How do I 'strip' off a finish? Laid off and need to save money

kaisermustNovember 22, 2009

We're finally moving up to a king size bed and I've looked at both NEW finished and unfinished headboards and yikes, the cost is way more than I can afford now. Local furniture store has finished king hardwood (maple I think)headboard in scratch and dent section at a reasonable price where the damaged spots are superficial. I need Walnut finish to match the rest of my bedroom set and the headboard is finished in light cherry finish. Is it possible to "strip off" the present finish and re-stain in walnut? If so,what are the exact steps I need to take and products I should use? Headboard style is mission with a lot of slats. I realize this project may be time consuming but I have much more time on my hands now than I have many $$$ for new piece. Is this a project my feminine self can tackle on my own?

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Many of the best finishers I know are women, including four who trained me.

Yes, it is possible to strip off the existing finish -- but use a chemical stripper in a well-ventilated area. Do not try "just sanding it off," as this is time-consuming, largely ineffective, and risks damaging veneer with sand-throughs.

Once stripped, do a light sanding, apply a stain and a top coat. Maple can be tricky to stain evenly, so try a gel stain.

The easiest finish to apply is a wipe-on varnish. You can buy this ready to go (such as General Finishes Arm-R-Seal) or simply buy a brushing varnish and thin it 50-50 with mineral spirits.

Change the final number on the below link from 7 to 2 through 8 to see a number of finishing articles of relevance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Strippers

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 8:43PM
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First, I'm a big fan of mixing different finishes in decor, as long as they harmonize. I think I would be able to live with a light cherry bed in an otherwise walnut room...

Second, while that article on strippers is very helpful, in my country the chemical ingredients are not always listed, so you need to sit down in the supply store and read labels on all the products available for ease of use and clean-up. I've recently retested a bunch of strippers for removing "just" varnish-type finishes (though antique only, not sure if your modern finish would qualify), and find that the strippers deemed "safe" are doing pretty well - nice as they can be used indoors. The downside of all of them is that they require water clean-up, and not all wood structures take well to being washed. If you think that would be a problem, try something called EZWay, available by mail order. It does not require water clean-up. But for me it is a "do outside only" product as it smells.

Third, have you considered buying used, via craigslist or a local thrift/consignment/used furniture store? Especially if you're willing to tinker and perhaps refinish, you should be able to find some nice deals.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 2:29PM
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