How to Strip a Piece of Furniture? Follow These Tricks

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Restoring wooden furniture is not an easy task; Many times, when observing the worn surface of said piece of furniture, we realize that painting it again would not really allow us to regain its beauty. In these cases, it is best to learn how to strip it, since it is the only process capable of giving life to that piece of furniture that you think has no solution. If you do not know how to strip a piece of furniture, do not miss the explanation. Take note of this simple step by step!

How to strip a piece of furniture?

Whether you are wondering how to strip a vintage-style piece of furniture or whether it is a really old piece, you should start by analyzing the piece of furniture and getting to know its details better in order to offer you the best possible renovation. In this step, you should remove the handles of the furniture if you think that they can hinder you and check if the furniture you want to recover has a wax or varnish finish.

To make this diagnosis, you will have to rub a small part of the furniture with a cotton swab dipped in burning alcohol. If the cotton changes color immediately, it means it is waxed; If, on the contrary, it only shows a little embedded dirt from the cabinet, it means that it is varnished.

Depending on whether the furniture is waxed or varnished, it will be better to use one product or another. If it is waxed furniture, it will be enough to rub it with a deicer, while if the finish is varnish or paint, you will need a chemical stripper.

How to strip a piece of furniture

Strip a cabinet with chemicals

You already know that your furniture is varnished and that the surface looks old and worn, so the time has come to discover how to strip a piece of furniture at home. The first option we offer you is to use chemical products; It is a fast and effective process that requires some protection on your part since they are very aggressive products. So, get a stripper (preferably gel so that it does not drip) and use gloves, glasses and a mask.

  • Pour the product into a bowl for more comfort and use a nylon brush.
  • Apply a generous coat over the entire surface of the furniture.
  • Let the product work for about 20 minutes.
  • With a spatula, start scraping the furniture to remove the most superficial layer of the varnish. Do not use too much force, as you could damage the surface.
  • This option is ideal for those who wonder how to strip a dark piece of furniture or a piece of lighter wood since this product carries all kinds of finishes.

Strip a piece of furniture with sandpaper and knife

It is a more tired and slower option, but if you do not have chemicals on hand, you may be more interested in this process. To work comfortably, sit in an open and ventilated space and place the newspaper on the floor to later pick up without problems.

  • You will need a round knife and extra-fine sandpaper (number 1000 0 1500, to achieve a vintage finish without damaging the base paint).
  • With the knife, scrape with gentle movements, damaging only the surface paint, without damaging the wood. When you notice you have reached the base coat (dark color), stop.
  • Then carefully sand the edges, corners, and handles of the cabinet. The idea is to wear away the surface layer of the areas where furniture deteriorates more easily.
  • When you reach the desired level of wear, clean the surface with a damp cloth.

Strip a piece of furniture with an orbital sander

If you are interested in other alternatives to learn how to strip a piece of furniture, an orbital sander is fantastic to save time. With it, you can get rid of irregularities in the wood with a higher level of professionalism since the orbital sander is a specialist in polishing finishes.

To sand with this appliance, you must read the instructions for use in detail. It is also essential to operate this device in open and ventilated spaces, preferably outdoors. Then follow these easy steps:

  • The orbital sander allows you to use disposable sandpaper discs. Use fine or medium sandpaper discs to avoid mistreating the wood.
  • Firmly hold the sander by the handle and secure it (without pressing it firmly) to the surface of the cabinet before turning it on. In this way, you will achieve uniform sanding with each pass.
  • Start sanding at low power, making diagonal movements with the sanding discs over the widest areas of the cabinet.
  • Do not tilt the sander, as you could mark unwanted circles on the wood.
  • Continuously and firmly review each sanded area to avoid leaving circular marks.
  • When sanding corners, edges, corners and legs, keep a distance of one body from the furniture to avoid mistreating the wood.

Strip a piece of furniture with a hot air gun

The hot air gun allows a piece of furniture to melt the paint to strip it. However, it is a solvent method that must be applied with great care, since high temperatures can damage the wood. Please note that this method only works on furniture covered by thick layers of paint or varnish. In a style cabinet, the hot air gun would only spoil the wood.

  • Position yourself one body away from the surface and aim firmly at the area you want to strip, setting the gun at the lowest power.
  • Press the hot air pistol with one hand and, with the other, go removing the paint with a spatula, making gentle movements.
  • Use the gun only in the widest areas of the cabinet, since regulating the heat in corners, edges and legs will be much more difficult (you would increase the risk of burning the wood).
  • Spray with the gun only until part of the paint is dissolved, otherwise you would burn the surface.
  • Remember this option is only valid if you wonder how to strip a varnished piece of furniture with thick layers that are difficult to drag.

Polish the cabinet and prepare it for finishing

Once you finish peeling the furniture, it is necessary to clean the surface to finish removing all the remains of varnish and dust. For this, you will only need cotton thread soaked in alcohol, a perfect product to neutralize wood.

On the other hand, the primer process is essential to prepare the wood before painting it. This technique consists of applying a fixative on the surface of the wood so that, when painting, the paint adheres better to the furniture. This is how you should prime if you are wondering how to professionally strip wooden furniture:

  • Before starting, put on latex gloves to protect your hands.
  • You will need to use a primer-sealer glue, so read the package instructions carefully before applying the product.
  • If you prefer, you can also use a homemade sealer prepared with water and white woodworking glue. You only have to mix the solutions in equal parts in a glass container, preparing a number of milliliters according to the size of the surface to be primed.
  • Apply the sealer with a brush or roller on the wood, spreading the mixture carefully and without leaving lumps on the surface.
  • Let the wood sit until the sealer dries completely.
  • Using fine-grit sponge sandpaper, clean the wood to remove any build-up of sealant. Then go over with extra fine steel wool to get the surface ready.

If you prefer to varnish your furniture, you only have to find the shade you prefer (depending on the one you choose, the wood will change more or less color).

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