Paint Stripping: Getting down to your birthday suit
One of my favorite things to do is to hunt through thrift stores/garage sales. I literally love finding cool shit. Who doesn’t. There are a lot of furniture pieces that just need a revamp. With a creative idea and some time and attention, most things can be transformed.
I had come across this beautiful mid century modern chair at a thrift store; I know, jumping on that MCM train. It had great bones. I was really drawn to it and could easily change the painted legs. I am a wood lover. In most cases I have a real distaste for painted wood. I know it has come into popular fashion these days, every beautiful piece of antique furniture is white washed but I really try and revive the wood if at all possible. This chair is a nice small scale paint stripping project. An $11 chair, a few products, and some elbow grease.
I liked this brown vinyl on the seat so I only changed the legs. There are many different paint strippers available. I went with Klean Srip, Strip-X Stripper. It works in less than 30 minutes and is a gel consistency. Since I was stripping a cylindrical piece I made sure to go with a gel stripper, that had more body, so that it didn’t just run right off the legs. I always wear gloves when working with paint strippers. You do not want to get these harsh chemicals on your skin. I painted the stripper on with a foam throw away brush and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. The paint starts to bubble from the wood. I used a plastic scraper to scrape off the loose paint. Metal scrappers can gouge the wood surface.
With many projects a second coat of paint stripper is needed. While applying the second coat of paint stripper I decided I wanted to keep some of the blue paint remaining in my final piece. So I went over the entire thing with a steel wool pad but wasn’t concerned with removing every inch of paint. I wanted to keep some of the worn down paint for stylistic purposes. I feel like it adds dimension and history to this chair; a unique subtle touch.
Once I got the chair to the level of clean I was looking for, I made sure to get all excess chemical stripper with a wet towel. I let the chair dry out in the sun then sanded down the entire piece with 150 grit sandpaper. This leveled out any paint that I left behind and got the wood prepped for stain.
I chose a dark walnut stain that I whipped on two coats with a cut up old t-shirt. Literally never throw away cotton t-shirts. They work great for staining projects. I applied one coat and let it dry overnight then applied the second. It is important to give the stain time to dry to see its true color. Wet stain can be very deceiving. So in the morning light I decided that two coats would do the trick for the effect that I was looking for. I wanted to be able to see the dark blue paint remnants but I did not want them to be incredibly prominent and the focal point. I wanted it to blend in but stand out on a second glance. That is why the dark walnut stain was perfect. I finished off this chair with a few coats of spray polyurethane and I was done.
This thrift store find was stripped down and given a funky new face. It didn’t feel right to take this one all the way down to the bone and build it back up. I wanted to leave some of that playfulness the blue paint was intending. MCM furniture is clean and simple in aesthetics but this piece has a rustic element that gives it livability. I’m happy with that.