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rebecca78 08-21-2008 06:51 PM

HELP With Paint-Stripping!!
I foolishly decided to try refinishing a rocking chair myself and now am frustrated!! I have applied semi-paste paint stripper twice now and all I am left with is a VERY sticky sludge that I cannot seem to wipe clean from the wood. Not sure it is even paint? The top paint coat came right off but this underlying sludge remains. HOW DO I GET IT OFF?!? Pleeease help- this is a gift and I really want to see it through to completion. Thank you!

sirwired 08-22-2008 10:59 AM

I know this sounds silly, but does the stripper container not have cleaning directions? If not, you can try calling the manufacturer of the stripper.


Nestor_Kelebay 08-22-2008 07:09 PM


Can you tell us whether your paint stripper says anything about methylene chloride on the can. Or, does it say anything about "citrus" or does it mention "d-Limonene"?

Try applying paint stripper to the "gunk" and see if it loosens up a lot. I'm thinking it might just be that you have semi-stripped paint on your chair.

However, if that doesn't seem to do any good, it could be that the rocking chair originally had shellac or lacquer on it, and then someone painted over the shellac or lacquer with paint. In that case, the stripper would have cut through the paint, and what it would have done with shellac or lacquer thinner I don't know. It may have just formed the gunk you are fighting with now.

If your can of paint stripper says "Contains methylene chloride", then the methylene chloride will evaporate completely without leaving a residue. But, they normally would have gelled the stripper so it sticks better, and what you may be left with is that gelling agent mixed with either shellac or lacquer thinner, which are still sticking to the rocking chair.

Try lacquer thinner (which you can get at any hardware store) to clean that sludge off. If the rocking chair originally had lacquer on it, the lacquer thinner will remove it. Lacquer thinner is typically about 75% toluene, so if you can't get lacquer thinner, but they do sell toluene, then buy the toluene instead.

Shellac dissolves in alcohol. If the lacquer thinner doesn't work, buy a small quantity of denatured alcohol at your local drug store, and see if that cuts through that sludge. If it does, then that sludge was a mixture of shellac and gelling agent.

Lacquer thinner, toluene and denatured alcohol will all evaporate completely without leaving a residue. If there is any residue on your rocking chair, it will be the gelling agent that came mixed into the paint stripper. You should be able to remove by wiping down the wood with paint thinner. (The gelling agent might even be soluble in water, too.)

At least, that would be the game plan I'd follow for getting that gunk off. Methylene chloride paint stripper should remove latex paints, and more slowly true drying oil based paints, alkyd paints, and alkyd based polyurethanes, too.

slickshift 08-22-2008 07:42 PM

Though I am a hard-core DIYer and a professional painter, I hand off stripping to the specialists, for a number of reasons, one of which you see before you now

Even at this point I'd suggest dropping it off at a local strip shop

Allison1888 08-23-2008 08:34 AM

paint stripping
I wouldn't give up quite yet. We've done a lot of stripping with a gel/paste type stripper and when it gets to the gross sticky stuff, use steel wool and a little water to get it off, sometimes reapplying a little of the stripper and letting it sit for a few hours. Just takes elbow grease. Not sure if this fits your situation, but it's worth a try. (We use Multi-Strip --great stuff, but expensive)

joewho 08-24-2008 02:45 PM

This is an older chair with shellac, varnish or laquer under the paint.

The stripper won't perform the same on the underlying clear coat.

Get some more thick stripper, thin stripper, rags and steel wool, along with protective gloves.

Start with an easy area like an arm. Apply the thick stripper with a china bristle brush. Lay on some thick stripper, wait 45 seconds and then use the brush to start moving it around, purposely push the stripper with the brush as well as pulling it. The idea is to keep the stripper wet and move it arouned. After a while, you'll see it bubble. Scrape this gunk off with a drywall knife, coat it again with thick. Do the same procedure again.

When you feel that most of the gunk is gone, apply a coat of thin stripper, again, keeping it wet. After a couple minutes, wipe it off with a rag and immediately use the steel wool on the piece. This will remove the last of the stripper and make the piece dry much quicker, for sanding later.

Like nestor said, only use methylene Chloride stripper. Use a toothbrush on the corners and do them last because the stripper stays wet longer in the corners.
Hope this helps.

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