How To Strip and Refinish Wood Furniture

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

You’d never know it, but this Mid-Century Modern credenza was once disguised in flat white paint. For twenty bucks, it was really hard to resist buying it and testing my skills at striping off paint. Learn how after the jump…

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

What You Need


  • 2 quarts paint stripper
  • Mineral spirit
  • Miniwax Wood Finish Stain (I used English Chestnut)


  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Mouse Sander
  • 150 grit mouse sander refill
  • Paint brush
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Toothpick
  • Screw driver
  • Respirator


1. Start by removing any hardware (knobs, pulls, etc.).

2. Make sure you’re working in a well ventilated area, and use a respirator. The fumes from the paint stripper can be very harmful. Put on goggles and rubber gloves before handing the paint stripper.

3. Apply the paint stripper to small sections at a time by pouring it directly onto the surface and spreading it around with a disposable paintbrush. If working with a large piece of furniture, you don’t want to cover the whole area at once and risk the solvent drying. If so, you would have to reapply.

3. Once the paint stripper is applied, try not disperse or fuss with it. This will break down the wax barrier that prevents the chemicals from drying out. Let it sit for the time recommended by the manufacturer.

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

3. When the stripper starts to bubble, test a small area with the putty knife. If you’re able to scrape the paint off effortlessly, down to the wood, the solvent is ready. There will be lots of mess and gunk and goo. As an extra precaution, collect the goop and keep it in a sealed can to minimize the harmful fumes.

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

4. Work in sections, scraping the paint off and then wiping down the the wood with a rag dipped in mineral spirits. This should remove the remainder of the paint. If there’s any paint stuck in small crevasses or the grain of the wood, use a toothpick to remove it. Then carefully and lightly sand any stubborn remaining paint off with 120 grit sand paper. I thought I would run into some problems after finding out the credenza was made from veneer and not totally solid wood, but as long as I was careful with my sander, getting all the paint off was a breeze.

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

5. Wipe off any dust. Apply stain to to the surface with a clean paint brush. Let the stain sit for the manufacturer’s recommended time and wipe off with a clean rag. You may add another coat if you like a richer, darker color. I used two coats.

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

6. Screw back knobs, handles, and legs, and replace drawers.

You’re finished!

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