Sanding is an efficient method for removing varnish from wood.
So, what grit sandpaper should you use to remove varnish from wood?
Varnishes are popular wood finishes for protecting wood, paint, or stain. However, it yellows over time, and you may need to remove it.
You could also be attempting to repair a poorly varnished surface.
VIDEO: Stripping and Sanding Varnish
How to Easily Remove Varnish from Wood Using Sandpaper
Sanding is a chemical-free and natural method for removing almost any type of varnish or finishes from wood. Sanding, however, is time-consuming, especially when removing varnish from large surfaces.
Knowing what grit sandpaper to use to remove varnish is a good start. Then, follow the steps below to remove all the varnishes from the surface.
Materials and supplies are required.
- Masks for dust
- Sandpaper with a grain size of 150
- 220 grit sandpaper
- The sanding block
- Cloth drop cloths
- The Methodology
Step 1: Set up the work area and the wood surface
Sanding away varnish creates a lot of dust and can be messy. Before sanding, follow these guidelines and prepare your working area and the surface.
Suppose you are working indoors; open windows and doors to ventilate the workspace. However, if the varnished surface is mobile, work outside. Then, using a drop cloth or dust sheets, line the floor and seal off surfaces and furniture.
Wear protective goggles, a nose mask, and hand gloves as well. Finally, before removing the varnish, remove all hinges, nails, and screws from furniture, wooden doors, and tabletops.
Step 2: The varnished wood is being sanded.
Begin sanding with 150-grit sandpaper. To avoid splinters and scratches, always sand the flat surface in the direction of the wood grain.
When working on large flat surfaces, an orbital sander can be helpful. You can also use a sanding block to remove varnish from smaller and tighter spots.
Sanding dust can be collected with a shop vacuum or brushed off the surface with a broom.
Using 220-grit sandpaper, sand the surface even more. Go over the entire wood piece until all the varnishes have been removed. Take note of the curved surfaces as well.
Step 3: Vacuum and tack the surface clean.
Vacuum the dust from the most recent round of sanding once more. The surface can be cleaned further by wiping it with a tack cloth.
You can still collect all of the dust with a damp cloth. Look for and smooth out any rough spots you may have missed.
Other Techniques for Removing Varnish from Wood
There are other methods for removing varnish from wood besides sanding.
Method 1: Using a Heat Gun to Remove Varnish from Wood
A heat gun softens and loosens the varnish, making it easier to remove. Put on goggles and heavy-duty gloves. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case you need to put out a fire.
You will require the following items:
- The cloth that is free of lint
Step 1: Clean the varnished surface.
Wash off the dirt and other potentially flammable contaminants with warm soapy water. Using a lint-free cloth, pat the surface dry.
Step 2: Warm the varnish and scrape it.
If you’re using a heat gun for the first time, carefully read the user manual to learn how it works. Then, adjust the heat gun to a low or medium setting.
Bring the heat gun up close to the area you want to soften. Heat the affected area until the varnish shrinks. Then, gently push the scraper beneath the varnish in the direction of the grain. The softened varnish should roll out.
Rep this procedure for the entire surface.
Step 3: Sand down any rough spots.
Use hand sandpaper or a sanding block to remove leftover varnish patches in tight spots.
Method 2: Using a Stripper to Remove Varnish
Stripping is the most efficient and effective method for removing varnish from wood. This method is quicker and requires less effort.
Although strippers have improved over the years, wearing protective equipment and working outside or in a well-ventilated area is still critical.
Regarding varnish or paint strippers, there are two formulations: caustic and solvent-based strippers.
Strippers based on solvents penetrate deeply into the wood fibers and soften the varnish. However, they emit a strong odor and are best used outside.
Caustic strippers, on the other hand, are suitable for indoor use due to their lack of odor. As one of the safest stripping gels, anyone can use Citristrip stripping gel.
You will require the following materials:
- Goggles for safety
- Mask for the nose
- Cloth drop cloths
- Disposable brush
- Scraper for metal/ Sanding Pad/ Fine Grit Sandpaper
- Varnish remover/ Paint Remover
Step 1: Set up your workspace
Wear protective clothing and open windows and doors if working indoors. Protect the floor, walls, and other delicate surfaces using a drop cloth or newspaper.
Step 2: Use the stripper.
Apply a generous varnish stripper to the wood surface with a disposable brush because it has a thick consistency and coats the entire surface.
Step 3: Wait for the stripper to do its job.
The average wait time is between 30 minutes and an hour. However, you should check the manufacturer’s recommended wait time before using the varnish stripper.
You will need the following supplies:
- Goggles for protection
- Nose protection mask
- Drop cloths made of cloth
- The disposable brush
- Scrap metal scraper
- Remover of varnishes
Varnish Remover (DIY)
When compared to chemical strippers, homemade varnish remover is less expensive and safer to use.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- In a half-cup of cold water, dissolve one cup of cornstarch.
- Fill a bucket halfway with hot water, then add the cornstarch, 3/4 cup baking soda, one tablespoon white vinegar, and 12 cup ammonia. Stir to combine.
- Apply the hot mixture to the varnish with a bristle brush.
- With a hot water-soaked cloth, remove the loose varnish.
Is It Better to Sand or Strip Varnish?
Stripping varnish is far superior to sanding. Stripping quickly removes old finishes such as shellac, lacquer, stain, and paint.
Sanding raw wood, however, can remove varnishes but is more messy and labor-intensive.
Is it possible to sand off polyurethane?
Absolutely! Polyurethane can be removed in the same way that varnish can. Begin by removing the most with 150-grit sandpaper. Then sand with 220 grit sandpaper to finish.
After that, it is entirely up to you to use a sanding block or an orbital sander.
How Do You Remove Varnish From Wood With Vinegar?
Vinegar is acidic so it will dissolve most varnishes. To make a robust vinegar solution, combine 4 cups hot water, 12 cup ammonia, one tablespoon white vinegar, and 34 cup baking soda.
Stir thoroughly before applying the mixture to the varnish to strip it.
How Can Varnish Be Removed From Wood Without Sanding?
You can remove varnish from wood with a chemical stripper or a do-it-yourself varnish remover. Brush the stripper onto the varnish, wait a few minutes, and then scrape it off.
Alternatively, you can soften the varnish with a heat gun and scrape it off the wood surface of the wood furniture.
What is the Easiest Method for Removing a Wood Finish?
Stripping the wood finish is the simplest way to remove it.
Apply a generous coat of stripper, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrape it off. You won’t break a sweat removing the varnish.
Varnish is simple to remove. With 150-grit sandpaper, you can remove thick layers of varnish on the wood door before finishing with 220 sandpaper grit.
If sanding isn’t your thing, you can achieve the same results with a varnish stripper or a heat gun. You can’t get away from sanding, can you?
FAQ on What Grit Sandpaper To Remove Varnish From Wood
Is it possible to simply sand off the varnish?
Paint, acrylic, varnish, lacquer, and shellac can all be applied successfully with this.
Sanding is the only step that is required to be taken in the process of removing the finish off a piece of furniture before painting it: Start by using paper with 150 grit to rough up the surface, and then finish with paper with 220 grit. Ensure that any dust is removed using a tack cloth or a rag that has been lightly wet.
In order to remove stain from wood, what grit sandpaper should be used?
Sand the surface of the wood.
Sand the dry surface using a sanding block or orbital sander while protecting your eyes and face with safety goggles and a face mask. Start with a medium grit sandpaper with a grain range of 100 to 150 and work your way up. Apply just enough pressure to get rid of the remnants of the stripper and stain, but not so much that it causes the wood to become damaged.
What can be used to dissolve varnish?
The majority of paint strippers, whether liquid chemical or citrus-based gel, are designed to remove varnish and stain. Chemical strippers can be effective in as little as half an hour, but the odors they produce might be overpowering. Citrus strippers are less smelly than other alternatives, but they take longer to remove paint and may require multiple applications.
In order to remove polyurethane, what grit sandpaper should be used?
Sand the surface so that the polyurethane can be removed.
You need only make use of very fine steel wool. Sandpaper with a granularity of 150 can also be used. Sandpaper will finish the job of smoothing it out while also removing any remaining polyurethane. You shouldn’t require a sandpaper with a heavy-duty grit because the after-wash ought to have removed the majority of the polyurethane from the surface.
Is it preferable to peel the varnish or sand it?
It is nearly always preferable to strip the finish rather than sand it, provided that the individual has sufficient patience to wait for the solvent to dissolve the finish. Older furniture that was finished with shellac or lacquer fortunately degrades rapidly, turns to sludge, and may be readily wiped clean.