Remove any existing paint or stain by stripping it away. Choose an outdoor workspace or a well-ventilated one, such as your open garage. If your furniture is on a back patio, work there. Just take the time to cover the patio or floor surface with drop cloths to protect against drips and stains. Secure the drop cloths with painter’s tape.
Remove loose paint or finish with a paint scraper. To remove finishes quickly from larger pieces of furniture, use a belt sander. Take care not to damage your furniture by sanding too deeply. Sand carefully by hand around decoratively curved areas with a fine-grit sanding sponge.
You can also use a chemical stripping agent. Using a medium-sized paintbrush, apply the remover evenly over the surface. Let it soak 20 to 30 minutes but don’t allow it to dry. Remove the old finish using a plastic scraper or a smooth, round-edged putty knife. The surface may be soft, so be careful not to damage it with the scraper. Allow the piece to dry completely.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear rubber gloves and protective goggles when using strong chemicals.
Never strip furniture near an open flame, as stripping chemicals can ignite.
Use chemical strippers clearly marked “no cleanup” or “will wash away with water.” However, the “no cleanup” type may leave a residue, which must be sanded away. Residue from the “wash away” type chemical strippers can be removed by rinsing with water. Be aware that water may raise the grain of the wood—lightly sand to reduce this effect.
Heat guns can be used as a supplement to other methods to remove particularly stubborn finishes. Make sure the chemical stripper has dried completely before using a heat gun.