How to Remove Polyurethane from Wood

By elamon | Band Saw Basic

Aug 03

Polyurethane on wood gives it a glossy, durable finish - it makes the wood super attractive. When it comes to polyurethane, there are two types of formulas available. It comes in both water and oil based formulas. The oil-based polyurethane has properties that make them resistant to alcohol, water, and acids. The water-based polyurethane on the other hand, is not resistant to acids and alcohols. Although the oil based type has more resistance, it tends to leave behind a yellow coloration as it ages.

Irrespective of the type of polyurethane you used, once their service life is exhausted, it is always best you remove them. In this article, we are going to be looking at the steps on removing polyurethane from your wood.

Materials You Will Need:

· Chemical paint

· Varnish remover/stripper

· Sandpaper (120 grits or 220 grits)

· Scraper (3-inches)

· Gloves

· Paintbrush

· Bucket

· Safety goggles


Wear Your Protective Gears

The first and foremost thing to do since you have made up your mind to remove the polyurethane is to wear your gears. Your safety goggles and gloves are very important for this technique.

Read Through the Instructions

We are going to assume this is your first time attempting to remove polyurethane from wood. In that case, you should read the instructions on the varnish remover and chemical paint to be acquainted with the measurements.

Apply the Varnish Stripper

With the aid of the paintbrush, gently apply the varnish stripper on the wood. The layer of thickness should be such that would not dry out in about 10 minutes. The best way to do this is by taking one small area at a time. Work in an area you can easy access and have control over.

Use Plastic Scrapper to Remove Varnish

With the stripper set in about 10 minutes, use a plastic scrapper to remove the varnish. It is advisable to use a plastic stripper to avoid causing damage to your wood lying underneath. After this, you would need to clean out the surface. To this end, make use of a clean, wet rag. You can get information on how best to do this from the instructions on the chemical paint. To avoid over wetness of the wood, use a dry rag to clean out the wetness you just made.

Repeat the Above Process

You remember you only applied the above steps to a small wooded area. You would need to repeat these processes for other areas of the wood needing polyurethane removal. You do not want to be in a hurry and rush things. When you are done with the entire wood surface, you hope to remove the polyurethane, move on to the next stage.

Make Use of the Sandpaper

Usually, as you are proceeding with the steps above, the addition of liquid could cause some grain formation on the surface. To remove these grains, you will need either the 120 grits or 220 grits or a combination of the two. If you want to apply a new layer of finish, you should make sure there are no grains left on the surface.

Tips on How to Get the Best Polyurethane Removal

Keep It Dry

The best way to remove the polyurethane with ease is when the wood is completely dry when you are using the sand paper.

Always Be Safety Conscious

Just like any other woodwork exercises, you need to ensure you protected. It is paramount that you always wear your safety glasses when in the workshop. It will help protect you from flying wood shavings and chemicals from entering your eyes.

Wear a Dust Mask

Just like the safety goggles, you should wear a dust mask anytime you are sanding the wood. This will help protect your nose from all the chemicals and wood dust flying about as you sand the wood.

Work Station Should Be Well Ventilated

No matter the size of your workstation, you should make sure it has good ventilation. Chemical paint and other materials used in removing polyurethane can be hazardous to your health if inhaled for a long period. Even with all the protective gears, you will need to keep the workstation properly ventilated.

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