How to Strip Painted Furniture

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Usually, I’m allllll about painted furniture, but more and more I am drawn to the simplicity and warmth of raw wood.  So what to do if you already own the piece of furniture, but wish it were back to it’s basic, natural look again? Let me show you how I strip painted furniture!

This particular piece is one of my prized possessions.  Back before we had kids, we were visiting my husband’s aunt who has ultra modern taste.  As we were getting ready to leave, we were standing in her garage.

My husband and her were talking about cars and I was kind of glazing over when I spotted the arm of this beautiful church pew.  It was covered with old coats and looking really out of place with her standard decor.

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I, of course, started freaking out about how beautiful this bench was!  She announced that is was about to be taken to the dump (gasp!) and one thing led to another.  Next thing I knew I was the proud owner of this stunning church pew.

Over the years, it has received several coats of paint and has been staged as the focoal point wherever we live.  But, I was ready to go back to a simplier, earthy finish and really show off the wood grain.

Here are the before from last summer, it was this wanna-be-wood tan color.

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And here she is all cleaned up with a fresh coat of clear furniture wax!

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How to Strip Painted Furniture




  • First, sand down as many areas as you can with either the grinder, sander or sand paper.
    • You can watch a couple of clips here and here, showing how fast it went on our bench.
    • If you don’t want to sand, this post by Beckwith’s Treasures may be helpful.
  • Next, use Strypeeze and the scraper tool or steel wool dipped in water to strip paint from any areas that the sander couldn’t get to.
    • This is were you will feel your patience developing.;) But, hang in there!

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  • Scrub everything down with water and steel wool. Wipe up mess with a rag.
  • Then, use a rag and paint thinner to get the last of the remains cleaned up.
  • Let the furniture dry, I leave mine next to the fire overnight.
  • Sand all the surfaces with 220 grit sand paper to polish it up and wipe all the dust off with a rag.
  • Finally, finish it all by sealing with a clear (or another color) furniture wax.  It should have the most velvety finish as this point!

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So, while stripping paint from furniture is definitely more difficult than just merely painting a piece, it is worth all the extra effort if you really love the look of raw wood!  With some sanding, paint stripper and a lot of patience, you can get the look you want.


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    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      February 18, 2018 / 7:00 PM

      I know, I thought the same thing! But it’s under a covered porch so I think it’s okay.

  1. Amanda
    February 14, 2018 / 6:42 PM

    It’s beautiful! But I’m curious about the choice to use wax on a piece that’s used outside….I’ve always heard not to do that. Have you done this before and had it work? I use a lot of wax to avoid the VOCs in poly, but haven’t decided what to use on my outdoor pieces. Would be thrilled to know if this works for you!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      February 18, 2018 / 7:10 PM

      Amanda, I have heard the same thing! Do you see the green step stool on the porch? That has been out there at least a year with only the wax to seal it. Apparently the porch is covered enough because I haven’t had any problems with that piece. I think it really depends on how much covering the piece gets from the elements. I am planning on rewaxing every year or two, I’ll have to keep everyone updated here.

      • Amanda
        February 18, 2018 / 7:36 PM

        Good to know – thank you!

  2. February 17, 2018 / 3:53 PM

    This beyond beautiful! There’s nothing more gorgeous than old wood grain in my opinion, so I’m always thrilled when people let that beautiful wood shine. Thank you for this tutorial!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      February 18, 2018 / 7:13 PM

      That means a lot to me, thank you for your kind words!

  3. February 19, 2018 / 3:24 PM

    It is gorgeous. I am seriously considering doing this to a coffee table I have.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      February 19, 2018 / 7:05 PM

      Oh, that’s so exciting! Let me know if you do, I love hearing from readers about projects that they started because of a blog post here.

  4. February 22, 2018 / 3:37 PM

    These are some awesome tips! And that gorgeous pew makes me want one of my own!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 13, 2018 / 6:03 PM

      Thanks, Jen! Yes, if you ever find one grab it, it’s such a heirloom piece.

  5. Martha Mackey
    April 26, 2018 / 6:42 AM

    I’ve kind of lost my mojo lately, and you have totally inspired me! Beautiful work.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 26, 2018 / 8:54 AM

      Oh yes, that happens for me, too. I’m so happy you were able to get your second wind! xoxo

  6. October 17, 2018 / 5:34 AM

    Hmmm, we just picked up a pew to use in our ‘being built as I write’ new entrance. I was going to strip the finish and stain it dark, we’re in an old stone gothic farmhouse and I’ve always thought light wood looked out of place but this is so pretty.

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