I am going to walk you through the basics of removing paint from a piece. It's simple. But it's the attention to detail in the simplicity that can make all the difference. You will find the full details and gallery of The Vintage Arizona Vanity here.
Before The Transformation
So before I started with this piece, it was pretty evident that this vintage vanity had some work done before I got my hands on it. It had a pretty heavy coat of jet black paint, thicker in some parts more than others. If you look at the base of the vanity, you will see the original wood color. Removing the black paint would be quite an undertaking because of the previous heavy application of paint.
If you want a lasting finish and professional look, it's important to strip your furniture piece of it's paint completely before you apply a different color. A piece that hasn't been prepped correctly can usually stick out like a sore thumb. So if you want a piece that looks more Joanna Gaines and less those failed Pinterest DIY projects (believe me, I've been there too, plenty of times), keep reading!
Step 1: Prep
For the most effective results, before you begin, you'll want to prep your piece. This means removing drawers and hardware, vacuuming throughout to remove any cobwebs or hidden critters, and cleaning the surface.
My favorite product to use for cleaning off the surface of all my furniture to prep for either paint or stain is Mineral Spirits. I usually save old cotton shirts and rip them up into rags for this part of the process, as it works perfectly for this type of job. Taking the time to do this prep step allows for the best results.
Step 2: Application
After cleaning off my furniture, I apply Citristrip using a disposable paint brush in a thin to medium even coat. For applying Citristrip or stain, I usually use cheap Dollar Store paintbrushes. Quality of brush isn't important for this type of step. You'll get 3 paintbrushes for $1.00 at the Dollar Store.
You'll want to work in small sections as the Citristrip/paint combo becomes harder to remove after it has been sitting for too long. (This is more so the case when using Citristrip to remove paint versus stain). Thirty minutes is the sweet spot I have found for removing paint optimally.
Step 3: Scrape
Now this is the fun part. With a 6-in-1 Painter's tool (I like this one), you'll want to hold your painter's tool perpendicular to the surface at a slight angle so that you are able to scrape away the paint. Some people use joint knifes for this task but I prefer the Painter's tool because I feel like it's stronger than a putty knife but weaker than a joint knife where I have the potential of nicking my wood. (I am using a putty knife in the video which worked fine for this particular piece.)
I also usually have a paint pail or shallow box nearby so that I am able to scrape the newly removed paint into it for an easy and fast process. I'll have to say, this step of the process is oddly satisfying. Yes, it does take a while as you apply Citristrip, wait 30 min, scrape, and repeat, but when it comes to scraping, it is instant satisfaction which is the best part!
Side note: If after one round of applying Citistrip and scraping doesn't get the job done, you'll want to go for round 2, and try it again until all layers of paint are removed.
Step 4: Sand
Sanding is one of the key steps here because without sanding your furniture, your paint will not have a porous surface to grab onto. Consequentially allowing your paint to chip with perhaps even the smallest of bumps. So after removing your paint with Citristrip, you'll want to let the surface completely dry overnight before going at it with your 60 to 90 grit sandpaper.
If you are re-painting your surface, you will not need to sand down to bare wood, just enough for a rough surface. But if you will be refinishing with a stain, go ahead and sand down until you reach the original wood. Sander Beware: this will take a LONG time.
For this particular vanity I had to sand by hand using my sanding sponge around grooves and small detail but was able to use my orbital sander for the top and sides where the surface area was a lot greater.
Congratulations you have now learned how to successfully remove that thick ugly paint from your furniture piece! Now go ahead and give it a try! Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you have found better ways to do any of these steps!