3000 Followers Event – DIY paint removal tips

~ DIY Tip Day ~

I will NEVER profess to be an expert on this topic, so right here and now, I ask any experts in this field to come on down!

I had this cool farm table that I had painted white. But then I wanted a woodsy top. You know how it is.

Well, this was no small job. I was using my palm sander and getting nowhere fast. So I borrowed a wood planer. (thanks Default Nice Guy Dan!)

And that’s when things REALLY started to happen. LOVE the thing!! I want one. 🙂

Although the planer did a MUCH more efficient job, it was still working too hard.

So back to the hardware store I went and picked up some paint stripper. And soon found a method that worked.

 How to strip paint off a table top:

1. Remove as much paint as you can first with paint stripper

There were at least 4 coats of paint on this tabletop, so I kept using the stripper until I reached the wood. It was ALOT of work. Really consider how bad you want a large table to be wood again because knowing what I do, I’m not sure I’d do this again. The paint stripper alone ran me around $30.

2. Follow up with a wood planer

If you’re still only using your palm sander for sanding down finishes, you are missing out BIG. The wood planer does the job 20x faster and more efficient. It’s a palm sander on steroids. So… if you plan to do alot of paint stripping, put a wood planer on your shopping list.

 3. Finish with a palm sander, starting at 60 grit, 150 grit, then finally 220 grit

I canNOT believe the difference. I’ve never purchased 3 grits before but the Internet says to do that so I tried. And oh my gosh… wonderfully smooth it was!

4. Then borrow from you know who grab some wood chisels and start stripping in between the boards.

5. Enjoy your newly sanded lovely woodsy table top!

6. That didn’t even get a finishing treatment because you changed your mind and build something else instead. After all that work…

I’m almost certain there are better methods out there than what I did. So if you’ve done this before and have anything to add, please do so in comments!

By golly, let me go one step further. If you have a post that is all about HOW you stripped furniture, I invite you to link it up so we have all the reference we can muster!

Sanding tips? Removing paint methods? What method works best for you? What do we want to stay away from? 

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Categories: Junk Drawer

15 thoughts on “3000 Followers Event – DIY paint removal tips

  1. Hi Donna,
    I just happened to strip a white chest in August. I wonder if they’ll be many people out there not painting but stripping. I can’t get enough of the natural wood lately. I am getting into the ruralist look. Trying to figure out how to make a plank table. Anyway, I am from a long line of KY folk who stripped a bit of furniture. I am no expert either, just remember seeing it done a bit.
    Have a great week.

  2. Oh shucks, I wanted to be the first comment, but I had to stop and read the post first. In 1978 I had $2,000 or 3,000. That was it. My husband and I bought a huge 1920’s apartment in New York City on 60th St across from Bloomingdales. We were supposed to put 50% down in cash ($35,000) and finance the rest. We borrowed everything except the $2,000 or 3,000. So, we had no money to fix it up. Years later Marian McEvoy, the editor of Elle Decor bought the apartment, not from us and decorated it all in seashells. She included it in her book about decorating.
    Anyway, the kitchen had an old large glass doored floor to ceiling cabinet with a counter built into a corner. The cabinet was in the shape of an “L” I decided to clean it up. With Zip strip and once in a while, a propane burner, I stripped off TWENTY ONE colors of paint. That could have been over thirty coats of paint. Maybe even forty. The whole process was very satisfying. It took forever. The wood underneath was light to medium. Maybe birch or poplar. In those days, the kitchens were for the staff, so they weren’t fancy. We even had a dumb waiter.
    I have stripped many things since then, but that was the highlight of my stripping career. These days everything is so environmentally correct, who knows how many toxins I inhaled. They joined all the DDT I breathed growing up on Air Force bases where they fogged DDT every day at 4:30. Anyway, thanks for the tips. Maybe I’ll ask for a planer for my birthday. Maybe I should rent one first. Before I take my Ambien, I have to go through the house looking for my Funky Junk Pile. I have to figure out how to get the picture from the camera through the computer, to you. I guess I was affected by all the toxins. Ann

  3. Having stripped hideous 60’s faux antiquing off a colonial maple table and chairs…spindles and grooves galore…while living in an apartment…I think and rethink and think again before painting my furniture. I don’t want to cause myself or anyone else the pain of stripping wood!

  4. I haven’t stripped wood in years and after reading about all the hassle…my memory of it has returned and my favorite tip is…DON”T DO IT!! Ha!! But your tip of the wood planner is a great one. I never thought about that! And using three grits is a great tip as well. Thanks so much!!
    I know think twice before I paint and then…say what the heck and go for it!!

  5. I’ve used that same brand of stripper (Circa 1850) and I love it. My local ReStore had boxes of it for really cheap! It doesn’t smell too bad and works well.
    I find that if some paint is really stubborn it helps to use a paintbrush to swirl around the stripper and that helps the paint come off.

  6. I recently stripped a table and four chairs. It was lots of work, then about a month later, I stripped the table top again. I used polyurethane the first time, and it never fully cured. Probably not helped by 95% humidity here in NC.
    Anyway the second time I used paste wax instead.
    The only thing I’d add about stripping, is when you finish scraping as much of the paint or varnish off as you can, it helps to clean the wood off with something like denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner. The stripper tends to leave the surface sticky and gooey. You will used less sand paper if you get the gooey stuff off first and let the wood dry thoroughly.

  7. I just wanted to tell everybody about a great odor free stripper that I use. It’s called SoyGel. We once did a product test for it on Cool TOols for The Diy Network, and everybody ended up arguing over who got to take the bottles home. Someone donated a small table that had 7 layers of paint on it, we applied the gel, and within minutes, literally, it was pulling the paint up all the way down to the wood.

    No scrubbing, I swear! I’ve only used that brand since. It’s about $20 for a quart, but it goes a long way. Honest to goodness, no smell either, so I can strip things inside the house in the winter and it doesn’t bother anybody.

    Just wanted to share.

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