Considerations Before Stripping the Finish

By Karl

Things To Take Into Consideration Before Stripping the Finish off Old Furniture

Have you thought about what to take into consideration before stripping the finish off a piece of furniture? If it is your first time completing this type of job, you must prepare yourself for a messy project. There is almost no possibility of removing furniture finish in a neat and orderly manner, but stripping the finish can be accomplished faster and more efficiently if the right tools and materials are used.

Before moving forward with furniture stripping take a moment to evaluate the furniture and make sure it actually needs to be stripped. In some cases when there is just minor damage to the existing finish it is not necessary to re-do the entire piece. Minor problems can be fixed and sometimes a new layer of finish or paint can be added on top of the old finish as long as it is in decent condition. Also, some antique furniture will lose its value if the original finish is removed – so make sure to check with a reputable antique appraiser if you think you have a piece of old furniture that may be work a considerable amount of money.

Following are some points to take into consideration before stripping the finish off a piece of furniture:

  • You will want to work in an area that is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimal location for furniture stripping is outdoors because of the fresh air. The best outdoor space to use is either under a tree or under some sort of shelter because direct sunlight can affect how well furniture stripper will work.
  • If you must work indoors, it is absolutely essential that the room in which the furniture stripping process will take place is well ventilated with windows and a fan. The fumes created by stripping chemicals can be hazardous to your health. If the room is not well ventilated you should consider wearing a respirator while exposed to the chemicals.
  • In order to allow the furniture stripper to reach all nooks and crannies and to avoid damaging the furniture’s hardware, make sure to remove all knobs, drawer pulls, and all of the furniture’s accessories before applying stripping chemicals. If knobs and decorations cannot be easily removed make sure to cover them with tape which will provide a bit of protection.
  • Do not begin the furniture stripping process before having the correct safety equipment and materials available. Examples of what is needed are: rubber gloves, eye goggles, a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and shoes. Make sure all of the clothing and shoes you use are old because they will likely get ruined and need to be thrown away.
  • There are a few different methods that can be used for stripping finish, but the recommended method for small pieces of furniture is a chemical stripper. There are several different types of chemical strippers and the choice of which type to use will depend on the specific finish that you are going to eliminate. All types of chemical strippers work at different speeds and have varying safety ratings. Therefore it is extremely important to thoroughly read the label on any container of furniture stripper that you use. Each type will have its own instructions for mixing, applying and removing.
  • After you complete your furniture stripping project, the next step involves cleaning up. It is not ok to wash any type of furniture stripping chemicals down the drain and it is also not acceptable to use an outdoor hose to wash the chemicals into the ground or the sewer. Burying the waste in your backyard is also a big no-no because the chemicals will eventually seep into the ground and contaminate the soil. The chemicals that make up furniture stripper are environmental hazards and the solution must be disposed of properly. The most responsible thing to do is to call the company that regularly picks up your trash and ask them if they will collect the waste. They may instruct you to seal the waste into a metal container or they may provide you with other disposal instructions.


There is a lot to taken into consideration before stripping the finish off a piece of furniture. However, if furniture stripper is used according to instructions and if the proper safety precautions are taken, the process can be accomplished with relative ease.

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