How to Strip Paint Off Wood French Style Dining Table

How to Strip Paint Off Wood: My French-Style Dining Table

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Today I’m sharing this DIY project I completed over the weekend, where I turned my black dining table into a French-style dining table.   This post will be helpful for anyone who’s interested in learning how to strip paint off wood and transform their furniture.

How to Strip Paint Off Wood

So let me just give you a little back story on this dining table. This black dining table had been around for 8 years, and had originally been purchased by my parents as a breakfast nook.

Fast forward to 2018 and the table ended up in my home, looking completely out of place.

How to Strip Paint Off Wood black dining table

When I had gone furniture shopping, I had been looking for a round dining table made of wood with a weathered appearance. I was specifically going for a French-style dining table, wanting something gray or natural-toned.

When I couldn’t find a table that I liked for less than $1500, I gave up my search and just used my parents’ hand-me-down as a temporary solution.

How to Strip Paint Off Wood black table top

How to Strip Paint Off Wood dining table base

But the table bugged me. The table shape and style were fine, but the color and matching chairs annoyed me like no other. They didn’t match the rest of my furniture at all.

So last week, I did some research online and found an article from Diane (blogger at In My Own Style) sharing how to strip paint off wood, and figured this would be my best bet at giving this dining table one last chance to impress me.

I figured that if the DIY project went wrong, I wouldn’t feel bad about getting rid of the table as I didn’t like it very much to begin with. After all, I’m fairly new to the world of DIY and had no idea what to expect.

I learned that I needed a handful of items to get my project going. The main product is obviously a paint stripper. I did a lot of research and found that Citri-strip would be my best bet, as it’s one of the safest paint strippers and has no awful fumes or scents that would make this indoor project a nightmare.

Instead, Citri-strip has a pleasant orange scent. I still kept a window and patio door open to keep fresh air flow going, but trust me, this doesn’t smell horribly bad like most chemical products do.

And while I do recommend wearing gloves when working on this project, I did get a smudge or two of Citri-strip on my hands at some point and there was no chemical burning or anything of that sort. I just rinsed it off with warm, soapy water.

How to Strip Paint Off Wood apply Citri-Strip
Applying the Citri-strip to the table

Before I share the tutorial for how to strip paint off wood, I just want to highlight some key points that I discovered as I completed this French-style dining table transformation.

  • The first is that even though many sites said leaving the Citri-strip on for up to 24 hours would make the job much easier in the end, as the paint would just practically peel away on its own in big chunks, this was not the case for me. I had a lot of stubborn paint and Citri-strip residue that didn’t want to come off after I had waited for the Citri-strip to dry (particularly with the base of my table), so I just reapplied Citri-strip to those stubborn parts and immediately scraped away to much success. .
  • The other thing I discovered is that a metal scraper is better than a plastic one. While the plastic is definitely much safer on your wood, the plastic was no match to all the gunk that was built up.
  • The other important point I want to make is to buy a lot of scouring pads if your table has grooves or rounded edges. At first, I tried using the metal scraper to scrape away the paint stripper in these areas, but it was SO exhausting and not really working. When I started using the scouring pads in these areas, it was such a breeze. Just note that you’ll need a bunch of fresh scouring pads as the pads get clogged real quickly.

scroll down for more photos

So, if you’re looking for a shopping list for this kind of project, I would recommend:

How to Strip Paint Off Wood:

  1. Place drop cloth, towels, or large pieces of cardboard underneath the entire dining table. Make sure the floor underneath the rim of your tabletop is covered as well to catch any drips. There shouldn’t been any gaps in your floor covering.
  2. If you’re stripping the paint from the base of the table, like I did, you’ll want to first start there. Apply a generous coat of Citristrip to the base and legs of the table using your chip brush.
  3. Apply a generous coat of Citristrip to the table top and edges. Let the Citristrip rest for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, use your metal scraper to scoop off the gunky paint stripper from your table top and wipe off the gunk in your metal tray or onto paper bags. If there are any stubborn areas, reapply the Citristrip with your brush onto the area, then use the metal scraper to scrape again. I didn’t wait this time between applying the stripper to those stubborn areas and actually scraping it off. The stripper seems to reactivate the dried stripper residue that won’t come off.
  5. If your table has a rounded base or nooks and crannies like mine does, this is where the scouring pads are helpful. Use the scouring pads to brush off the stripper. If your table is really dark like mine was, you’ll need to use some elbow grease to make it happen. The scouring pads clog up really quickly with the paint stripper and gunk, that’s why it’s helpful to have multiple pads. I eventually ran out, and ended up just using 1 remaining pad (which was removing the paint but also smearing it around) and followed my scraping with paper towels to wipe up the smeared residue. You can use the metal scraper for flat surfaces. Reapply Citristrip to stubborn areas and immediately try scraping again.
  6. Once you’ve removed all the paint from your table, grab a clean rag and get it slightly wet with warm water and a little soap. Use this rag to rub it all over the table, base, and legs to clean up any remaining stripper residue and neutralize your surface. Get it wet again and add more soap as needed. If you’ll be staining your table, it’s particularly important to do this step and make sure you get rid of all paint stripper residue.
  7. If there are any tough parts where the paint is being a little stubborn, you can use a sanding sponge to sand off the paint. Just be careful because if you’re keeping your wood table unstained like mine, the sanding sponge may whiten out some parts of the wood. In my case, my table was more gray than natural toned, so I had to be careful not to sand too much.

How to Strip Paint Off Wood French Style Dining Table weathered look

How to Strip Paint Off Wood French Style Dining Table

How to Strip Paint Off Wood French Style Dining Table distressed gray antique wood

I’m really happy with the way my table turned out. Is it perfect? No. But I think I can get away with it as I was going for the patina, distressed look anyways.

It was much more work that I originally anticipated, but I tried not too fuss too much with the table out of fear that I’d over-work it or over-sand it until I ruined it.

Overall, I’m happy that with about $30 worth of materials, I was able to transform this dining table into a French-style dining table that I love and am happy to have in my home.

I just ordered some slipcovers for my dining chairs, so I’ll hopefully be sharing those on the blog next week. Stay tuned!

How to Strip Paint Off Wood: a DIY tutorial sharing how I transformed my black dining table into a French-style distressed gray table. via







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  1. Hi- looks great! I have a black pottery barn oval table and chairs. I would love to do this but not sure ! How long is the process and did you do the chairs too.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Carol! This was a weekend project for me! Applying the paint stripper didn’t take long, and actually removing it from the surface of the table the next day was pretty simple. The hard part was the base because of the curved, pedestal style. I think it’s a fantastic project though for re-purposing a quality piece of furniture like that. I didn’t do the chairs knowing how difficult the base of the table was. Instead, I had originally found white slipcovers for a great price and did that. Eventually, I replaced the dining chairs.

      1. Hi Wendi, I didn’t! But that also meant I had to be careful to always use placemats, coasters, etc.

  2. After you’ve first applied the stripper, cover it with Glad Wrap and then leave it overnight. The stripper won’t ‘set’, so next day, just peel off the Glad Wrap and scrape off the gunk.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for the trip – I’ll have to give that a try if I ever do another paint stripping project! 🙂

  3. Great job! I have a similar table and matching chairs. Just curious what you did with the chairs? Not sure if I should strip them all for the same finish or possibly paint the chairs a light color.

  4. Wow what a difference! It looks amazing. That brand of stripper is my favourite to work with too. I can’t believe you did this so quickly.

  5. Hi there! This looks amazing! I was trying to follow your links for the citi-strip product, but it is no longer working. Is there any way you can update those or add on where you purchased it? I’m looking to do this to several pieces of furniture in my home.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kaitlyn! Thanks for your comment. So I didn’t actually paint or add any finish to the table. I basically just stripped the black paint off the table with the ingredients I laid out in the blog post here, and the resulting color was the natural color of the wood that was used. In regards to a finish, I left mine unfinished for the time being, but I have had people suggest using a spray matte sealer or a type of wax to protect it. For now, I’ve just been using linen placemats and been super careful with the surface. 🙂

    2. I also have a black table I do not love, but shape and size are great!! My question is was the finish you were removing original to the table or did your parents paint it? My table is pottery barn circa 2010 black, wondering if this will work.

      1. Hi Tracy! The table was black when my parents bought it; they didn’t do anything to it. Hope that helps! 🙂

    1. Hi Douglas! Great tip! I debated using the toothbrush or not, wandering if it would clog up real fast like the scouring pads, but it seems like the toothbrush would be the perfect thing for those impossible tiny spots in the table. 🙂

  6. Great job, Beeta. I have always preferred a natural finish to solid wood furniture that did not hide or lessen the visibility of the wood;s grain.. Raw wood, however, needs protection from spills of water, oils, grease, hot wax, from cuts and scratches, and from something very hot that will burn or score the surface. Depending on how exactly you’ll use the table, you may want to lightly wax it or go for a clear coat. The type of clear coat and the number of layers are factors to consider.

    Enjoy your table and than you for your interesting emails.

    1. Hi Richard! Thank you so much for the great feedback! Do you have a suggestion in regards to wax products or whatnot that would help protect the table but also preserve the look of the natural finish that I was going for? In the past, my parents had a table that was raw wood and I know we always had to be careful with having good placemats, pot holders, etc. when using it! 🙂

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