Should I Strip or Sand Painted Furniture?

If you have a piece of painted furniture that you want to refinish, you might be wondering whether you should strip or sand it. Stripping and sanding are two different methods of removing the old paint and preparing the surface for a new finish. Both have their pros and cons, and the best choice depends on several factors, such as the type and condition of the furniture, the type and quality of the paint, the desired look and feel of the new finish, and the time and effort you are willing to invest.

The short answer is: you should strip painted furniture if the paint is thick, uneven, or peeling, and you want a smooth and durable finish. You should sand painted furniture if the paint is thin, smooth, and well-adhered, and you want a quick and easy makeover.

Stripping Painted Furniture

Stripping is the process of applying a chemical stripper to dissolve the old paint and then scraping it off with a scraper or a wire brush. Stripping is more effective than sanding for removing thick layers of paint, especially if the paint is oil-based or latex. Stripping can also reveal the natural wood grain and texture of the furniture, which can be enhanced with a stain or a clear coat.

However, stripping also has some drawbacks. Stripping can be messy, smelly, and potentially hazardous, as some strippers contain toxic or flammable ingredients. You need to wear protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator, and work in a well-ventilated area. You also need to dispose of the used stripper and the paint residue properly, following the local regulations. Stripping can also damage the wood if you leave the stripper on too long or scrape too hard. Stripping can also be time-consuming, as you may need to apply several coats of stripper and wait for it to work before removing the paint.

See also  How Tall Should Lamps Be on an End Table?

Sanding Painted Furniture

Sanding is the process of using sandpaper or a power sander to abrade the old paint and smooth the surface. Sanding is more suitable for removing thin layers of paint, especially if the paint is acrylic or chalk. Sanding can also create a distressed or aged look for the furniture, which can be appealing for some styles, such as farmhouse or shabby chic.

However, sanding also has some limitations. Sanding can be ineffective or impractical for removing thick or stubborn paint, as it can clog the sandpaper or damage the sander. Sanding can also remove too much of the wood, especially if you use a coarse grit or a heavy hand. Sanding can also create a lot of dust, which can be harmful to your health and the environment. You need to wear a dust mask and goggles, and cover the surrounding area with a drop cloth or a plastic sheet. You also need to clean up the dust thoroughly after sanding.

Conclusion

Whether you should strip or sand painted furniture depends on your personal preference and the specific situation. Stripping is more effective for removing thick or uneven paint, and creating a smooth and durable finish. Sanding is more suitable for removing thin or smooth paint, and creating a quick and easy makeover. Both methods require some preparation, tools, and safety precautions. You should also test a small area of the furniture before proceeding with the whole piece, to make sure you are happy with the results.