As messy as it is, sometimes stripping off an old, unwanted finish is unavoidable, especially if we want to appreciate the beauty of the grain hidden beneath a layer of paint or dark tinted varnish. When I found this Arts and Crafts style armchair, it had a heavy coat of a 1960s “antiquing kit” all over it. If you would like to see how I tackled this stripping job, just read on.
I could see on the arm where the dark tinted varnish (almost like a paint) had worn away, revealing the beautiful oak grain, so I knew this would be worth the effort.
Heavy sanding would destroy the character of the wood, so I reached for Formby’s® Paint & Poly Remover, which I have relied on for several years. As the label indicates, the chemicals that soften the old finish require protection: glasses, gloves, dropcloths, and old clothes.
This is no small project, so I am working outdoors, protecting everything the Paint & Poly Remover might touch — including me!
I start by brushing on a thick layer of Paint & Poly Remover. As you can see, it begins to loosen the old finish almost immediately.
What a pretty sight! The old finish is practically sliding off the wood, making my job much easier.
After about 20 minutes the old finish had softened, so I carefully scraped off the worst of it, taking care not to scratch the wood.
I then used Formby’s® Paint & Poly Remover Wash and a synthetic pad to scrub off the remaining loose finish. This is much better than water, which causes the wood fibers to swell and get fuzzy.
A final pass with a fine grade of synthetic pad and some more Remover Wash reveals the clean, beautiful oak grain.
After just a light sanding to clean up any remnants of old finish, my Arts and Crafts armchair will be ready for a fresh coat of Minwax® stain and finish.
Until next time,
Thanks for stopping by!
Note: These instructions pertain only to paint and any non-original coats of tinted varnish. The original finish on any antique should not be stripped, so be sure to have any antique evaluated by a professional before you begin working on it.
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