There is nothing more annoying in the DIY furniture makeover world than removing the gross sticky residue after using a chemical stripper on wood furniture. Choice words have been said around here.
Remember back when Robert and I stripped old paint from our fireplace mantle and I was in love with the Citristrip gel we used? The fresh citrus scent makes stripping paint so much more bearable than other types of paint strippers.
Well, that relationship has run its course and after this last furniture stripping project, it’s time for a breakup. Sorry Citristrip. It’s you, not me. And just like every difficult break-up, I turned to alcohol to get me through it. Denatured alcohol that is. (Har har. Come on now, this is a family-friendly blog.)
When to Use Citristrip
Citristrip CAN be the best way to remove oil-based paint or layers of dried latex paint from a piece of furniture. But sometimes you’re left with Citristrip residue that is extra stubborn to remove after taking off an old finish.
Yesterday I posted about my mid-strip progress, or lack thereof, and I finally had to call it a day after 24 hours of scraping the stubborn gummy residue that made a complete mess and still didn’t want to budge.
Citristrip did great on latex paint before, but it was no match for 40 year old varnish.
The Citristrip label said to clean up the residue with mineral spirits, but after hours of applying, scrubbing, and a few dollars shorter later, it still wasn’t much better.
However, I won the battle! So here’s how I fixed the issue.
Makeover: Designer Knock Off No Sew Dining Chairs
Most Effective Furniture Stripper
For removing oil-based paint and varnish, use Dumond Smart Strip instead. It is a much more powerful formula than Citristrip.
Here’s a shot of the chair legs right after applying the Citristrip. I was blissfully unaware at this point. I was so mad about the gummy gunk later that I didn’t even take a picture of it. Trust me on this one; it was bad.
How to Remove Citristrip Dried Residue
I searched high and low through resource after resource to figure out the easiest way to fix the dried Citristrip disaster I created and came up with a few solutions but nothing that really worked.
Several sources I found said to try another coat or two of the varnish stripping gel. And my thoughts were “No freaking way! I can’t do it again. I need a shortcut.” (Shortcuts usually lead to more disaster when it comes to home improvement, but I proved that lesson wrong in this scenario…thankfully.)
I reached the point where I didn’t even care that the furniture still had some leftover stain and varnish. I just wanted the residue gone so that I could prime and be done with it. So if you find yourself in a gummy, gunky stripping mess like I did, here is the solution that I figured out through trial and error.
The answer to my Citristrip disaster:
Check out that beautiful gunk-free wood! Mineral spirits didn’t work. Goof off didn’t work. Goo Gone didn’t work. Sanding didn’t work. Hot water made it stickier. Additional stripper just caused a bigger mess (these chairs had a LOT of varnish).
But when I swiped on the denatured alcohol, I could almost hear angels singing. It was the best result. Saying a little prayer for patience probably helped too.
So after a good wipe down of denatured alcohol and using steel wool on the flat surfaces and a small brass wire brush to work it in the little crevices, I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel.
To be safe since there are a few varnish spots still left, I’m giving the wood a coat of oil based primer, Kilz Original.
I’ve never been so happy to take an after shot in my life.
How to Use Citristrip for Best Results
Here are some helpful tips to use Citristrip with good results next time:
- Protect your work area with a large drop cloth
- Wear protective gear such as safety glasses and chemical resistant gloves
- Apply a thick layer of Citristrip (don’t hold back)
- Cover the stripper with saran wrap and let it sit for at least 30 minutes
- Begin paint stripping with a plastic putty knife or plastic scraper
- Wipe away paint stripper residue with a paper towel or clean cloth
- Repeat the process with a second coat if needed when removing thick layers of paint
- Clean off remaining residue with odorless mineral spirits or Paint Stripper After Wash
I’m so glad to finally be done with that first step, but whenever I have a DIY fiasco happen, I have to look on the bright side that at least I learned a skill to always keep in mind for any other projects from here on out.