Stripping paint or stain off an old piece of furniture can seem daunting. It is a bit of a messy job, but it’s not too difficult though. This post will walk you through step-by-step of how to strip furniture and then how to restain the wood – or paint it if that’s the route you want to go.
I knew there would come a day when I would want to strip the paint off a piece I had so meticulously painted.
I didn’t know that day would come so soon.
Don’t get me wrong.
I still love my boldly colored painted pieces. But…
After the black and white gallery wall in the living room was completed, I knew the finishing touch would be to make the red buffet stained once more…
When I announced to Grunt Labor that I was stripping the buffet, he nearly fell out of his seat. He – A. couldn’t believe that I wasn’t just painting it a different color and B. couldn’t believe I would actually be able to get off the multiple coats of paint that were on this piece.
Never doubt a woman.
Never, ever, ever.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
When this buffet first came into my possession, it was in its original stain job. It was part of a dining room set that belonged to my great aunt and then my father and now me. When we moved into the beloved foreclosure, I opted to paint it a blue color – almost periwinkle.
At the time, I loved that color. Also, at the time, I had no clue really what my decorating style was.
The buffet eventually got painted red…
The red was bold. I loved it. But then the black and white gallery wall happened and I didn’t want the buffet to take away from the wall.
So here we are now:
And here is how we got there…
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How to Strip Paint or Stain off Furniture
(with less mess!)
What You Need:
- Heat Gun – This makes stripping furniture so much easier with much less mess. I used my HomeRight Heat Gun.
- Metal Scrapers – Mine came with my heat gun.
- Sander – You will have to do a bit of sanding after the stripping to smooth everything up. I highly suggest using a power sander. I used my Dewalt Sheet Sander. If you aren’t familiar with using power sanders, I’ve got a How To on them here.
- Wood Stain
- Lint Free Rags (Optional – I prefer to use them when applying stain.)
- Topcoat (I would go with either a Polyurethane or Polycrylic.)
- High Quality Paintbrush
- Breathing Mask
Step 1 – Stripping Paint From Wood:
The first thing you want to do is move the piece you are stripping to a location that can get messy and is well ventilated. I do this kind of stuff in my garage. Remove all doors and drawers and take off any hardware. Plug in your heat gun.
I turned the fan speed up to 2, and the temperature to high.
You may not need to turn the heat up that high for your piece. I knew that I had two different paint colors with multiple coats of each, so I would need a lot of heat to power through it.
Put on your breathing mask – you don’t want to inhale the fumes.
Now, get a metal scraper. Place the nozzle of your heat gun on your furniture, with the scraper just behind it.
Slowly, but constantly move both the heat gun and scraper at the same time. Your paint should come off like butta’. In the photo above, you can see a few little remnants of paint – that’s ok, it will sand right off in the end.
Be sure to not leave your nozzle in one place for too long – this can cause you to burn your wood.
Step 2 – Removing Paint From the Nooks & Crannies:
Stripping the flat edges on furniture is pretty easy, it just takes some time. The nooks and crannies are a bit more complicated. For those, instead of a flat metal scraper, you need one with more points. I used the triangle one that was included with my heat gun.
Use it exactly the same way you did with the flat scraper. Place the nozzle of the heat gun right in front of your scraper and move them both at the same time slowly, but constantly.
Step 3 – Sanding Paint Remnants
This is what one of the doors looked like after I had stripped the paint off with the heat gun:
To get rid of those remnants of paint, sand your piece with a medium grit sandpaper. It will come right off. You will probably have to do a little hand sanding in the nooks and crannies. Here’s what it looks like after sanding:
Notice the little dark spots in some of the nooks and crannies. That’s ok – you won’t really see them once the new stain is on. There were a couple spots that I sanded too much and the stain didn’t adhere there as it did on the rest of the piece. You’ll see that in a minute.
Step 4 – Clean the piece
Wipe down the piece with a wet rag and then go back over it with a tack cloth to pick up any extra bits of dust.
How to Restain Wood
Step 5 – Restain the Wood
I prefer to stain with a lint-free cloth, instead of a paintbrush. Just open up your stain, dip your cloth inside (don’t need much at all), and wipe the stain onto the furniture.
Work in small sections. Go back over the area with a clean cloth after a minute or two to pick up any excess stain.
Step 6 – Protect it.
While I haven’t done this yet (I know – I’m so bad), you need to protect your piece. You can do this by giving it a coat of polyurethane or polycrylic with a good quality paintbrush.
Here’s a closeup of the piece now. Its looks lighter than what it really is, as the sun was shining right on it at this time.
It took a while, but stripping and refinishing this piece of furniture was so worth it.
It works perfectly by lending a vintage / rustic feel to the very modern wall.
You can see a couple of small spots on the top and bottom edges of the small drawer where I sanded too much. Be careful not to repeat that mistake. 🙂
Have you ever stripped and restained furniture before?
Looking for more staining and stripping tips?
How to Refinish Wood Furniture & Cover Stains without Sanding or Stripping – a great way to update stained furniture if it’s not in too bad of a condition.
How to Use a Heat Gun and 15 Things to Do With It – more things that you can tackle with a heat gun.
Why your paint is peeling and how to stop it! – Peeling paint on a furniture makeover? This post will walk you through what might be happening and how to fix it.
You know you don’t wanna miss any of this crazy.
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