Long before crazy do-it-yourselfers like me came along with paint brushes in hand to paint over wood —GASP! It was fun! I bet you never even considered this question before, have you? We get so caught up in how to do it that we forget that not every piece of wood furniture needs to be stripped. Can you strip furniture by sanding? However, I have refinished several dressers where I simply sanded the top down or the body and skipped the chemical strippers.
Removing old varnish and stain can give wood a fresh start. Sanding is one of the most common methods, as it cuts through varnish and stain, and reveals a fresh layer of wood. Although sanding is fast, it produces a great deal of fine-particle dust, which is easy to inhale, and it can remove more wood than you desire. If sanding is out of the question, you need to strip the wood instead.
Finding out which wood stripping method to use, and how to contain the debris, makes a messy job cleaner, safer, and more effective. Everyone knows that the simplest way to rejuvenate a tired surface is to put on a fresh coat of paint. Eventually, however, all new paint becomes old paint.
We get a steady stream of customers asking us for advice about paint stripper use and how to remove paint and varnish from wood. Thankfully contemporary stripping products are relatively simple, effective and safe to use. Much better than the bad old days when your only choice was pure caustic soda, nasty stuff!