I purchased this piece of furniture a few weeks ago off of an antique store porch (you know, the junk section.) It was $39, which was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but I loved this table and it was coming home with me! The table was fine as it was, but the faux finish made it look dirty and it was not living up to it’s potential. So, here was my plan…strip the top, finish it in a dark walnut, paint the legs white, and then add some painted details. Here’s the problem with my plan…I hate stripping furniture. I tried it years ago (a few times) and every time I ended up throwing the thing I was stripping into the trash. It’s a messy, smelly, time consuming process. But, I think this table deserves it..so, let’s give it a go. Maybe it’s not as bad as I remember it. (Famous last words…) By the way, I have the same plan for my French Provincial reproduction dining room set that I found on Craig’s List.
Furniture Stripping Tutorial
I don’t like using oil based products or highly toxic chemicals that you have to “dispose of properly.” I only work with oil based products when I’m using spray paint or doing floors. So, I was pleased to find a water-based paint stripper. I was a little skeptical, but willing to give it a try. I purchased this bottle at Wal-Mart for about $8.00.
For this project you’ll need a plastic cup to pour the stripping gel into, latex gloves, eye protection, a chip brush (shown 2 photos down), a 3M heavy duty stripping sponge, a putty knife, a 3M sanding sponge and a rag. You’ll also want to put a plastic sheet under the piece you’re stripping and something to put the removed paint & goop into. I used a plastic paint tray liner.
1.) Liberally apply the gel using a chip brush. Make sure your hands and eyes are protected while working with any paint remover. It’s also a good idea to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated area.
3.) Now use the putty knife to scrape off the paint. I used the edge of the putty knife and the 3M Stripping Pad for the sides. This was the painful & time consuming part of it. As you can see, it only pulls off the top layer of paint, so this is going to take me a while.
Here are what the lifted paint looks like. I just swept them with the putty knife into my plastic paint tray liner.
4.) Repeat. As many time as it takes. For me, it took 5 times to get all of the layers of paint off. This is the part when I clearly remembered why I don’t like stripping furniture.
Here’s a lovely cream layer of paint…
I had a few phone calls and left one layer of stripper sit for about 20-30 minutes. I think I should have done that in the beginning. Look at how well the paint is bubbling up.
5.) With a damp rag, wipe away any residual stripping gel and paint. I the case of my table, I had to do one extra step. There was still some paint in the nooks & crannies of the table edge, so I used a 1/8 inch chisel and a sanding sponge to carefully coax the rest off. I also used a palm sander on the top to prepare the surface to stain.
And hello gorgeous wood. OK, I hated the process, but it was definitely worth it. It took me about 2 hours (including wait time when I worked on something else) and about half the bottle of paint remover.
My advice to someone who wants to strip a piece of furniture is this – make sure it’s really worth it and don’t try a piece with lots of nooks & crannies your first time.
You can find the “after” for this table here.