One of the most frequently asked questions when we are going to restore and renovate furniture, a door, a window or a wooden structure that was previously covered with varnishes or paints is precisely this: what will be the best way to remove the previous finishes in the wood ?.

Today we will present some techniques to remove these finishes and prepare the wood to receive a new one.

The first step is to make a state assessment where is the door, window, furniture or structure to be restored. It is necessary to establish what type of paint or varnish it has and whether the wood is healthy, that is, if it has not been attacked by fungi and insects. According to the above, we are now deciding what steps to take.

If the wood has been attacked by biological agents, we recommend reading the following article, to help you determine what the problem is and find the best way to solve it.

Don’t go crazy when it comes to quality or high-value furniture. In these cases, it is recommended to consult a specialist before making any important decision. Remember that in this type of project always start with simple challenges and gradually escalating to more complex ones as experience is gained.

Likewise, it is advisable to test each technique on small areas of the wood to see the results before starting the entire project.

Techniques for removing varnish and / or paint from wood

Sanding the surface of a wooden structure

When the furniture or structure to be restored contains a not too thick layer of varnish or enamel, and it is a smooth surface, sanding is recommended. This can be done manually with medium or medium fine sandpaper or with steel wool. Smooth and careful sanding ensures that no deep marks are left on the surface of the furniture.

If the furniture or structure is large and quite smooth, sanding with an electric sander is recommended; in this case, it is advisable to use an orbital or triangular sander.

Remove the paint layer using chemicals

Sometimes it may be necessary to remove one or more layers of paint using chemicals. These products can be toxic and irritate the skin, so before you start, it is recommended wear gloves and a mask, and apply in a sufficiently ventilated place. These products usually come in containers similar to paint or varnish. It is advisable to use a brush or bristle brush for your application.

In the application of these products, what is sought is that the paints or varnishes leave the furniture or the structure. As many layers of paint stripper must be applied as the furniture had of paint. This ensures that the old finish comes off completely.

This process can take between fifteen minutes and two hours at most, depending on the number of coats to be applied. When the bubbles start to form on the surface of the paint to be removed, it must be carefully removed with the help of a spatula.

This is a generic indication. It is always advisable to follow the manufacturer’s specifications, which depending on the manufacturer may differ from those discussed here.

Hot air gun to clean varnished or painted wood

The hot air gun is perhaps the most effective method, but it also involves taking risks, as it is easy to burn and can also cause wood burns, so it must be done carefully.

This technique aims to heat the paint or varnish until it softens. When you notice that it starts to come out, the residue must be removed with the help of a metal spatula or scraper.

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Other steps to consider

If the wood shows symptoms of attack by biological agents such as fungi or insects, it is recommended to use preventive or curative varnishes to eliminate them and prevent them from attacking the wood again.

Remember that a new finish should never be applied if we are not sure that the wood is clean of residues and healthy. Paint and varnish do not kill insects, so it should not be assumed that painting the wood will eliminate the pest problem.

Before applying a new finish, it may be interesting to use a primer or sealer. This type of product can fulfill different functions: