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Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture – Easy DIY Steps

You can makeover that tired piece of furniture in a weekend, with this easy DIY for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture!

Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture

You can redo an old piece of furniture into something beautiful. And it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Trust me!

Today, I’m breaking down the easy to follow DIY steps for stripping paint from wood furniture. And, I have answers to the common questions I get about stripping paint on furniture.

With a great, easy-to-follow video to help you strip the old finish off your furniture.

I have been stripping old paint and stain off of furniture, stairs, and doors for the last 20 years. I have tried so many types of paint strippers.

From the strongest chemical strippers that feel a bit dangerous to use. To the “safe, green” strippers that don’t really seem to work.

The Best Paint Stripper for Wood Furniture and Doors

For the last 15 years, my favorite way to strip wood furniture is with Citristrip. Citristrip is a paint stripping gel that has a nice orange-y scent and no dangerous fumes. It also works really works great.

I also prefer Citristrip for most jobs because it’s really thick, so the gel stays where you put it.

Citristrip is also non-caustic, and can be used indoors. I’ve only had to move to stronger, more dangerous chemical strippers once.

That was for stripping 80 years of thick varnish and paints off of stairs in a house I flipped once. That was only due to the endless number of paint layers I was stripping.

And, I’m not even sure that the stronger stuff worked any better than Citristrip.

The key to getting the deepest stripping of paint layers is to keep the Citristrip paint stripping gel wet for as long as possible. When it’s wet, it’s working. 

This tutorial will show you the easiest way to use this paint stripper and how to keep it wet long enough to penetrate deep into the finish on your wood furniture.

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Ideas for Painting or Staining Furniture

And, if you need some inspiration or help with how to refinish that furniture after stripping the old paint or stain from the furniture, this blog is full of lots of furniture makeover tutorials.

Most with easy to follow videos to show you how to copy that paint look.

If you are new to refinishing furniture, I have a step by step guide for how to paint furniture for beginners. That guide includes answers to tons of common questions beginners ask me.

You might also like this list of 20+ Beginner Furniture Painting Tutorials.

Check out my favorite DIY Gray and White Distressed Paint look, this DIY Blue And Copper Chalk Paint look, this beautiful DIY Blue Distressed Paint look, and my tips for how to get a smooth finish with chalk paint.

And, you can find most of my furniture makeover videos here, on YouTube. Now, let’s get to those steps for how to strip paint from wood furniture.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from wood furniture or cabinets. With printable written steps and an easy to follow video. How to Use Citristrip and Saran Wrap to strip furniture.
Don’t forget to Save this DIY on Pinterest.

How to Strip Old Paint Off Furniture

I bought this cute little table 4 years ago for about $20. Nice deal, right? But it was blah and had that ‘kinda yellowish’ stain everywhere.

It’s not quite big enough to be a coffee table and not quite small enough to be an end table. I decided it would be a great play table for my toddlers.

So I covered the original stain with a cute, kid-friendly paint job. I loved that plane!

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
This table was too cutesy for a grown up Living Room.
Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
The little plane before stripping. Can you see all of those little marks? My kids are constantly banging their toys on everything. My poor furniture. 😉

BUT, now my kids are older and I wanted to strip off that cute paint job to give that little table a beautiful new, grownup look.

Stripping paint from wood furniture, even with those thick layers of dinged up paint and stain was pretty easy with Citristrip.

What Do I Need to Strip Furniture

Here’s what I use to strip the old finish off of furniture.

Watch this Video to See How to Use Ciristrip with Saran Wrap

In the video below I am stripping stain off of a table top. You can also watch this video for stripping paint with Citristrip and plastic wrap.

Easy DIY for Stripping Paint and Stain from Wood Furniture - Using Citristrip and Cling Wrap

DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
How I taped plastic sheeting to the table.

Step One

Start by taping off any areas that won’t be stripped. This will protect it from the stripping chemicals. You don’t want weird stripped spots messing up the texture of areas that will be painted. I used plastic sheets and painter’s tape.

Step Two

Put on your gloves, then brush a thick coating of Citristrip all over any area that will be stripped. I leave this for 1 to 3 hours. But be sure to scrap it before it dries. Once it dries, it’s not as easy to scrape off.

If it does dry before you can scrape the Citristrip off, then just apply another layer of Citristrip. Let that work for an hour, then scrape all of the stripper off.

This is optional, but you can cover the stripper with Saran Wrap and leave it longer to help the Citristrip penetrate deeper. I think it definitely helps.

The Saran Wrap slows down the drying process and lets the stripper work longer.

You can see how I used Saran Wrap with Citristrip in the video above. It’s worth doing that extra step when you’re stripping paint from wood furniture.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
To start stripping paint from wood furniture, I just pour some big glops of Citristrip on the top, then spread it around with the chip or nylon brush.

Step Three

Scrape the stripper off with your plastic knife. I am using a metal knife in the photo. But the metal can gouge your wood, if you’re not careful. Plastic is the safest bet for stripping paint from wood furniture.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
Scraping the first layer off. I actually let this Citristrip sit too long. It turns a bit white and flaky when it dries. You don’t want to let it get this dry. It still works, just not as well as it could have.

Step Four

Don’t try digging too hard in areas where it is hard to scrape the paint off. Just finish scraping any areas that come off easily, then apply another thick coat of Citristrip.

Leave for 1 to 2 more hours, then scrape again. Two applications of Citristrip worked for me. I probably had 3 layers of latex and 2 layers of polycrylic on this table.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
First layer off, applying a second round of Citristrip. This brush is labeled and only used for stripping jobs.

Step Five

After the paint was scraped off, I had a light gummy residue left on the table. With my gloves back on, I poured Mineral Spirits onto the clean scrap rag and lightly scrubbed the residue off.

You can see in the picture that the gummy bits started rolling up and rubbing away. Keep using clean spots of the rag and the Mineral Spirits to rub it off.

Any tough spots or textured areas (like my routed edge) can be wiped with the Mineral Spirits then scrubbed with the Stripping Pad. Those things are great for getting into crevices.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
The Stripping Pad, scrap cloth, and Mineral Spirits I use for stripping paint from wood furniture.
Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.

Mid-rubbing paint off with a cloth and Mineral Spirits. You can see how it kind of pills up before wiping off.

Step Six

Once all of the gummy residue is gone, let the wood dry completely. Now you can give it a good sanding. I used my trusty $30 power sander to make this quick and easy.

I focused mainly on the top, since I have a routed edge. Plus, I was going for a stripped, natural look anyway. I used 120-grit first, then switched to 220-grit for a super smooth feel.

Keep scrolling for the PRINTABLE steps for stripping paint from wood furniture.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
About to scrub the paint residue with the stripping pad and Mineral Spirits. After photo, on the bottom.
Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. I love this tutorial for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, trim, and floors. #AbbottsAtHome #StripPaint #FurnitureMakeover #DIYFurniture #DIYProjects #DIYHome #EasyDIY
Don’t forget to Pin Me!

Giving the Little Table it’s new look

After following my steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture, you’re ready to give the piece it’s new look. Check out this Furniture Painting Playlist on YouTube to see some of my favorite paint looks.

  1. I wiped the painted area of the table with mild soapy water and dried it. Then I applied 1 coat of a water-based primer.
  2. After that dried, I used a foam brush to apply 2 layers of Magnolia Homes by Kilz in Spontaneous.
  3. Then 2 coats of my favorite Matte Polycrylic went on the unfinished top. You can apply the poly over the painted area too. If you wanted extra protection.
Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
Table top ready to be sanded after following my steps for stripping paint from wood furniture.
Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
After letting the primer dry, I’m adding the first coat of paint.

I have to say, for most Latex Paints, I mix the latex into a chalk paint with my go to recipe. You can also see answers to common FAQ’s about homemade chalk paint in this How to Make Chalk Paint from Plaster of Paris post.

Chalk Paint dries faster and harder than latex, so that works best on furniture. But, I wanted to see how this new paint looked without messing with it.

BTW, I am not, in any way, affiliated with or sponsored by this paint line, this is just my honest opinion. I love the look of this paint. It dried pretty quick for a latex and seems to be less ‘plastic-y’.

Latex paints have a long cure time, because they are designed for walls, that usually doesn’t matter. But if you use a latex with a long cure time on furniture, it can be a big problem.

I used latex on the first dresser I ever painted. For months after painting the dresser, it would get dented by anything I set on top of it. I mean anything, even lightweight lamps left marks.

Not good, that’s when I learned about cure times and the awesomeness of chalk paint. Chalk Paint usually has little to no cure time. This Kilz paint cures quickly.

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
This table is ready for play, but with the grown up look I wanted.

Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture

Easy DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture. Simple to follow guide for how to strip paint on wood furniture, cabinets, steps, and floors.
You can makeover that tired piece of furniture in a weekend, with this easy DIY for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture!

Tools

  • CitriStrip
  • Saran Wrap
  • Mineral Spirits

Instructions

DIY Steps for Stripping Paint from Wood Furniture

Note: I prefer Citristrip for most jobs. It’s really thick, so stays where you put it, it’s non-caustic, can be used indoors, smells nice, and really works. I’ve only had to move to stronger, more dangerous chemicals once.

That was for stripping 80 years of thick varnish and paints off of stairs in a house I flipped once. That was only due to the endless number of paint layers I was stripping. And, I’m not even sure that the stronger stuff worked any better than Citristrip.

Step One

  1. Start by taping off any areas that won’t be stripped. This will protect it from the stripping chemicals. You don’t want weird stripped spots messing up the texture of areas that will be painted. I used plastic sheets and painter’s tape.

Step Two

  1. Put on your gloves, then brush a thick coating of Citristrip all over any area that will be stripped. I leave this for 1 to 3 hours. But be sure to scrap it before it dries. Once it dries, it’s not as eay to scrape off.
  2. If it does dry before you can scrape the Citristrip off, then just apply another layer of Citristrip. Let that work for an hour, then scrape all of the stripper off.
  3. This is optional, but you can cover the stripper with Saran Wrap and leave it longer to help the Citristrip penetrate deeper. I think it definitely helps. The Saran Wrap slows down the drying process and lets the stripper work longer.
  4. You can see how I used Saran Wrap with Citristrip in the video above. It’s worth doing that extra step when you’re stripping paint from wood furniture.

Step Three

  1. Scrape the stripper off with your plastic knife. I am using a metal knife in the photo. But the metal can gouge your wood, if you’re not careful. Plastic is the safest bet for stripping paint from wood furniture.

Step Four

  1. Don’t try digging too hard in areas where it is hard to scrape the paint off. Just finish scraping any areas that come off easily, then apply another thick coat of Citristrip. Leave for 1 to 2 more hours, then scrape again. Two applications of Citristrip worked for me. I probably had 3 layers of latex and 2 layers of polycrylic on this table.

Step Five

  1. After the paint was scraped off, I had a light gummy residue left on the table. With my gloves back on, I poured Mineral Spirits onto the clean scrap rag and lightly scrubbed the residue off. You can see in the picture that the gummy bits started rolling up and rubbing away. Keep using clean spots of the rag and the Mineral Spirits to rub it off.
  2. Any tough spots or textured areas (like my routed edge) can be wiped with the Mineral Spirits then scrubbed with the Stripping Pad. Those things are great for getting into crevices.

Step Six

  1. Once all of the gummy residue is gone, let the wood dry completely. Now you can give it a good sanding. I used my trusty $30 power sander to make this quick and easy. I focused mainly on the top, since I have a routed edge. Plus, I was going for a stripped, natural look anyway. I used 120-grit first, then switched to 220-grit for a super smooth feel.

Looking for another Easy Home Maintenance Project? You can Restore your Grout to Like New and this product seals grout too. Yay! Click here to see the How to Whiten Grout Tutorial.


Here’s 20+ Step by step beginner furniture painting tutorials to help you give your furniture a new look!

20+ Step by Step Beginner Furniture Painting Tutorials that anyone can do! Pick the paint colors and stains you like to design your own look.

You can grab the printable guide for how to paint furniture for beginners on this post.

Step by step guide for How to paint furniture for beginners, when to sand, when to prime, which paints to use, and when you need a top coat! Beginners Guide for How to Paint Furniture. Detailed explanation of each step and whether or not you can skip that step. Printable version available.

Check out the Easy DIY Steps for How to Restain a Door without stripping or removing it.

Looking for more cute and crafty decor? Try this easy DIY for a Wood Slice Wall Hook.

Add the wood slice trend to your decor with this simple wood slice idea. This is how to Make a Simple DIY Wood Slice Wall Hook. An easy wood slice decor idea. #woodslice #DIYWallHook #DIYWoodSlice #WoodSliceDecor

Or, check out this beautiful office chair makeover. Even the wheels were broken, guys!

Beautiful office chair makeover and fixing roller wheels on this chair I found on the curb. Trash to treasure story with full details on the steps to restore an office chair and fix the roller wheels.

Thanks for checking out this tutorial for stripping paint from wood furniture with Citristrip.

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Insulation surfaces

Saturday 22nd of June 2019

I am in LOVE with that color you used for the base! Turned out awesome!

Stephanie

Sunday 23rd of June 2019

Thanks so much!

Debrashoppeno5

Friday 9th of February 2018

Oh the stripping part is so tedious but it was worth it. The color is great. The table looks very grown up now. But the plane was awfully cute.

Stephanie

Saturday 10th of February 2018

I do miss that plane. I'll have to try and bring him back somewhere else. :)

Christina Makri

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Oh I love the bottom color! Stripping is one of the things I like to do on old furniture :) I like to discover what is hidden under the paint! Excellent work! Thank you for sharing at Sweet Inspiration Link Party :)

www.artdecorationcrafting.gr

Stephanie

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Thanks so much. That color is great!

Audra @ Renewed Projects

Wednesday 7th of February 2018

This is one of my favorite looks: stained top with a painted bottom. Beautiful!

Stephanie

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Thanks, Audra!

Trish@BlowingAwayOutWest

Wednesday 7th of February 2018

I love hearing everyone's favorite products for these redo projects. I'm going to give some of them a try. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Thanks, Trish. Good luck on your next makeover!

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