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The Definitive Guide to Wood Stripping and Sanding

Posted on June 14, 2023

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Master Wood Refinishing with our Guide to Stripping and Sanding

Renovating your wooden surfaces, be they furniture or floors, requires knowledge of two important processes: wood stripping and sanding. This guide will walk you through each process, providing a comprehensive look at how to strip and sand wood effectively and safely.

Understanding Wood Stripping and Sanding

Wood stripping involves removing old paint or finish from a wooden surface, while sanding smooths the surface and prepares it for a new finish.

Part 1: Wood Stripping

Stripping can be a complex task, but it’s necessary when the existing paint or finish is too thick or damaged.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For wood stripping, you will need:

  1. Paint Stripper: Choose a product suitable for the type of finish you’re removing.
  2. Protective Gear: Gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator mask
  3. Paintbrush: To apply the stripper.
  4. Scraper: To remove the finish once it’s loose.
  5. Steel wool or sandpaper: for detail work
  6. Mineral spirits are used to clean the wood after stripping.

Step 2: Prepare Your Work Area

Work in a well-ventilated area and cover the surrounding surfaces to protect them from the paint stripper.

Step 3: Apply the stripper.

Apply a thick layer of the stripper with a paintbrush. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application and waiting times.

Step 4: Remove the finish

Once the finish has loosened, use a scraper to gently remove it. Use steel wool or sandpaper for crevices and detailed areas.

Step 5: Clean the wood

Clean the wood with mineral spirits to remove any residue from the stripper. Allow the wood to dry thoroughly before proceeding with sanding.

Part 2: Wood Sanding

After stripping the wood, sanding helps to remove any remaining finish, smooth the surface, and prepare it for the new finish.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For sanding, you will need:

  1. Sandpaper: Various grits, from coarse (60–80 grit) to fine (220 grit).
  2. Sanding Block or Electric Sander: Depending on the size of the project
  3. Tack cloth: to remove dust after sanding.

Step 2: Sand the wood

Start with coarse-grit sandpaper to remove any remaining finish or rough spots. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.

Step 3: Progress to Finer Grits

After the initial sanding, move to medium (100–150 grit) and then fine-grit (180–220 grit) sandpaper. Each pass with finer grits removes scratches left by the previous grit and smooths the wood further.

Step 4: Clean the wood

Use a tack cloth to remove dust after each round of sanding and before applying a new finish.


Wood stripping and sanding are vital steps in wood refinishing. While they may require time and effort, understanding these processes and executing them properly will ensure your wooden surfaces are ready for a fresh, new finish. Happy refinishing!

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