How to Strip Paint From Wood

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Stripping old paint from wooden furniture enables you to bring out the natural beauty of the wood underneath, either to refinish with wood stain or to repaint a fresh color. Elbow grease, good ventilation and paint thinning chemicals will help you get the job done if you follow these steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Masking tape
  • Razor blade or box cutting tool
  • Paint scraper
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Paint stripping chemical
  • Mineral spirits or paint thinner
  • Old paint brushes
  • Rags
  • Move the wood outside so you will have a ventilated area to work in. If you must work indoors, open all windows in the workspace and keep an electric fan running to circulate the air.

  • Remove all hardware from the wood to be stripped, including hinges, knobs, handles and decorative metalwork, using a screwdriver. If the hardware cannot be removed, cover it with masking tape and cut the tape with a razor blade or box cutting tool close to the edges.

  • Use the paint scraper to remove peeling and chipping paint. Take off as much paint as possible with the scraper to save time.

  • Apply paint stripper with an old paint brush in heavy strokes, moving in the same direction with each stroke to prevent smearing the old paint over the wood.

  • Allow the paint stripper to set for at least 15 minutes or the length of time recommended on the package instructions.

  • Lift away the old paint with the edge of a putty knife, wiping down the wood with rags as you work.

  • Wipe all wood surfaces with paint thinner or mineral spirits, using old rags.

  • Repeat the steps as necessary to remove all the old paint.

  • Let the wood dry at least 24 hours before refinishing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint strippers are highly flammable liquids that can combust with explosive force if exposed to an open flame or excessive heat. Keep paint removal chemicals in a cool, dark storage area, preferably outside the home in a storage shed.

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