Stripping layers of paint is not hard. It’s messy. It’s smelly. And it takes some time, but it’s not hard. Unfortunately, the more layers there are, usually the more messy, smelly and time consuming it becomes. Today’s salvaged makeover is all about how to strip furniture without burning your nostril hairs. And can I just say, YOU guys are the heroes of today’s post!
Over the years, whenever I shared a makeover that included furniture stripper, I always complained about the smell. A few of you who regularly chime in were always saying “Denise, you’ve got to try CitriStrip”.
I finally picked up a bottle and it’s amazing! Easy to use and NO harsh fumes. I should have listened to your advice way before now because I would have saved myself assaulted nostrils, pounding headaches and a smelly house.
Here’s a salvaged stool MMM picked up curbside, or maybe it was being thrown away on one of his jobs. I can’t remember. Wherever it came from, it’s super cute (and super filthy) and had about 30 coats of paint on it. Well, not quite thirty… but A LOT.
And here it is with ALL the layers of paint stripped off. I cut down the legs, color blocked the bottom in black, and repurposed this cutie into a plant stand. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it au’ natural or stain it. The exposed natural wood reminds me of the planters they sell in HomeSense or Ikea. What do you think? Stain?… or maybe just some white or clear wax and leave the natural wood look?
THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I USE. YOU CAN SEE MY FULL DISCLOSURE HERE.
- Wood Stool – SALVAGED!
- Floor Protection (plastic, cardboard etc.)
- Safety Wear (Eyewear, Gloves, Clothes, Mask, etc.)
- Synthetic Paint Brush
- Putty Knife
- Sander + Sandpaper
- Caviar Mineral Chalk Paint
- All-Purpose Oscillating Tool (similar)
HOW TO STRIP FURNITURE:
Step #1 – Applying CitriStrip (Or Your Choice of Stripper)
I applied the CitriStrip the lazy way. I shook the bottle as instructed and then poured it on the top of the stool.
With an old used up dollar store brush, I dipped into my puddle and brushed the stripper ALL over the stool. Tip – An old cheap synthetic brush works amazing (stripper dissolves foam brushes) and can be thrown away after your project.
Step #2 – Be Patient
Whatever brand you’re using, the instructions will say how long to wait before the paint will lift. Be patient and let the stripper strip! CitriStrips’ instructions say to wait 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before lifting. The first layer of paint lifted in 20 minutes on this stool. You’ll know when it has lifted the paint enough to scrape off because it will look bubbled like this…
Step #3 – Removing The Paint
I like to use a metal dollar store putty knife to scrape the paint off. It’s suggested to use a plastic putty knife so you don’t gouge the wood – but I’ve never had any issues and I always give my pieces a sanding afterward anyway. I let the scraped off paint fall onto the plastic drop sheet or in this case, the stool was small enough to use a large garbage bag.
Step #4 – Repeat Steps 1 to 3
Keep repeating step 1 through 3 until ALL layers of paint have been removed and the wood is showing. CitriStrip says it removes multiple layers but I applied it 3 times. After all the layers (I counted 5 – not 30!) I was so happy when I finally started seeing some wood!
Step #5 – Clean and Sand
Once the paint stripper has done the majority of the work and most of the paint is removed, its time to make it look pretty. Here you can clean it up with mineral spirits and then sand away any leftover paint. I used my oscillating tool with a corner sanding pad. It works amazingly well to get into all the small tricky areas.
A few things I’ve learned from all the furniture I’ve stripped over the years, always protect your work area and YOURSELF. Safety first. Heavy duty gloves, mask, eyewear, and good ventilation is a must.
Also, using plastic wrap on smaller pieces or wrapping larger pieces in garbage bags helps keep the stripper wet and active. Although I didn’t bother with this project, it can be helpful with multi-layers of paint.
A big thank you to all of you who encouraged me to try Citristrip. You guys are the BEST.
For those of you who are new to the SI Blog, I’ll be posting a smaller project (like this repurposed stool) per month… kind of a ‘build-your-confidence makeover’ for those of you just out starting out. I know from experience, smaller pieces are way less frightening to tackle than Great Grandma’s ginormous sideboard or china cabinet, right!?! Smaller projects are the perfect way to help develop new paint techniques while becoming more confident. The great thing is, knock off a few small projects and you’ll be itching to restyle your Great Grandma’s pieces in no time…. I promise. 🙂
NOW FOR ALL MY LONG TIME FRIENDS/SI READERS …IT’S YOUR TURN. 🙂 HELP THE NEWBIES OUT AND SHOW THEM HOW SUPPORTIVE WE ARE. FEEL FREE TO SHARE HOW YOU STRIP FURNITURE AND THE PRODUCTS YOU USE… OR CHIME IN ON WHETHER I SHOULD STAIN THIS OR NOT..… I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU.
Happy stripping and have an inspiring day my friends,
PIN AND SHARE!
Wow just came across your site, and I have an antique walnut desk that has been painted. Never like the paint, but was given to me. So when I see how easy it is to remove paint with the Citrastrip I was so happy. As soon as I can do hope to get this project started. Thank for all the tips and info. Cecilia
Hi Cecilia and WELCOME! I’m sure your walnut desk will look amazing once it’s all stripped down. Have fun! 🙂
Love your Stool and your blog. It’s so informative and easy to follow. Stripping furniture is not my fav task but necessary sometimes. I usually stain the tops and sometimes stencil or paint in text on top of them. Have refinished several as I usually find them at yard sales and estate sales or thrift stores. Just bought 3 today. And have already prepped them but only needed tops sanded a little.
That sounds amazing Alice! I do love that look. Have fun. 🙂
Hey Denise – I just found your blog a few weeks ago, and I love it! the stripper i use is “SafeStrip” from Sherwin Williams. it’s a bit more expensive, but can strip up to 15. Layers. Of. Paint. all at once! No crazy “burn-your-nostrils” smell either. Thanks for all your tips and inspiration!
Hi Kristen…WELCOME! I’m at SW often and never even thought to ask what type of stripper they sell there. Thanks so much for this! I’ll check it out next time I go. 🙂
Lydia Prokulevich says
Great job! I think it is too plain and needs some colour to blossom.
Hi Lydia! 🙂 It is plain – kind of monochrome, right? Maybe gold. Or white wax on the wood and then a brighter accent color for the leg.
It must have been fun seeing what the next paint color was, but the turquoise would have been a big decision as to leave it or take it off. I liked the worn look! However, after the stool was completed it looks wonderful and is a totally new and modern look. You can live with it like it is until you want to change it (an I am sure that day will come!). Cute basket too! Did you paint that too? I enjoy your projects and how thorough you are with directions. Thanks a bunch for sharing!
Thanks, Cecilia! 🙂 The basket is from Ikea. I debated on changing the original color on the top, but it matches the grey in my bedroom really well. It might look good gold tho… 😉
Lorin Small says
Wax paper! Lately it’s become my best stripper trick. Wow that sounds like a line from an adult movie. 😉 I cover the stripper with it and it keeps from drying out when I pull it off a lot of the yuck sticks to it. I posted that and some other tool tips on the nut house’s blog.
Love that you are using citrus stuff I converted last summer and my skin is thankful.
Wax paper, eh! I guess it has the same effect as plastic/plastic bags. How long do you leave it on for Lorin? And just curious how many layers you’ve stripped down in one shot?… no adult movie jarg intended. LOL
Hi! Back again from Pinterest.
Welcome to the actually fun world of furniture stripping! 🙂
If you were to put the Citristrip on thick, cover it with plastic bags to hold the Citristrip against the wood and LEAVE IT ALONE, you’d get more layers off and not waste the Citristrip. As long as it’s in contact with the wood, it still works. Even once it’s dried, believe it or not. It’s really easy to scrape paint off in the for of dust. Those wonderful ribbons of bubbling paint are great, but they lift the Citristrip off the wood. Press it down.
In my case, antique doors with two applications: 1 to remove up to 7 layers of paint, and 2: another coat to suck the ancient stain out of the wood. Yup. Bare, beautiful, raw wood.
If you leave it alone to lift like that, you won’t need to scrape like that. After neutralizing with water and a kitchen scrubbie, you’ll only need to smooth the wood with 220 grit sand paper.
Be EXTREMELY careful with mineral spirits, because if you do have all those layers lift off like I do, you’ll be down to the stain. Mineral spirits can reliquify the stain right back into the wood. Usually in a nice shade of ;magenta. Ask me how I know. Since so many layers of paint come off, it frequently will bubble old paint out of the corners. I use an eyeglass screwdriver to pick it out and done.
So you’re on the right track, but you’re still making this harder than you need to. I can do a door or cabinet in 4 hours. Because I leave it alone for three! LOL! That’s SO hard not to peek.
Lovely job on that little stool!
This is amazing Christine, thank you! I’m going to give this technique a try on my next heavy duty piece. I’m all for letting it do it’s thing for hours if it makes my job easier. Great tips and much appreciated. 🙂
BTW. I enjoy your work and your writing style. It’s always nice to read what you share!
Thanks so much, Christine! xo 🙂
Hi there! Have you used it to strip paint off of Slate or marble? I have a very heavy slate fireplace surround in 5 pieces from the early 1800’s & a separate marble mantle that needs to be stripped but I’m worried that I’m going to ruin them both..Thoughts?
kim o says
as always, a fabulous eye you have, such wonderful inspiration you provide!
Thank you Kim! 😀
I LOVE how you turned a sad little chipped up yellow stool into an updated modern plant stand! What an amazing look with the raw wood and contrasting black legs. So cute:)
Thanks, I think it looks way more updated too! MMM picked it up ages ago thinking I might be able to use it for staging but I didn’t use it once because it did look kinda sad. 🙂
Marie -The Interior Frugalista says
Denise, I have to admit that Citristrip has been recommended to me also and I haven’t tried it yet. Wondering where you found it here in Canada, as I’ve been unsuccessful? I’ve been using EZ Strip which is another low VOC stripper but I really would love to give Citristrip a try. As for the stool now plant stand, the cute black dipped feet give it less IKEA vibe but I could see white wax on the plain wood too.
I bought the Citristrip in Home Depot cross-border (NY) Marie. I haven’t actively looked for it around here but maybe that’s exactly why I took me so long to try this stuff… I never see it! And ya, the white wax would look really good too. And give it some protection if/when I over water..lol. I use to have this amazing green thumb and lately, not so much. I’m really trying tho. I love having real greenery/plants. 🙂
Debi@ Debi Carser Designs says
Hi Denise – LOVE your post. I’m with Marie. I’m trying to find it in Canada. I’ve googled many hardware stores but with no luck. I don’t think it’s available here.
Thanks Debi! 🙂 I’ve looked everywhere too and they don’t sell it in any Canadian stores from what I can see. That said, I did recently find CitriStrip on Amazon.ca but it sells for $45 for a quart. I just picked up the exact same size cross-border for $15. (rolling my eyes).
Linda at q is for quandie says
Citristrip is my stripper of choice too! I love that I can use it indoors without worrying about toxic fumes. As far as your stool, I think it looks fantastic as is, but if it were mine I’d be tempted to protect it from moisture coming from that potted plant with some wax. I bet it would look amazing with a coat of clear wax followed by a coat of white wax.
Exactly Linda! I can’t tell you how much I dread using the strippers with harsh fumes. When the weather is cold and I need to get a piece finished, I use my studio (aka my basement) and the smell permeates the entire house. Citristrip actually smells nice in comparison. And as for sealing, that’s exactly what Marie was saying too. Great minds. 🙂
Janet Baker says
I love how cute the stool is as a plant stand it turned out beautifully I’ll definitely have to try this it’s funny but I loved the still chippy yellow too lol got a thing for yellow so sunny
Always so grateful to you for all your help
Hey Janet!!! 🙂 I know. We both have a thing for yellow. You and your yellow kitchens, me and my yellow homes… 😉 It’s not the yellow I didn’t like but how built up it looked with all those layers. It was fun seeing all the different colors it had been painted tho. I really liked the blue too. 🙂
Less is more! Leave as is! It looks great with that planter and those black legs!!
Hi Rosanne! Thanks for this! 🙂 It’s in the corner of my bedroom right now and I think I’m liking the bare wood. Sometimes I have to live with a piece before I can decide.