Stuck with a painted piece but now want to change it? Find out which of these paint strippers, Kiwk-Strip or Citristrip, was the winner for removing the paint off this secretary desk.
Lets say you gave painting furniture a try but you don‘t like how it turned out, changed your mind on the color, or you just simply regret painting it to begin with? Well no need to worry! There’s a solution for that! I tested out two paint strippers to see which one worked best. Now before you run off and paint a piece make sure to check out 4 Things To Consider Before Painting Furniture it’s so important to do some prep work before you get started to avoid any problems later.
This is what happened to my client when she painted this desk. There was a ton of bleed through, drips, and after painting it white, she decided she wanted it a different color. This was a great opportunity to test out some paint strippers.
Now, before we begin its important to know that every piece of furniture is different and so that means the approach will be different. Instead of stripping the paint off you can sand it too. Just because furniture was previously painted doesn’t mean it needs to be stripped. I would recommend stripping if they’re multiple layers of paint or you want to get the piece back to its original wood. You don’t always have to sand down to the wood if you plan on painting over it. Just sand enough to smooth and prime and paint over it. I wasn’t familiar with the chalk paint my client used so I decided to strip it so that I can properly prep it and get the best finish.
Before sanding or stripping any furniture that was previously painted make sure to check that the paint is lead free. Especially if its an old piece and are not sure what paint was used. You can test the paint for lead and take the proper precautions and be sure to wear gloves, a mask, and goggles when stripping furniture (I’m not always good with this😬).
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It was my first time using Kwik-Strip. I have heard great things about it so I was excited to see what the rave was about.
Goof Off Pro Strength Remover
I’ve used this Goof Off to remove paint and glue off of windows and it was awesome. I wasn’t sure if I should have included it to strip paint off of this piece but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I wanted to see how well it removed paint off wood.
I have used Citristrip before with some success. I didn’t immediately fall in love with it when I tried it a few years ago but I wanted to give it another try.
Disclaimer, stripping paint off furniture is time consuming and very messy so be prepared to do some work!
I tapped the areas off and started applying each stripper on its own section and applied each product based on the directions stated on the container.
I knew I couldn’t compare the Goof Off to the other paint strippers but I just wanted to see how it did anyway. As you can see in the photo above it did remove the paint, however, based on the directions it would have taken way too long to rub all the paint off. You apply it to a cloth then blot or rub lightly. It did work great on the key hole cover.
I would recommend Goof Off to remove paint or adhesive off small areas but not an entire piece of furniture. It works great to remove paint or adhesives on metal or glass. Be warned, it does remove a lot of the varnish off wood. If you are using Goof Off on wood you may have to rewax the wood to get some gloss back. You’ll notice a little later that this particular section I used the Good Off on is lighter then the rest of the piece.
So lets put the Goof Off aside and focus on these two paint strippers, Kwik-Strip and Citristrip.
I purchased one quart of each and the prices weren’t very different. The Kwik-Strip was $14.98 and the price for the Citristrip was $12.98 at Lowes Home Improvement. They do have the 1 quart of Citristrip on Amazon for $11.72.
Citristrip did have more options for smaller and bigger containers and had better prices then Kwik-Strip. This is important to consider if you ever decide to strip a big piece of furniture. You can get more bang for your buck by getting a bigger container instead of buying multiple.
Application & Instructions
I shook both paint strippers well and poured a small amount in a bowl. Applied a thick layer of both of the products using an old paint brush and waited per the directions.
The Kwik-Strip says that its ready in 15min and so I tried removing the paint after 15min. Most of it came off but if you notice in the photo above the edges didn’t come off that easily. The directions on the back do say to test scrape after 15min but I would leave it and wait longer anyway. It did easily come off after waiting around 30min and test scraping then.
The Citristrip suggested leaving it on and test scraping after 30min. I waited 30min and it came right off. I also like that the instructions says for difficult spots use saran wrap. It allows the product to stay wet even longer and it’s easier to come off. Also, Citristrip changed their formula so now the gel stays wet longer and doesn’t dry up. This was interesting to see because when I first used this product it did tend to dry a little faster. This time I could see the difference.
Regardless of both products I learned that being patient is really the key to stripping paint. The longer you leave it on the easier the paint will come off.
Pros & Cons
- You can immediately see the paint lifting after 10min
- It claims it removes varnish and it did! You can see the difference in the photo below. The left side was the Kwik-Strip and the Citristrip is on the far right. The Kwik-Strip was able to remove more varnish then the Citristrip.
The spot in the middle is the Goof Off that I mentioned before. It removed a ton of the varnish and it remained lighter then the rest of the piece before priming it.
- The smell was very strong! I needed to make sure I kept my garage door open and wearing a mask was a must (even though you should always be wearing a mask) I just couldn’t get over how strong the smell was! Definitely would not be able to use this indoors if I wanted to.
- Not a lot of size options.
- More expensive then Citristrip
- Price was slightly cheaper then the Kwik-Strip. Especially the bigger sizes
- Available in a variety of sizes
- The smell was very pleasant. It did not smell like a chemical at all. It had a nice citrus smell
- Did not dry out
- Really thick coat needed to be applied. I applied thick coats of both but the Citristrip required a thicker coat.
- Although it did remove some of the varnish it didn’t remove it as well as the Kwikstrip did.
The winner for me was the Citristrip. Even though both paint strippers removed the paint easily I just couldn’t get over the strong smell from the Kwik-Strip. The Citristrip smells really nice and leaving it wrapped in saran wrap for a couple of hours really did the trick. Overall, both products work really well and I would recommend both, but for this particular project the Citristrip worked best. Want to see the final look of the piece I stripped? Keep reading for other products used and the final look!
Now because the Citristrip remained wet for a longer period of time I did find that cleaning the piece after was tricky. You need to let it dry completely after removing all of the Citristrip. I cleaned it with Mineral Spirits and let that dry before cleaning it well with dish soap and water.
Now it was time for the fun part! Painting! I mixed BBFrosch paint transformer with a sample of Sherwin Williams Revel Blue. This was after just one coat! The first coat is always so scary but keep going! I promise its worth it and it’ll look amazing after a second coat!
My client wanted a touch of gold so I did the legs and a small detail on the inside using Shabby Chic Chalked Furniture Paint in the color Antique Gold.
I then waxed the entire piece using Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in the Natural tone.
And here is the final look! A beautiful secretary desk/bar! I love when a piece has multiple uses!