The first step in most refinishing jobs is to start over. Once a finish is extensively damaged, any additions to the finish will dry unsightly and likely peel. There are many different ways to remove a finish, so we’ll discuss a few different techniques.
If the finish is old and soft, there’s a good chance it’s a lacquer or shellac finish (or perhaps a combination of both). Lacquer thinner will remove aged lacquer, and denatured alcohol will remove shellac. Use a scrub brush and cloth to shed the finish, but work quickly because the chemicals will dry and re-bond the finish. If the finish is too new, the following more aggressive method may need to be used.
Paint, varnish, and stain are somewhat tougher to eliminate and require a much stronger chemical. A combination of methylene chloride, methanol, and chlorinated solvents make up industrial grade paint remover, so use it with caution. Always wear proper safety gear to avoid risks such as lung scarring, burns, and blindness.
Industrial grade paint remover at Wood Finisher’s Source comes in three different liquid intensities, as well as a paste. It is wise to match the heat of the remover with the difficulty of the job at hand to cut down on sanding time. Apply your preferred paint remover to the piece you wish to strip and allow the chemical to soak in. The tougher the finish the longer the piece will need to soak, but remember the longer it soaks the more sanding required. The soaking process can take anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours. Use a scrub brush to remove excess finish and debris after soaking. Rinse the wood with either water or lacquer thinner, and then lightly sand with a high grit sandpaper to smooth the wood and prep it for refinishing.
Commercial Grade Paint Removers Available in 5 Gal and 55 Gal:
M36 This methylene chloride remover is a non-caustic-activated stripper and is unsurpassed in performance on clear finishes while still offering good removal of most paints. Outstanding on polyurethane, catalyzed lacquers, and other modern or exotic finishes. Great stain penetration with low evaporation. Excellent for No-Dip stripping, hand-stripping, and dip tanks. No wood darkening. No “fallout” (has a long shelf-life). Use on most woods, metals, steel, and iron.
F14 This methylene chloride remover is a caustic-activated stripper and is specially formulated for outstanding performance on painted pieces while still providing good removal of clear finishes. NOTE: Caustic-activated strippers will sometimes darken wood (lighten with SRS) and have “fallout” (activator salts that precipitate out of solution); however, F-14 has a special blend of caustic activators that minimize these issues. For use in No-Dip stripping, hand-stripping, and dip tanks. Low evaporation. The best remover for cold weather stripping.
T-21 Semi-Paste For heavily painted pieces and architectural stripping. Perfect for on-site work and vertical surfaces. A water or solvent rinse, nonflammable methylene chloride remover. Hand apply and scrape off before rinsing.
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