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How to Strip Furniture with this Easy Tip

I know I just published a post showing you how I used two household items to refinish wood,  but even after I removed the scratches I still wasn’t happy with the antique desk.  I tossed around the idea of completely stripping the wood with Citristrip, but it made me tired just thinking about it. I know, that might sound silly, because I love to refinish and paint furniture. Just when I was about to give up on the idea of refinishing the desk, I got a tip from a friend on Instagram on how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture with minimal sanding. Let me tell you friends, this is a game changer.

how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture

I’ve been stripping paint from furniture for years, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite thing to do. It’s labor intensive and time consuming and takes forever to strip all the layers off of an antique piece of furniture.

Like I said earlier I was about to give up on my plans to refinish this desk due to, well, my desire for a quick fix. Let me show you what it looked like.

the desk before it was stripped

It’s a solid wood antique table with a cherry finish. I love the style of the desk, but I don’t like the red finish.

My choices to refinish the desk were simple; paint it (probably with chalk paint), apply stain over the old stain, strip it, or leave it as is.

Lately I’ve been finding it hard to paint over solid wood. I love the look of solid wood and I hate to hide solid wood with a paint color that I might not like in the future. I just didn’t want to hassle with stripping furniture.  I made up my mind that I would keep the desk as it is.

Just when I almost gave up my idea of removing the layers of stain and sealer, I got a great tip from a friend on the best way to strip furniture.

The easiest way to strip wood furniture

Y’all ready for this? She said to apply Citristrip paint stripper on the desk and then wrap it with saran wrap and leave it overnight.

Saran Wrap? Whoa, this was a new one.

I’ve been stripping polyurethane, paint and stain off of furniture for years…

Why had I not heard of this? Either way, I had to give it a try.

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Best furniture wood stripper I’ve found that makes minimal fumes with LOW VOC’s

My favorite paint stripper is Citristrip. Most paint strippers have harsh chemicals and create super strong fumes. Citristrip does not.

It comes in a gel form and a spray on (spray can). I’ve used both and they both work well. I would use the spray can for smaller jobs and the gel form for larger ones.

You can see more of the three best paint strippers on the market here. In this post I’ve detailed the pros and cons of these three.

Materials to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture:

How to strip furniture of paint, stain and sealer

  1. spray the desk with Citristrip or any other paint stripper. Make sure the desk is clean before spraying it.
  2. cover the desk with saran wrap (there isn’t an easy way to do this, just make sure the saran wrap is up against all those curves and crevices)
  3. wait at least a few hours or overnight. It is better to leave it overnight.
  4. remove the saran wrap and use your brillo pad or scraper and scrape away the residue
  5. after all the residue is removed, spray a clean brillo pad or heavy paper towel with the after wash or mineral spirits solution and wipe away any extra residue.
  6. start sanding
  7. For the hard to reach spots like the nooks and crannies of the legs, use a liquid sander or deglosser.
  8. continue sanding until you have reached your desired finish!
  9. Apply a sealer to the wood (especially if it get’s a lot of use)


Here are some images from the progress:

wrapping the furniture with saran wrap after applying the wood stripper

I sprayed it down with Citristrip and covered it with saran wrap.

After I finished stripping most of polyurethane and stain off the wood, I applied the after wash.  You can use “after wash” or mineral spirits. I think they both do practically the same thing.

sanding the wood after stripping the paint and stain off

I used the electric sander for the top of the wood and some of the flat areas.

For the legs and the drawers, this is where the liquid sander came in handy. I used a little bit on the legs of the table below to help with the hard to sand places. 

Letting the paint stripper sit overnight with the saran wrap made it easy to remove the extra stain without much effort.

how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
stripping furniture

After most of the sanding, this is a little before and after of what the desk looked like.

Before and after stripping the wood furniture

I picked up some new hardware from Ace’s Hardware. I wanted to keep with the “vintage antique” vibe.

I was happy with the transformation so far, but the red tones on the drawer and the top still bothered me.

I tried using a dark wax, a “weathered” stain, and a clear furniture wax with no luck! All these products still brought out the red tones.

After doing a little research, I decided to try to bleach the wood. This is new, I had never done this before, but I’m so glad I did.

How to bleach wood:

FYI: I used regular household bleach because I didn’t have anything else. This isn’t the best option, but it’s all I had at the time. I’ve detailed how to bleach wood in this post on staining wood with household items.

If you are planning to bleach a piece of wood or furniture I would highly suggest buying wood bleach. You can see a great product HERE.

using bleach to strip the wood

Above is the drawer before I used the bleach.

bleaching wood furniture

I dabbed a little bleach on a heavy paper towel and wiped it all over the wood on the desk. I let it dry and then repeated this process about 5 times.

After wood was bleached

You can see where the bleach has already dried on the wood, and where it is still wet.

After bleaching the areas of the wood that still had “red tones,” I sanded a little more, and then I was almost done!

Lastly, I added a sealer to the top and sides of the desk.

For those of you wanting to know how I sealed the raw wood, check out my post on how to seal furniture for high traffic. I’ve shared my favorite furniture and wood sealer with a list of other sealers too.

after the wood furniture had been stripped
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
how to strip the paint and sealer off of furniture
stripped wooden desk with bare wood
stripped wood furniture with bare wood
Stripped wood furniture- top view

Well there you have it; a total furniture transformation.

I love the raw wood look and I’m so pleased with how well the saran wrap trick helped me strip the paint off of this old desk.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ve been inspired to strip a piece of furniture the easy way!

How to Strip furniture with this Easy Tip

stripping furniture the easy way

Learn how to strip the paint and sealer off of wood furniture with this easy tip that reduces the time it takes. This little furniture stripping tip is a game changer.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost 30 dollars

Materials

  • gloves
  • plastic drop cloth
  • saran wrap (I still couldn't believe I would be using this)
  • paint stripper
  • paint scraper
  • brillo pad or steel wool (a couple of these)
  • sand paper
  • electric sander (not necessary, but helpful)
  • paper towels
  • Mineral spirits - to clean up paint stripper
  • Klean Strip Liquid Deglosser

Tools

  • Paint Scraper
  • Sander

Instructions

  1. Spray the desk with Citristrip or any other paint stripper. Make sure the desk is clean before spraying it.
  2. Cover the desk with saran wrap (there isn't an easy way to do this, just make sure the saran wrap is up against all those curves and crevices)
  3. Wait at least a few hours or overnight.
  4. Remove the saran wrap and use your brillo pad or scraper and scrape away the residue
  5. After all the residue is removed, spray a clean brillo pad or heavy paper towel with the after wash or mineral spirits and wipe away any extra residue.
  6. Start sanding
  7. For the hard to reach spots like the nooks and crannies of the legs, use a liquid sander or deglosser.
  8. Continue sanding until you have reached your desired finish
  9. Apply a sealer to your wood piece

If you enjoyed this post I would love for you to pin the image below!

how to strip furniture with Citristrip
How to Strip furniture and wood

Lindsey**

How to refinish Wood Furniture and Remove Scratches
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UrbanAero Furniture

Monday 8th of February 2021

This is beautiful! What grit of sandpaper did you use

it was great to see us

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Monday 8th of February 2021

600 grit I believe. Thank you!

Tara

Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Hey hey! Even easier than saran wrap are garbage bags. Simply cut the bags down the seams and open them up. Wrap and then let it sit. I like to let it sit for 12 hours. Doesnt require that long, but the heat trapped inside keeps the stripper wet and easy to scrape off. I like to use a plastic scraper. Works wonders and doesn't scratch the wood at all.

Happy Refinishing 😍

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Thursday 3rd of December 2020

Great tip! I'll try that next time. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Love this information! Thank you for sharing! I wondered how you feel about using heat guns for stripping furniture? I painted my kitchen cabinets about 5 years ago, and I wanted to change the color on the bottom ones to something darker. I heard some positive reviews about heat guns, but I wanted to know your opinion. Thanks for the wonderful post!

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Monday 14th of September 2020

I've never used a heat gun to strip anything so I can't tell you first hand what I think. I think it looks pretty tedious. It seems like it would work ok on a flat surface but I wonder about curves like spindles. Since cabinets are mainly flat it might be a good option!

Lauren

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Is there a trick with the deglosser? I’ve tried that for my kitchen cabinets and it didn’t seem to do anything. Love the final result of the table!!

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Sunday 2nd of August 2020

In my experience, just patience and persistence is what works with stripping furniture. I wish I had a trick for this, but for now I don't.

Victoria Tegg

Thursday 11th of June 2020

It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon

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