Furniture Stripping Safety
There Are Many Safety Precautions to Follow When Stripping the Finish off Furniture
Safety is a top concern when using furniture strippers. The chemicals in strippers are dangerous and can lead to health conditions if they are not used properly. However, they can be used safely if the appropriate precautions are followed.
The most common health issue associated with furniture stripper is irritation of the skin and eyes. But other common side effects that are associated with inhaling the fumes emitted from furniture stripper are headaches, dizziness and feeling sick to the stomach. In the worst case scenario long-term exposure to the chemicals in furniture strippers can cause different types of cancer and even damage to the body’s vital organs. Besides posing a risk to the body, furniture strippers are also notoriously flammable and can inadvertently cause fires.
There are several varieties of furniture strippers and each is intended for use on different types of finishes. While some are more potentially hazardous than others there are none that are completely benign. The best bet is to follow a few general precautions so that the threat of health or other safety issues can be minimized.
General Safety Guidelines:
Read the Instructions: Never use a furniture stripping product without carefully reading the label on the outside of the container. Instructions were put there for a reason! Each product on the market is unique and each has its own set of directions. Make sure to follow the product’s instructions even if you have used furniture stripper in the past and feel like you know what you are doing. Always remember that every brand and every type of furniture stripper is made of a different combination of chemical components.
Wear Protective Gear: Always wear the correct protective gear when using furniture stripper. The safety of your skin, eyes, lungs and entire body is at risk when you use stripper and the only way to protect yourself is to cover your hands with chemical-resistant rubber gloves, your eyes with goggles, and your arms, legs and feet with a long sleeve shirt, long pants and shoes. If you are not working in a well ventilated area, a respirator should be worn to prevent damage to your lungs.
Work Outside: If it is a nice day and between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you should consider completing your stripping project outdoors. If an outdoor workspace is out of the question, the indoor area you use must provide ample air ventilation.
Don’t Let it Catch on Fire: Keep open containers of paint stripper away from any source of fire or sparks. The chemicals in the solution are extremely flammable. Additionally, keep the furniture that is being stripped away from all sources of flames – including lit cigarettes, pilot lights, space heaters, and electronics.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Close: Make sure a fire extinguisher is nearby when using furniture stripper. In the event of a fire you will want to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible.
Watch Out for Lead-Based Paint: Be cognizant of the possibility that the piece you are about to strip might contain lead-based paint. Before stripping paint that you believe may contain lead, you will want to talk with a professional. Visit your local hardware store so you can talk to someone in person about the situation or call a local furniture refinishing company to ask for their advice.
Your top priority when it comes to stripping the finish off furniture should be safety. What good is a nicely refinished piece of furniture if the chemicals you used caused you to burn your skin and/or eyes with chemicals or caused you to develop respiratory problems? When removing furniture finish the number one thing to remember is: be smart. Following safety instructions will result in a positive experience and a great-looking piece of furniture that can be used for many years to come.