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topic 12167

Paint removal on antique dresser


I have an antique dresser that has been painted several times in the past, and is currently a teal color. I would like to remove these layers of paint so I can get down to the original wood grain. How can I do so without risking any damage to original facade?

Nathan K
- Washington State, USA

June 2, 2008

I have an antique china hutch that is in desperate need of restoration. It was painted white at one time, and is now left with white flecks embedded in the grain of the wood. I have tried organic paint remover, orange-goo, and hard-core paint remover - nothing seems to work! The piece was my great-great grandmothers and I don't want to ruin the wood, but I need to get it finished. What, if anything, can I use, or do?

Angie Smith
Hobbyist - Mill Creek, Washington

July 18, 2008

This is a common problem with furniture that was one step short of going to the thrift. For the most part this is an artistic project that no professional really would want to do. The reason is that white paint does not come out of cracks easily, and there can be damage to the grain in the process.

My general solution is worth consideration if you have an artistic eye and hand.
1. strip with paste stripper and wash with liquid refinisher--keep it wet--repeat if necessary before it dries. Use a stiff bristle brush (not metal) to remove the paint as deep as is reasonable. Some paint will remain.
2. sand to 320 to desired smoothness and flatness.
3. seal with a coat of 50/50 shellac mixture
4. fill grain with colored vinyl paste wood grain filler--white is surely an option here. Let dry sufficiently and sand lightly or scrape until grain is high-lighted and the hard grain looks uniform enough to stain.
5. I suggest staining with water-based dye stain
6. stain, glaze, tone, and finish.

If all this seems above your ability or interest, then I suggest you repaint the piece. There are many finely painted and stenciled furniture pieces made from old furniture in almost any condition. Have fun being an artist.

Todd Randall
- Felton, Ca. USA

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