Refinishing our kitchen table: Stripping the table top


I had heard great things about the product Strip-eeze, but our Home Depot doesn’t carry it. Instead, I bought the same orange can of stripper I bought last time. For those of you following along at home in hopes of repeating this process (really? maybe you should go back and read the first post in this series), at this stage I had available:

  • 1 can Klean-Strip gel stripper (orange can)
  • 1 pair gloves made out of stuff I hoped wouldn’t disintegrate when exposed to stripper
  • 1 metal paint pan
  • 1 paint brush for applying stripper
  • 1 metal-bladed putty knife
  • Sand paper, coarse and fine
  • 1 electric hand sander (the kind that let’s you cut rectangles of sandpaper to fit)
  • 1 can mineral spirits (used to rub down the furniture after it’s been stripped and sanded)
  • 1 tarp (to protect my work surface)
  • 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads

Per the instructions, I used my paint brush to shellac the table in stripper. Let me say that it’s a good thing I’m a thorough person. I mean, if I hadn’t previously gone to the effort of priming my table, I would have only had to remove a single coat of black, devil enamel. Instead, I got to experience the gradual unveiling of the underlying finish of my table in several delightful stages: black and primer gray; primer gray and oak with black streaks; and finally oak with minor streaks of primer gray that I’m hoping won’t affect how well the stain is absorbed.

IMG_0021 IMG_0023

After the second round of applying stripper, waiting, and scraping, I was disheartened to see that my table still had large streaks of black paint and gray primer all over it. Chad convinced me to take the sander to it (coarse grain) to see how much of it would come up (I was convinced I’d have to sand through the top to get rid of it). Note that this is the one stage of the process that actually looked fun enough for Chad to want to try, which is why I’m the one snapping the photo of him doing the “work” (P.S. any work that can be done with a glass of wine in one hand is awesome and not really work).

IMG_00221 IMG_0025

I’m not the most patient person, so waiting the prescribed 10 minutes (15? 25? oh, whatever) before scraping off stripper was a real challenge. Due to my impatience, I went through a small can of stripper on just the table top itself and had to go back to Home Depot to buy a second (larger) can for the table leaves. I thought I’d outsmart myself by buying a different, more expensive version of the stripper I’d used before, this one boasting of color-changing properties (the idea being that once the stripper changes color, it’s ready to be scraped off). Being a fan of anything that seems scientifically likely to improve my odds for success, I bought the large can of this miracle stripper. As you can see from the photos below, this was a monumentally bad idea.

IMG_0027 IMG_0026

What the product claims to do is change color to indicate when it’s time to scrape it off. And I guess it does change color because liquids with a suspension of lightly-colored particles tend to get lighter in color as the water in them evaporates. What this means is that you then have a thick layer of dry, light blue, chalky stuff to scrape off along with your paint. I was so infuriated with the terrible-ness of this product that I fished the sales receipt out of the garbage can out from under a layer of coffee grounds and returned it to the store. I’m back to the cheap(er) orange-can stripper I was using before. (As I mentioned before, the table leaves were never painted — only primed — which is why you don’t see any of the black streaks you saw on the pictures of the table top.)

3 thoughts on “Refinishing our kitchen table: Stripping the table top”

  1. I commend you on your efforts. The black paint layer may have been too much for me to contemplate removing. Knowing me, I’d have taken to sewing really fancy table cloths instead. Good luck with your new paint job. I look forward to seeing the results. (and the progress.)

  2. On a side note: I am totally going to buy a can of “Stripper” to take to the next bridal shower / bachelorette party I attend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *