How to Strip Veneer Furniture

Stripping veneer furniture is a critical skill for those seeking to breathe new life into their cherished pieces or give them a fresh, updated look. Veneer furniture, with its elegant wood-grain patterns, provides an affordable and stylish option for interior decor. However, as time passes, the veneer may deteriorate, become discolored, or accumulate layers of old finishes.

How to Strip Veneer Furniture

Stripping is an essential step in the process of restoring veneer furniture, as it effectively removes these imperfections and prepares the surface for refinishing.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps and techniques for how to strip veneer furniture efficiently and safely. Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or a DIY enthusiast embarking on a furniture restoration project, our comprehensive instructions and valuable tips will ensure that you achieve professional-level results, allowing you to transform your veneer furniture into a piece that shines with renewed beauty and charm.

What is Veneer Furniture?

Veneer furniture has been used for centuries and is still popular today. It’s a type of furniture made from thin layers of wood, called veneers, that are glued over a solid core. Veneer furniture can be stained or painted to look like a solid piece of wood, but unlike solid wood it can be crafted using less expensive woods. Veneer furniture is usually more affordable and lighter weight than solid wood furniture.

Stripping veneer furniture involves removing the finish on the surface in order to restore or refinish it. This process can be time-consuming but is an important part of maintaining your veneer furniture, as well as transforming its look if desired.

Reasons for Stripping Veneer Furniture

thin layers of wood

Stripping veneer furniture can be a great way to give new life to an old piece of furniture. Stripping the wood will remove any layers of aged paint or varnish, allowing you to apply a fresh coat and revitalize the look of your piece. It also allows you to reveal the true beauty of the wood beneath, revealing interesting grains and patterns that may have been hidden beneath years of paint and varnish.

Stripping veneer furniture is also a great way to repair any damage that may have been done to the surface over time. Many pieces of furniture suffer from dings, scratches, and gouges that can be difficult or impossible to sand out. Stripping the entire piece will help you to even out these areas, giving the piece a uniform appearance.

10 Steps How to Strip Veneer Furniture

1. Prepare the Work Area

Before you begin stripping your veneer furniture, it is important to prepare a well-ventilated work area. Make sure that the area is clean and free of any debris or dust. You should also wear protective clothing such as gloves, a face mask, and safety glasses.

2. Test for Lead Paint

If you are working with an older piece of furniture, it is important to test for lead paint before you begin stripping the veneer. To do this, purchase a lead testing kit from your local hardware store and follow the instructions on the package. If you find that there is lead paint present, contact a professional for assistance in safely removing it.

3. Remove Hardware

The next step is to remove all of the hardware from your furniture such as knobs, hinges, and screws. This will make it easier to access areas that need to be stripped later on in the process. Place all of the hardware in a safe place where you can easily find it when needed again later on.

4. Sand Down Veneer

 Remove All of the Hardware

Using an electric sander or sandpaper, gently sand down the surface of the veneer in order to remove any existing finish or sealant on top of it. Be sure to use light pressure when sanding so that you do not damage or scratch the wood underneath. Once done, use a vacuum cleaner or cloth to remove any dust particles created by sanding before continuing with further steps.

5. Apply Stripper

Once you have prepped your work area and removed all of the hardware from your veneer furniture, it’s time to apply a stripper in order to remove any remaining finish or sealant on top of it. Use a brush or roller to apply an even coating over the entire surface and let sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping off with a cloth or rag until all residue has been removed completely from each section of wood being worked on at once.

6. Scrape Away Excess

Once all of the stripper has been wiped away with a cloth or rag, use an old kitchen knife or putty knife to scrape away any excess residue that may still remain stuck onto sections of wood being worked on at once – scraping in one direction only! Be sure not to press too hard while scraping so as not to scratch up underlying layers beneath the surface being worked on at once or accidentally during this step!

7. Rinse With Water

After all excess residue has been scraped away from each section of wood being worked on at once – rinse off the entire piece thoroughly with warm water using either sponge/rag/cloth until no more visible signs remain left behind from previous steps taken during this process either! This will help ensure that no traces whatsoever are left behind which could potentially cause damage down the line if left unchecked afterward too!

Use an Old Kitchen Knife

8. Sand Again

Once everything has dried up properly after rinsing with water – use an electric sander/sandpaper (depending upon the type/size project) and lightly sand down the entire surface again until a smooth texture is achieved throughout the whole piece once more too! Make sure to take extra care around the edges/corners when doing so so as not to risk damaging delicate areas accidentally during this step!

9. Apply Finish

Once finished sanding down the entire piece – apply the desired finish (stain/varnish/paint) evenly across the whole area using a brush/roller depending upon preference desired outcome-wise afterward too! Allow plenty of time to dry properly between coats applied if multiple ones are needed to achieve the desired effect afterward too!

10. Reattach Hardware

Lastly – reattach any hardware originally removed earlier process back onto the piece securely making sure everything is firmly attached before putting it back into service again afterwards too! This will ensure everything stays in place without issue long-term usage-wise afterward as well!

Things to Consider When Stripping Veneer Furniture

When stripping veneer furniture, it is important to consider a few factors before beginning the process.

First, make sure you are dealing with an actual veneer surface and not solid wood. Veneers will have a thin layer of paper-thin material adhered to the surface, while solid wood surfaces will be smooth and thick when touched or observed.

Second, keep in mind that some veneers are more durable than others and will not strip as easily. Mahogany and walnut veneers are thicker, harder, and have a finer grain pattern. These types of veneers will likely require the use of more powerful stripping agents to remove them successfully.

Third, be sure to use a stripping agent specifically formulated for the material you are dealing with. Many different types of veneers require a specific type of product or combination of products to remove them safely and effectively.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When stripping veneer furniture, it’s essential to remember a few key tips and tricks to ensure you don’t damage the wood underneath. Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:

Using a Chemical Stripper
  • Not Wearing Protective Gear – Always wear protective gloves, safety goggles, and an apron or long-sleeve shirt when stripping your veneer furniture.
  • Stripping Too Much – Be careful not to strip too much wood away as this can be difficult to repair. Take your time and work in small, circular motions until you have achieved the desired results.
  • Using Abusive Chemicals – Avoid using abrasive chemicals when stripping veneer, as these can damage the underlying wood. Stick to using a chemical stripper or sandpaper.
  • Not Sanding – After stripping your veneer furniture, it’s essential that you go over the surface with fine grade sandpaper in order to smooth out any rough edges and remove any residues from the chemical stripper.
  • Applying Finish Too Soon – When refinishing your veneer furniture, be sure to give the wood ample time to dry before applying a finish. Applying the finish too soon can cause the wood to crack and warp over time.

With careful attention and patience, you can successfully strip your veneer furniture and bring it back to life. Taking your time and following these tips will help ensure that you achieve professional-looking results.


To sum up, when attempting to strip veneer furniture, it is important to consider several factors beforehand. The ingredients used to strip the veneer will largely depend on the type of finish, as well as quality of the furniture that you have.

Consider if you want to use chemical or physical methods to get your desired result. In most cases, a combination of both is best and it is also crucial to keep in mind safety precautions when dealing with the chemicals.

Lastly, ensure that you also protect yourself and your surroundings from any potential harm with protective gear and masks before tackling this project. Now that you know how to strip veneer furniture, grab some protective gear and have a go at redecorating!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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