Paint strip furniture the hard and the easy way


You have found that fantastic piece of wooden furniture and it was a bargain. Maybe it was something that has been in the family for a generation or more. It will look great in the hall, living room, bedroom or even outdoor entertainment area. It ticks all the boxes and you are satisfied that it will add something special and unique. Good for you!

There is just one problem… It is an awful colour or worse, a mix of colours.

With the best of intentions, you tell everybody who asks, you are going to restore it to its former glory and it will be amazing! You know that it won’t be something that you can do in an hour so you have to plan this. Several weeks and months pass by. It has collected a season of dust and cobwebs in the garage or some other space that no one can see it. Now it is time to do something about it because you have a weekend spare and this ‘little project’ has been waiting for months now.

It is time to roll up the sleeves, get all DIY, and paint strip furniture.

Off to the local hardware store to buy all the supplies you need for stripping back the years of paint and bad taste. I am not saying that painting a piece of wooden furniture is ‘bad taste’ but I am saying that over time, many years, fashions and taste change and it gets a little old.
So to paint strip furniture you will need some or all of the following:

  • paint stripper chemicals
  • paint brushes or other applicators
  • scrapers
  • sandpaper
  • gloves
  • paint stripping heat gun
  • loads of newspaper to collect waste material
  • dust or chemical masks
  • etc

How to paint strip furniture

Armed with your supplies and a well-ventilated area, as per the directions of use, it is time to start. Give the piece a sand to open up the painted surface a little and let the chemicals do their work. The first coat of chemical paint stripper goes onto the furniture and you sit back and wait. Preferably somewhere else as the work area is now a toxic zone. You should not be in the area a moment longer than you have to. You return to hopefully see wood poking through the wrinkled layer of paint. Instead, you see more paint of the same colour or perhaps another coat of paint in some other shade of pale pink, green or blue.

Scrape off what you can and apply another layer of paint stripper to your furniture. Maybe this time, you will see the grain? Maybe not. However many layers and coats of paint stripper it takes, the hardest part is near the end. You can see the original wood but it comes with plenty of, hard to remove, painted bits over the surface.

The little nooks and crannies in your furniture can make paint removal very difficult, almost impossible. So to get to a surface that is pure woodgrain and no bits is the most time-consuming part of the job. A few old toothbrushes to scrub the paint after the paint stripper has been working on it for a few minutes can help. Please wear eye protection if you are going to scrub paint stripper. One small splash of that stuff in your eye can be disastrous. Many more hours of work and waiting are required to get the last bits off the furniture. In all, you can spend days and days working on a single piece.

The distressed look

I am convinced that one day someone was almost finished paint-stripping furniture when they finally gave up. Trying to justify their lack of enthusiasm or the fact that it was just drained out of them, they coined a phrase. ‘The Distressed Look’. Almost an industry was born and today many people opt out of hard work and the ultimate goal of restoration for something that is halfway.

I have done this myself and tried to emulate the distressed look with mixed success. So I know what it feels like to go through the whole process, but no more!

  • Today I have access to something that can reveal all the layers of history that covered a once beautiful piece of timber.
  • Today I can paint strip furniture in seconds, revealing the original wood underneath.
  • And today I can offer you access to the same technology to achieve the same results for yourself.

It works so well that I don’t even think about whether it is worth stripping the paint or not. I just do it and then deal with the result. If the furniture is just a mismatch of wood and grains underneath then I may well just paint it again. At least I know for sure.

The alternative to paint striping furniture

Wet abrasive blasting will get a better result in a fraction of the time. By regulating the pressures and the grade of media used, we are able to customise the blast zone for each application.

Just know that abrasive blasting wood can etch the timber grain and if you want to re-polish or paint the surface then this may not be the solution for you. If you would like to have a piece of furniture that looks aged and has a unique texture, check out this article that discusses the artistry of blasting woodgrain

While this process is best suited for hardwood furniture, we can tailor the blast zone to tackle almost any timber. We test the blast on inconspicuous areas of the furniture (underneath or backs of drawers) before commencing any job. This is how we adjust our blast zone and also show you the results you can expect.

Contact us to chat about the blasting alternative.

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