How To Scrape Paint From Furniture

This is a guide to different ways to strip paint from furniture at home. Methods and safety issues are discussed.

A fresh paint job can give any piece of wood furniture new life. Old pieces can look new again and liven up any room decor. Sometimes great pieces of furniture can be found at flea markets or garage and yard sales. With a little work, a five dollar investment can add beauty to your living space. Before painting any wood furniture you will want to remove the old paint or varnish. There are many methods you can use to do this such as using a heat gun, sander, or a chemical paint and varnish stripper.

No matter which removal method you choose there are some tips to keep in mind. Remove all hardware from the piece before you begin. If the furniture has doors, drawers, or other removable parts, remove them before you begin. Protect any areas where you do not wish paint stripper to go, such as keyholes. Be wary of using a heat gun on lead paint. The fumes can quickly become very dangerous to you. Always follow all safety suggestions and wear goggles, a breathing mask, and protective clothing. Spread newspaper or a tarp under your work area to catch the any paint or chemical that may fall as you work.

Chemical strippers are probably the most efficient and the easiest choice for paint removal. They come in many different forms such as gel, spray, or liquid. For thicker layers of paint you might want to consider using the gel or spray type of stripper. Use a liquid for removal of thinner layers. Follow the instructions on the package for application and for the time you will need to let the stripper sit on the surface. Be sure that the stripper has been applied so that it reaches into creases and crevices. When the paint is ready to remove, gently use a scrapper to lift the paint from the surface. If the paint seems resistant you need to let the chemical work longer. Be careful that you are not chipping or denting the underlying wood as you work. It is best to work in small manageable areas when using chemical strippers.



For smaller and harder to reach areas, use steel wool or a course clothe material to remove the stripper and the paint. For cracks and crevices, use a small pointed piece of scrap wood or a toothpick. When your paint is removed you may find some small areas that did not completely come clean. Dip a steel wool pad into your stripper and gently work the spot over until the paint comes free from the surface. Read the label for rinsing instructions when you are finished removing the paint. Most pieces will need to be rinsed with turpentine or paint thinner. Use the material suggested on the label for best results.

Sanding is another option for paint removal. This is good for large surface areas. Remember that when you use sandpaper to remove paint, you are also removing some of the wood itself. A belt sander is a great choice for paint removal. Use a course grain of sandpaper and change the paper often. If you are doing a large area such as a tabletop or a bookshelf, you will find this method useful. The drawback is that sandpaper cannot reach into corners well and may sand away fine details on intricate woodwork. You may have to use a chemical stripper for these areas.

Another useful method tool for paint removal is a heat gun. This is also great for large areas. Heat guns can generate heat up to a thousand degrees Fahrenheit or more. This heat will soften the paint or varnish so that it can be easily scrapped away. Work in small areas with the gun in a continual circular motion. When the paint bubbles, it is ready to be removed. Do not point the gun directly at one spot for too long or the gun will singe and burn your underlying wood surface. This method is great for thick layered paint. If you are removing thin layers, you may want to skip using the heat gun. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations for safe use of a heat gun. Be wary of using heat guns near glass because the extreme heat can cause the glass to crack or break.

When choosing an area to work in, be sure that it is open and well ventilated. Outside is the best place to work. If you can work outside be sure that you are not in direct sunlight. Sunlight may cause chemical strippers to ignite. If you choose an indoor works space, make sure there are no open flames such as pilot lights on stoves or water heaters. Always be aware of your surroundings and do not allow children or animals to come into your workspace.

If you are working on a valuable piece of furniture, or one that you suspect might be valuable, consider paying a professional to strip the paint for you. Be reasonable about your experience level and only choose materials you are comfortable using. Be sure to take your time and be thorough for a beautifully finished piece that you will be proud of for years to come.

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