Tips for Removing Paint from Furniture

Finished Side Table

I’m going to be very honest. I messed up.

I got this awesome Mid Century modern table for $7, yes, seven dollars! And, I had the “fantastic” idea of painting it blue, because at some point I wad doing a glam pop art décor. Which, it is important to say because I changed my mind months later.

But, the damage was already done. I had spray painted that baby with enough paint to cover Yosemite’s Half Dome. For months I dreaded the idea of having to remove the paint, just because, this is a Mid Century Modern table, and I had to be done right, carefully.

However, it needed to be done, so it is done. I you have made the mistake of painting great furniture and want to retract, or, maybe you bought somebody else’s mistake. This is what you do.

Difficulty: Easy, but you have to be patient.

Time: Depends how many layers of paint you need to remove and the crevices.

Materials Paloma on the Hill


  • Eco-friendly paint remover or “stripper”
  • Regular stripper if the green product fails
  • A product applicator, read your product instructions.
  • Spatula
  • Clean rags
  • A bowl to pour the product
  • A bucket with water
  • Toothbrush – for difficult crevices
  • Brown paper and tape to cover surfaces
  • Quality gloves
  • Quality mask
  • Safety glasses
  • A well-ventilated area


1. Clean the surfaces with a damp rag in order to remove any gunk or dust. Let dry.

2. Prep your workspace and cover any areas of the furniture you wish to protect. Before handling the paint remover, make sure you are wearing your glasses, mask and gloves.

3. Pour the stripper in the bowl (see notes below) for ease of application. Apply the product as directed and let sit.

  • I always opt for the eco-friendly products and they usually work great. In this project, not so much. After various applications, it was obvious I was going to need a stronger one.
Paint Stripper Paloma on the hill

Pardon the mess…Yikes!

4. Once the “cooking” time has passed, with the scrapper test a small area and see if the paint comes off. If it does not come off easily, apply more product and let it sit.

  • The scrapper is not for scraping, just a tool to remove the paint, if you have to scrape, you need more time and product.

5. Once the paint starts to come easily (like peeling an onion), continue until the section is clean. You might have to use the toothbrush for joineries and crevices.


6. Once the paint has been removed, use a clean damp rag to remove any chemical residual. However, if the product you are using advises for something else, please follow those instructions.

7. Continue until you are done. Before you apply any topcoat product, please allow the wood to dry. I followed with a light sand before I applied any finishing products.

*Every product is different. I cannot stress enough the importance of following the instructions to the “T”. Apply, leave and remove as directed. Regardless of what product you choose, these are still chemicals and you can get burn.

Tips for Success:

  • I cannot stress enough how important ventilation is, even if you use the “green” stuff.
  • Please, use quality gloves and you might even want to wear two pairs at a time.
  • The breathing mask is super important. This stuff is nasty, please protect your lungs.
  • Don’t skip on the safety glasses!
  • Work one area at a time.
  • Use a toothbrush for crevices, motifs or any area that is difficult to reach.
  • Do not scratch the wood. Be very careful with the scrapper.
  • When selecting a bowl to pour the stripper in, follow the original product logic or read the instructions.
  • If you prefer to try a green product first and find out it does not work properly, make sure you remove all of it before you apply the new one. Mixing different chemical products is always a terrible idea.

Share with a friend if you found this useful! Why keep all the knowledge to yourself! 🙂

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