Friday, August 26, 2011


Get your heads out of the gutter- I am not talking about taking my clothes off.  Rather, I took sometime off in June and spent the whole time in my garage trying to strip down a dresser.

To properly frame this adventure, we must go back to my days in high school.  My parents were fairly awesome in that they let us all paint and decorate our rooms however we wanted.  For me that meant dark purple walls with lime green trim AND a mural of a sun on the ceiling.  Looking back, I am fairly certain that this gave my dad a nervous tick and may still account for why he is a little odd...

When Seth and I moved to Greensboro, my mom was kind enough to give me my dresser, which I had painted lime green.  I am fairly certain she just didn't want that in her house anymore.  So for a few years, this has sat in my house.
Lovely right?  Seth was beyond thrilled when I proposed stripping this bad boy down and giving him (her?) a nice coat of dark pretty stain.  And so the adventure begins...

I started by moving everything out to the garage and removing the little knobs.  Its worth mentioning that when I originally painted this thang that I wasn't smart enough to remove the hardware first, so some of those knobs were a bit painted on stuck.

In doing some stripping/Lowe's research, I determined that chemical strippers were the way to go.  However, not wanting to kill myself, I went with a water based more eco friendly stripper.
In my naivety, I figured that this would be an easy project.  Dump stripper on, let it sit, remove and  move on.  Well, that wasn't the case.  After just one coat of stripper, I realized I was in for some real fun.
Progress?  Almost none.  So a second coat it was...
Progress?  Negligible.  Onto a third coat...
Hmmm...  Still not so good.
Finally some progress.  But not really enough for my liking.  I think part of the problem was the temperature.  The stripper recommends only trying to use it if the temperature is between 65 and 85.  Seeing as this was NC in June, the temperature was above 85 and the stripper would dry before it could really be effective. 

So, I busted out my sander....
MUCH BETTER!  So, I sanded the whole damn thing.  I also started getting pissed off, so there are no pictures of the process.

Once I had everything nice and sanded, I gave the whole thing a nice wipe down with a barely damn rag.  With my surface ready to go, it was just a matter of staining.  Two coats did the trick.  And with a quick trip to Target for some new knobs, this baby had a new lease on life...
Not too shabby, eh?

A couple quick notes on stripping-
  • I recommend skipping the messy chemical strippers altogether.  In the end, my sander was way more effective and left me with a better work surface.  You can pick up a cheap little hand sander from Lowes, or the likes, for around $20-$30.  Not bad considering chemical strippers will run you around $10 a bottle and you'll need multiple bottles.
  • Due to beginning with chemical strippers and the cheap nature of this dresser, my prepared surface was still not 100% perfect, so there are some obvious flaws if you get close enough.  But considering that this is the guest bedroom and we already had it, both Seth and I are totally pleased with the results.
  • If you have a true family heirloom, I recommend hauling that baby to a professional.  They will do an A+ job of carefully and precisely stripping her down, so that you can get back to where you want her.
So without further ado, how about a comparison...

Anybody else tackle any crazy projects this summer?

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