How to Strip and Paint Wood Furniture

It doesn't take much to strip and primp that old bench you have sitting in storage. Check out our tips to learn how to do it safely!

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Before you toss that old piece of furniture on the side of the street or store it for the next garage sale, think about its potential. Stripping an antique or well-loved piece of furniture of its paint or stain can entirely change the look! Let the natural wood stand out or cover it in a fresh color to bring new life to your home. Check out our instructions on how to strip and primp wood furniture. You will love what you find under years of paint!

Note: Paint-stripping chemicals can be dangerous. Be sure to read the manufacturer's precautions before starting.

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What You Need

  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Goggles
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint and varnish remover
  • Abrasive stripping pads
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Paint (we used a matte-finish chalk-style paint)
  • Clear soft wax (optional)

Step 1: Strip Paint

Before starting, outfit yourself with chemical-resistant gloves and goggles.

Using a brush, apply a paint and varnish remover to the areas to be stripped following manufacturer's directions. To remove varnish from stubborn areas, such as turned legs, use abrasive stripping pads soaked in odorless mineral spirits.

Note: Chemical strippers are not ideal for large projects. For cabinets or large furniture pieces, you may want to consider heaters to remove paint or hire a professional.

Step 2: Sand Surface

Vigorous sanding after stripping produces bare wood surfaces. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. Start with a course-grit sandpaper to remove the majority of the paint, and finish with a fine-grit sandpaper to achieve the smooth finish. 

Wipe clean before applying paint or stain. A tack cloth works well to attract dust and other debris, leaving an ultra-clean surface.

Step 3: Paint and Finish

Use painters tape to protect areas you don't want painted. Paint the bench your desired color and finish.

When the bench is dry, you can protect the finish with a clear soft wax according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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