How to Strip Paint on Large, Detailed Furniture

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Stripping paint off of a large and detailed piece of furniture is a lot of work, more than I anticipated. I found some tutorials that helped but it was also a lot of trial and error.

It took about four months for the whole process but I love it now. Since it was a learning process, I wanted to share some tips to help you if you want to strip paint from a large and intricate furniture piece.

1. Take it a part as much as possible

My first tip is to take the piece of furniture a part as much as you can. Doors, legs, hardware, etc. You are going to want to work in sections and this will make it easier plus you will be able maneuver the large piece easier.

2. Apply the paint stripper in sections

First get your stripper, I tried both Citristrip and the liquid kind but I like Citristrip the most.

I applied the Citristrip to the entire piece, but wish I would have worked in sections. I found that with the piece of furniture being so large, the stripper dried out before I could get to scrapping it off some areas.

I advise you to apply the Citristrip one side at a time. Apply according to the directions, then cover in plastic wrap (saran wrap) and let sit over night.

This will keep the moisture in and allow it to work better especially if there are multiple layers of paint to remove.

3. Remove the paint

After you have let it sit over night, it is time to remove the paint.

You just need a plastic putty knife to scrape off the paint, it should come off pretty easily.

I also suggest gloves and some kind of container to wipe off the old paint when you scrape it off (I used a plastic container a salad kit came in so that I could throw it away when I’m done).

Don’t expect 100% of the paint to come off. It won’t. So just scrape until only the tough to get spots are left.

4. Scrub with paint stripper after wash

Here is where some trial and error came into play and what I wish I would have known.

Take paint stripper after wash and dip a toothbrush in it. Scrub the area that has stubborn paint or residue with the paint stripper after wash then wipe away with a paper towel.

You can also try to scrape it off again after scrubbing, as the paint stripper after wash will have softened the paint.

Repeat until the area is clean, or it stops working. If the paint stripper after wash didn’t 100% get the spot we move on to the next step.

5. Sand

Now it is time to sand. For big areas you can use an electric sander if you have one. You’ll probably have to manually sand around small details or grooves.

This step is to get off remaining paint as well as to smooth and prime the piece to paint. For the areas with paint you may need a medium grit sandpaper where as on the already cleaned areas you can use fine grit.

If you are still having trouble getting paint off, try repeating step 4 above then sanding after as well. Doing this a few times should help.

Remember if you are planning to paint the piece of furniture, you don’t have to remove 100% of the paint, you just need a smooth surface.

So if you’ve given it your all but there is still paint, just make sure it is smooth enough to paint over and move on.

6. Clean

Next clean the furniture and make sure there is no dust from the sanding and start painting.

7. Paint

I already have an entire post on painting furniture, but I’ll run through the steps again here quickly.

I prefer to use foam rollers to paint as I think it gives the smoothest finish. I use a foam brush for the smaller hard to reach areas.

For the cabinet I used Heirloom Traditions Paint in Cashmere. I love this paint it is easy to use and has a smooth finish.

You will probably need 2-3 coats of paint, depending on the color.

If you have hardware you want to freshen up a little bit, I love using Rub n Buff, especially the gold leaf color which is what I used for the china cabinet. You just brush it on using a paint brush or a foam brush. A little goes a long way and it is the best looking metallic paint I’ve found.

And that is how you remove paint from furniture!

It sounds a lot easier than it is, but once you get the hang of it it gets easier.

Mine took so long because of the size of the piece plus the fact that there was five layers of paint to remove.

What do you plan on stripping and repainting?

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