Alcohol is my Best Friend
Remember back when Robert and I stripped our fireplace mantle and I was in love with the Citristrip we used? 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.)
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.
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.
I searched high and low through resource after resource to figure out a solution for the 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 stripper. 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:
Denatured Alcohol! 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. Warm soapy 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. Saying a little prayer for patience probably helped too. So after a good wipe down of denatured alcohol and using 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.
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.
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