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The Home Depot

Wood Stripping Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpentry > Wood Stripping Guide
Wood Stripping Guide

Wood stripping is an important task when it comes to rehabbing old furniture, but it must be done right so as to not ruin your important piece. Wood stripping is one of those jobs that seems like it could be tackled yourself with a quick trip to a home improvement supplies store, but it’s really best left to professionals knowledgeable about the best way to keep your wood looking beautiful.


First, establish with your contractor what you will be stripping so that he or she knows how big or small the job will be. Your job could be as delicate as stripping an antique rocking chair or as expansive as a wood floor. Let your contractor know so that they will know if they can tackle your problem.

  1. 1.Size the Job

    It’s also important that you and your contractor have established what kind of wood you have and what that particular wood can stand. Is it hardwood? Softwood?

    If you are having a larger job done like a deck or floor – ask how long it will take so that you’ll know if your family will have to reroute or reschedule activities going on in your home.

  2. 2.Type of Finish

    Then, have your professional establish what kind of finish is already on your piece. That’s because some finishes or more difficult to remove than others. Talk with him or her about what method is best to remove your particular finish without causing any damage to the wood.

  3. 3.Wood Type

    It’s also important that you and your contractor have established what kind of wood you have and what that particular wood can stand. Is it hardwood? Softwood? Will he or she be using a sander? A varnish remover? Heat? There are many types of removers and many different ways to apply them, so all this is important to know.

  4. 4.Chemical Remover

    If he or she is using a chemical varnish remover, make sure it is quality. Cheaper removers can be toxic and flammable. That may not be something you want if you are especially eco-conscious or have small children or pregnant women in your home. Try to stay away from varnishes containing paraffin, which can make the wood look oily and make it more difficult for the new finish to adhere. Also, be careful that the varnish you use doesn’t hurt the grain of the wood or the glue used to hold the piece together

  5. 5.Safety First

    Make sure your contractor is keeping the area safe as he or she works. If using a chemical varnish remover – make sure the area is kept well ventilated. If using a heat remover, make sure all work is done outside only so as to lessen the risk of fire. Also, if they are working in your home, make sure they are taking care to keep the work area as clean as possible. Stripping wood can be a messy job, and you don’t want your other belongings ruined in the process.

  6. 6.Coverage

    Make sure your contractor applies the stripper everywhere. An uneven stripping job could mean an uneven look when you apply a new varnish or finish. You are paying the money so you want the job done right!

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