Refinishing furniture is a great do-it-yourself project, through it can be messy. A chemical stripper is the quickest way to remove old finishes. Follow the directions and safety instructions on the container, and use a gel or paste on vertical surfaces.

      Apply stripper             Remove residue         Clean with solvent

Steps for stripping and refinishing furniture:

  1. Apply liquid stripper to the old finish, and leave it on for the specified time.
  2. After the finish is soft, scrap off the old finish with a putty knife.
  3. Rub the surface down with steel wool or a plastic scouring pad dipped in the recommended solvent to remove the remaining finish and stripper.
  4. Sand the furniture starting with coarse grit sandpaper and working up to a fine grit.
  5. Apply a penetrating stain the piece. After a few minutes, wipe off any excess stain, and allow it to dry. Though they’re messy, rags give greater control than brushes when applying stain.
  6. Topcoat with several coats of a clear, built-up finish such as polyurethane.

Sand stripped surface         Stain furniture               Finish furniture

For more information, see our article on The Proper Approach to Refinishing Old Furniture.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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