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Stripping by Hand - All You Should Know

We are all aware that stripping furniture can be quite a messy, slow and also harmful process. However, whenever someone takes up stripping as a DIY project, they have to be well equipped with knowledge, all the right tools and the best protective gear. In fact, this is the reason why most of the time people leave the stripping process to professionals. By leaving the job to professionals they involve no effort and time whatsoever in the process and that’s the most convenient option to people. 

Although, we can admit that people trying stripping at home is also a case, but in most cases it ends up in quite a tiring and failed attempt. That’s the reason why we as a paint stripping company have stripped plenty of items that were already started by the owner. In this case we have to emphasise that even though we have done our best, some of the amateur damage has been irrecuperable. That’s why sometimes we cannot guarantee for making a piece look perfect if there has been work done on it previously by someone who is not a professional. 

Therefore, if you’re interested in stripping, let’s go a bit into the topic and find out something about the processes that we do manually.

The Types of Stripping

While there are 2 different types of stripping processes - caustic and non-caustic stripping, there is also handstripping, which is either done from the very beginning with delicate or precious items, or as a process that comes after caustic and non-caustic stripping to remove the remains of paint on the wooden or metal surface. 

Caustic stripping involves dipping the items into a tank of solvent and stripping them. However, this process is done only for certain items that can handle the process, for instance pine wood which is hardwood and it can be stripped caustically. Other wood types, such as timber, require non-caustic stripping because of the discolouration and wood damage that can happen. With non-caustic stripping, the stripping agent is applied on the item and the paint is stripped afterwards.

So, most of the time even though chemicals do their job well, without proper manual work, the stripping process won’t be successful. Also, we have to mention that besides the process of stripping, before applying a wax finish or paint, the item has to be thoroughly cleaned and sanded. These two processes are done by hand. Paying attention to the slightest corners of an object is essential and using the tiniest tools to provide a quality stripped object.

Dipping as a Way of Stripping Items VS Non-Caustic Stripping

The cheapest way and probably the easiest way to strip doors is to get them dipped. Dipping or caustic stripping is basically putting the doors into a chemical, caustic solution for the paint to start coming out. When taken out, they are power washed and dried. Later, the items are being sanded, cleaned and finished.

However, even though caustic stripping or dipping is very popular and common, there are some factors that you should bear in mind before starting the dipping process: 

  • Not all woods respond well to caustic stripping. While pine wood can be stripped really well, oak, beech, elm and walnut when dipped can come out a different shade to their original. To avoid discolouration, we recommend non-caustic stripping. 
  • Doors that have plywood or veneer panels shouldn’t be dipped because caustic stripping can cause these materials to warp and in the case of veneers, the glue holding the layers together to dissolve.
  • The dipping process wouldn’t remove stains because they can penetrate deep into the wood and would require additional handwork to be removed. 
  • Acrylic or water-based paints need to be handstripped always since caustic stripping cannot remove them. 
  • Dipping doors with glazed panels is inconvenient, leading to a great risk of damage. It’s always recommended to remove the glass whenever a door is being dipped.
  • The furry and uneven finish that items have on top after caustic stripping has to be smoothed by sanding and then they can be finished. The non-caustic stripping is done by hand and it leaves the wood in a better shape after stripping. 
  • With the caustic process of stripping, it can happen for small areas of paint to remain. Some of the most crucial parts are corners and decorative panels. This is because there is not much manual work included in this process compared to non-caustic stripping and handstripping.

Why Is Stripping Important?

If you have historic or old furniture, then keeping it in a good shape is essential to prolong its life cycle. Whenever you want to keep it for yourself, or even sell it, you should keep its original shape and shine as much as you can. 

Stripping plays an important part in preserving your furniture and keeping its value. The process of stripping is refreshing for the old wooden item, reducing the load of paint over it and also adding a preserving layer of wax or oil. Also, some items can look better stripped than new because in this case you are choosing the finish and hardware to match your interior. You can always buy unfinished wooden items as well, especially doors that can be customized according to your choice. 

So, we can say that undoubtedly, an item that has been stripped every once in a while will have a higher value and a prolonged lifespan compared to an item that hasn’t been stripped at all.