Tips to Remove Paint and Varnish

Getting rid of paint and varnish stains from furniture is a headache but it needs to be done. You wouldn’t want your beautiful furniture pieces stained with blobs of paint because it will completely mar its appearance. Needless to say, paint and varnish stains will affect the overall look of the room too.

Protect yourself

Removing paint or varnish involves the usage of chemicals that have noxious fumes. Protecting yourself is a priority, so ensure that you put on heavy rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and protective eyewear. If you are working inside, the area should have proper ventilation and fans. It is advisable to work outside because of the fumes. In case you are sensitive to fumes, don a charcoal-filter respirator.

Applying the chemicals

To remove paint from the surface, use methylene chloride. Read the safety precautions on the can carefully. It is slightly thick in composition, since wax is added to give it mass and delay evaporation. Pour it on the surface and use a paintbrush to smooth the liquid over it. Leave it like that; cover with waxed paper to reduce evaporation. Don’t poke or prod the chemical as it breaks the wax barrier, allowing it to evaporate faster. For stained or shellacked antiques, you can use a product labeled furniture refinisher. Pour in a metal pan, dip a pad of steel wool in it, and rub onto the surface with the wet steel wool. Use a dry rag to wipe it off. After it has dried, sand it a bit, and put on a coat of tung oil. Use synthetic pads if you are scraping varnish off baseboards as steel wool pads fall apart in this case.

Scrape the paint

After taking the waxed paper off the methylene chloride, scrape up the sludge (paint and goo) with a plastic spatula. This exposes the original surface beneath. Wipe the surface with a rag dipped in mineral spirits. Don’t leave the sludge lying around – put it in an empty can along with the rags and steel wool before disposing. Sludge disposal rules and regulations vary according to city, so ensure that you know how to throw it away using the correct procedure. If you notice specks of paint in the cracks of wood after stripping use a brass brittle brush to scrub it out of the pores.