripper I got was a kind that came with a spray bottle, I figured I would make this as easy on myself as possible. 
Before I began

I sprayed as much of the surface of my table as I could with the spray bottle, I waited 15 minutes, and started scraping. 

I was surprised to find it was extremely difficult work. I mentioned this to my husband, and he said "Maybe you didn't use enough". So of course I took the can and just dumped it on top
 of the table and let it sit again. 
That was more like it 
Unfortunately the spray bottle was pracitcally useless. My hand was dead from repeatedly spraying the thick sludge onto the table, and after all that, it wasn't sufficient enough for it to be effective. So, pretty much don't bother with the spray bottle. You have to lay on a thick later, but after 5 minutes it just slides right off with a paint scraper. It cut through all layers, it even scraped off the stain that was on the wood before it was primed and painted. Much better than trying to sand through all that gunk. 
Literally took 40 seconds to scrape off

We bought cleaning gloves to use with this, that was a bad choice. I noticed my hands began to feel "minty" (the only way I can describe it) and I looked down at the gloves and they were losing their color and shape. I ran in the house and had my husband pour two bottles of Dasani on my poor burnt hands (Our water was cut off due to a mix up with the water company). So that was dumb, the super chemical resistant gloves are like 8 dollars, just cough up the money if you use this kind of paint stripper. Its not worth the minty hands (also, be sure to wear a mask and chemical goggles, seriously, this stuff is potent). 

I was able to get most of the paint off, which was nice, but there were still a few nooks and crannies that I couldn't get to with my wonderful Genesis. This time, we decided to go for the less dangerous paint stripper. This Citristrip has roughly the same consistency, color, and smell as children's Motrin --that orange flavored kind. I got it on my skin, and it didn't burn a single bit. It has no fumes, and its child safe, not that I would feed it to my children if they have a fever. But, I was glad that it was safe for Basil to be around. I get nervous about him accidentally licking up something that I didn't clean very well, so this quelled my fears a bit. I figured that I would sacrifice effectiveness for safety.

I put it on, waited fifteen minutes, and shockingly, it worked just as well as the super dangerous chemically one! 

I was more than pleased with this, so I generously applied it to all the little spots the other stripper had missed.

And I didn't even wait the full half hour 

I finished scraping all the little bits off. I then wiped down both of the tables with eco-friendly paint thinner, and hosed them off. I dried them off with a couple of cheap Walmart wash cloths, and began to sand them down with my lovely Genesis. 

How I love you, little sander

When I finish, I will hose the tables down again (because at this point, I'm too lazy to just wipe out all the nooks and crannies, I know I'm terrible). And then I will dry them off. 

Not quite finished, but almost 

They are almost ready to paint. I will definitely only use the Citrustrip from now on. But, if its just a simple staining, I will probably opt to just sand it, because the stripper is easier on your arms and sander, but it is still a lot of work (and a bit more expensive). 

What color do you think these tables should be? I was thinking a grayed out turquoise color. Comment with any suggestions, show me some love! 

I hoped you enjoyed reading, until next time, 

- Christine


  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!

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