Stripping Furniture 101
Disclaimer: I took all the pictures after the stripping commenced so they are all covered in paint.
This last 2 weeks while working on the traveling dresser set I learned a thing or two about stripping. I have stripped other pieces in the past but always with the intention of painting over them. Stripping with the intention of staining something is a whole different story! I learned a few tips and tricks and I thought I would share to make anyone's adventure in stripping a little easier.
For starters you will needs supplies
I would also recommend a mask and goggles not pictured above.
I have used a different stripping brand previously and I will not be going back after using Jasco. It is definitely a heavy duty stripper and is going to make it possible to expose every little bit of wood underneath the paint.
A paint brush will also be key in trying to remove paint. This brush I purchased at Lowes for about$2.00. This is one of the few times you are going to want to purchase a crummy brush. It will basically be ruined once you have used it to strip so just find something you wont be sad to throw away at the end of the process. The brush will be key in applying the gel stripper to the vertical areas of the piece that you won't be able to just pour the stripper directly on. It will also help get into all the fine detailed areas.
If you have access to a rotary sander and are working on a piece with a lot of flat surfaces it is going to be your best friend! I picked up Abrasive Film Discs P80. These are made specifically for coarse removal of paint. I didn't however want to get anything more coarse than P80 because I didn't want to scratch the antique surface of my dresser. So be aware of that when you are looking at different grits. The sander is really just to buff off the very last bits of paint. You want to let the stripping solution do the majority of the work taking off the paint not your sander.
Gloves. GLOVES GLOVES GLOVES. This is something you are not going to want to want to skimp on. You are going to want to look for gloves made specifically for harsh chemicals. I think I would have lost all the skin on my hands if it weren't for my gloves! Especially at the end when working on all the nooks and crannies of the dresser. It would also be wise to wear long sleeves and pants to protect any skin. You will be amazed at how many places other than the piece of furniture you get stripper on them. So be prepared! IT HURTS so just avoid that at all possible costs.
Steel wool. This was the most valuable thing that I bought (besides the stripper). I went through a pack and a half of steel wool on this project. It is fairly cheap and is pertinent to completely priming the surface for stain. Get more than one pack you wont be sorry!
An old bucket. Mine is a good old ice cream bucket. You are going to need some sort of disposable container to catch all of the paint as you strip if from the surface this process is messy and having some sort of container to catch it all and dump it into will be helpful.
Scrapers: I ended up getting a metal one with curved edges and a pointy edge. I also purchased the wire brush to loosen the paint out of corners and cracks. The brush I purchased ended up having a scraper at the opposite end and was actually the best scrapper for the job it really lined up nicely with the surface and pulled off the paint even better than the metal scraper go figure. I also bought this stripping sponge thing with the black handle. This was great after I had stripped off a couple layers and had a bunch of gunk on the surface it helped remove the chunks and make it easier to keep the process going and keep my steel wool from getting as clogged.
The Actual Stripping Process.
Start with a small surface a drawer or a portion of the top on your dresser. Apply a generous coat of stripper making sure the entire surface you are working on is completely saturated. From here you will need to wait 10-15 minuets or until the paint begins to bubble and blister. Don't wait too long or not long enough. If you wait to long the paint begins to dry out and it wont scrape off. If you don't wait long enough the only thing you will be scraping off is the stripping gel.
after the paint has blistered and bubbled take your scraper and scrape it off into your disposable container.
Repeat this process until you see the majority of the wood and most of the paint is gone. For the Traveling Dresser I stripped the surface 2-3 times before the majority of the paint layers were gone.
From here you will use your stripping sponge to scrub off any hunks that you may have missed with your scraper.
On all of your flat surfaces sand off the excess paint do not worry about small specs and spots those will be taken care of by the steel wool. Just focus on sanding down the surface and creating a smooth area.
use your brush to paint the stripping gel to the area you are working on then use your steel wool to buff out any of the remaining paint from the surface. This step will finish off the stripping process and you should have absolutely no paint left once you are done. This is my favorite step because it is amazing how quickly the steel wool does it job. Use a generous amount of stripping gel and switch out your steel wool when it gets clogged and is no longer doing its job. This step will finish priming your surface for stain and make sure that there is not discoloration or paint showing through underneath your stain.
That's it folks!! The key to stripping is working in small areas and not letting the area dry out before you finish it up. As it dries so does the paint making it harder to take off in the end. I hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions please ask them below!