Morning room makeover week 1 was all about stripping and preparing the furniture in the room. I have some great tips and tricks for you, but can we talk about the room and how the week went first?
Would you believe the week 1 of the One Room Challenge makeover went off without a hitch? No really, it did! I got my plan together, set project deadlines, and completed my ritual procrastination activities. By the way, the new fall tv line up is excellent this year. Haha
(I must admit, most big tasks start off with me curled up in a ball on the couch working up the motivation to simply start. And while I’m confessing, I’ll go ahead and admit most my blog posts start out in similar fashion. Only instead of looking at TV, I’m procrastinating with stupid stuff like transposing my dog’s face on a photo of a baby hippo in Photoshop. Heck yeah, Ray makes a very cute baby hippo! That is time well spent; I don’t care what my husband says.)
TV aside, I finished painting the room, removed all the trim and eventually shuffled my tail end out to the garage to start stripping the mcm credenza and continue my work on the dining room chairs.
While I was stripping the credenza and dinning chairs, I began to think of all the furniture I’ve stripped over the years and the do’s and don’ts I’ve learned along the way. For example, what kind of stripper works and what will leave you disappointed.
Here are a few basics….
1. Choose A Well-Ventilated Spot.
I strip furniture in my garage with the garage door open and use a fan to move the air out. If it’s a cloudy day I will move outside to the drive way. Strippers need to be wet to work so you want to avoid sunny spots that will cause the stripper to dry too quick. If you can’t get outside you may have to opt for a “safe” stripper.
You may be wondering “Why not just use a “safe” stripper to begin with?” The biggest reason is that they don’t work very well, and I’ll get to more on that in a minute.
2. Gather Stripping Supplies and Set Up Your Work Area
Gathering supplies seems obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself “I’ll just strip this real quick,” and didn’t take the time to methodically set up my work area. For me this always leads to making a bigger mess and takes more time in the long run.
Some of my set up includes…
Basic Stripping Supplies
- Methylene Chloride Based Stripper
- Mineral Spirits
- Paper or Drop Cloth. (I prefer paper and you can find the big rolls in the drop cloth section at the home improvement store)
- Soft Wire Brushes
- Scrub Pads
- Proactive Gloves, Mask, & Eyewear
- Cheap Paintbrush
- Containers For Stripper & Solvents
- Box (to collect the scraped off stripper and paint)
- Steel Wool
- Wax Paper to lay over stripper if it is drying too quickly
- Twine (this works well to get in the cracks of ornate chair legs. Sometimes I wrap steel wool around the twine)
- Sharpened Dowel Rod ( this is another great tool to get into cracks)
- Bucket of water ( to quickly rinse of any stripper that come in contact with the skin)
3. Skip the Flip Flops and Shorts
Do you want to know how often I’ve told myself, “It’s hot in the garage and I’ll be super careful not to get any stripping on me”? A lot. Do you want to know how often the “I’ll be neat” plan worked? 0% of the time. Yep it never works.
Inevitably, at some point stripper will splash back on me and send me reaching for the water to wash off the burning sensation. Pants, gloves, mask, and some protective eyewear are a must.
4. Remove it all!
Don’t forget to remove seats, hardware, or anything else that will get in the way.
5. Paint Stripper: Just get the good stuff.
Methylene Chloride Strippers
Some of the best strippers on the market are methylene chloride based strippers. These strippers work from the bottom up and are incredibly effective. They work fast and are easily cleaned up with solvents like Mineral Spirits or Lacquer Thinner The down side is that methylene chloride is a strong chemical and you need to take precautions like using in a ventilated area. For this reason may people opt for a “safe stripper” like citristrip.
N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone Strippers aka “safe stripers”
Here is the scoop on safe stripers and why I hate them. First the positives with “safe” strippers, they smell nice and don’t have the fumes of the methylene chloride strippers. They are also better choice for use indoors. The active ingredient is N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone (NMP) which is not carcinogen (but I would not use it if you are pregnant). You still want to wear gloves and take safety precautions.
That all sounds good so what is the issue? The problem is they don’t always work. Some paints strip easy while others don’t budge with safe strippers. Safe strippers take a long time to work. You may have to wrap your furniture to keep the stripper from drying before it has a chance to be effective. Another down side is the orange paste can be a pain to clean off. It dries and gunks on the furniture piece. Denatured Alcohol works well but it’s a hassle. Lastly, it may take up to a week before the furniture is dry enough to apply a finishing product after a safe stripper has been applied. Furniture striped with a methylene chloride based stripper is dry and ready for the next step in 24 hours.
So basically, unless I need to strip something inside I skip the expensive headache of safe strippers.
Oh one more thing on types of stripper, you don’t want to mix the different types of products together. No you don’t get a glorious chemical reaction. Mixing simply makes both products less effective and its a waste of time and money.
6. Think Thick then Thin
It was about 17 years ago and I was struggling to strip an old ornate door and called my Grandfather for guidance. His advice was, thick then thin. Start off with a paste stripper and remove as much as you can then go back with a thin liquid and work out the stubborn paint with a soft wire brush, scrub pad, or steel wool. Lastly wash off the stripper residue with a solvent like Mineral Spirits or Lacquer Thinner. Thick then thin; it works!
7. Don’t Be in a Hurry Let the Chemicals Do the Work.
A mistake I often make is being in a hurry and it not giving the stripper paste enough time. The paint should be bubbling up and easy to remove. I use a scraper to remove it and scrape the paint stripper mix in a small box to dispose of. Stripper can soften wood so be careful when using scrapers and other tools. My second favorite mistake to make is trying to do too many areas at a time subsequently having some of the stripping paste dry before I can clean it off. It’s best to just take your time.
(I almost titled #6 “Don’t be in a hurry let the stripper do the work.” But then I thought, “hmmm that doesn’t sound like we are talking about furniture any more. I should probably change that.” LOL)
8. Rinse Off Residue & Sand
At this point your furniture looks like something out of the movie Alien and you will ask yourself if this chair will ever be clean again. But have faith, a solvent like mineral spirits is your friend. I wipe the furniture down with a solvent, soft brushes and rags. Finish off with a light sanding useing steel wool or fine sand paper.
9. For the Love of all Things Good and Holy, Please Seal Raw Wood Before You Paint
Lastly, once the wood is dry, it’s ready to be finished with stain, sealer, or paint. If you plan to paint your furniture please do your future self a favor and apply a clear sealer over the wood before applying paint. Trying to strip paint that was applied to raw wood is the stuff of furniture nightmares!
I’ve been going through this problem right now with my dinning chairs. I stripped the MCM dresser in about 2 hours but I have been working on these chairs for daysssssssss!
I have most of the chairs basically stripped but I still have more work to go. They are sitting in the room a sad pile waiting for more attention.
It’s been a long week, but I feel really good about where I’m at. This week (week 2) I plan to finish the credenza, hang the wallpaper. and continue to cut the new trim.
Thank you for following along! Oh and don’t forget to check out the other one room challenge rooms over at Calling it Home
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