How To Remove High Gloss Finish From Wood: Step-by-Step Guide


Removing the high gloss finish from wood can be a tricky task and yet is a necessary step if you are looking to repaint, refinish, or do a major restoration of your wood furniture. With the right materials and the right techniques, however, you can restore any wood surface and give it a clean look. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of removing high gloss finishes, the materials needed, and the step-by-step guide on how to do it right.

One of the main benefits of removing the glossy finish is that it can not only enhance the look of the whole piece of furniture, but also the longevity. Having a clean, non-glossy finish allows for other products such as paint or varnish products to adhere better and last longer. Not only that, it further helps against weather damage, dirt, and dust and allows for a smooth repainting process.

Ensuring that you have the right materials to do the job is key. Depending on the type of wooden surface and the type of glossy finish, you may need different materials. Generally, it is best to use a soft rag or cloth to wipe off the glossy finish as well as a chemical stripper to get off the hardest surfaces. Other materials may include sandpaper, wood conditioner, wood sealer, and varnish.

You also need to be sure to adequately prepare the area before you begin to remove the glossy finish. This includes making sure that the area is free of dust and debris, that you are wearing protective eyewear and gloves, and that the temperature of the room is suitable for the stripper to work effectively. Additionally, depending on the size of the area, it is sometimes best to use a chemical stripper instead of sanding as it is much faster and more effective.

By having the right materials and following the correct steps, you can easily remove glossy finishes from any wooden surface with ease. This will greatly enhance the look and longevity of the furniture, and will make for easier repainting and refinishing work.

The Benefits of Taking off the Glossy Finish

Removing a high gloss finish from wood has many benefits. For starters, it instantly updates the look of a piece of furniture or other wood surface to make it appear much more modern and stylish. In addition, a matte or satin finish is much easier to clean and maintain than a glossy finish. A matte finish will also be more forgiving of minor bumps and scrapes as it is not as reflective as a glossy finish. Taking off the glossy coating will also allow you to restain or refinish the wood if desired.


The Materials Needed

When taking off a high gloss finish from wood, there are certain materials that need to be obtained for the job to be done to the best of your abilities. The most important materials needed are a chemical stripper, a scrubber, steel wool, rags, sandpaper, and a wooden finish.

The chemical stripper is used to dissolve the current finish. This allows the finish to be softened and then easily scraped away. The scrubber is necessary to lightly scrub the finish away. Steel wool is also needed to help remove the finish. This should be done carefully to avoid scratching the wood surface. Rags are used to wipe the surface of the wood to remove the chemical stripper and loose pieces of finish. Sandpaper is also needed to smoothen the surface after the finish is removed. The right grade of sandpaper should be chosen depending on the type of wood and the finish you are looking for. Finally, a wooden finish is needed to complete the job. Depending on the desired look, there are different finishes that can be chosen for the wood.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-step guide
When removing high gloss finish from wood, it is important to do so with proper safety precautions and use the appropriate materials to ensure a successful outcome.

To begin, it is advisable to carefully prepare the area. This means covering any vulnerable surfaces, such as carpets or furniture, and minimizing dust from the area by vacuuming the entire surface to be worked on. It is also recommended to secure the wood with clamps to prevent it from moving during the process and to ensure that the surface is kept as flat as possible.

Stripping the finish from the wood is the next step. Make sure to use paint strippers specifically designed for wood surfaces, especially for high gloss surfaces. It is necessary to apply the stripper according to the instructions on the packaging to prevent any damage to the wood’s surface. Additionally, protective gloves and a facemask should be worn while using the stripper, as this is a hazardous substance, and ventilating the area is recommended.

After the stripping process is complete, it is a good idea to sand the wood with a fine-grade sandpaper to make sure no traces of the stripper are left on the surface. Finally, the surface can be cleaned using a damp cloth and then allowed to dry thoroughly before applying a coat of sealant or varnish.

Following these steps will ensure the successful removal of high gloss finish from wood. With proper preparation, the safe use of paint strippers, and cleaning and sanding of the wood afterwards, you can easily achieve the desired result.

Preparing the Area

When prepping the area to take the high gloss finish off the wood, you want to make sure you have the right tools on hand. First, lay down some plastic sheeting to cover any flooring that may be around the area. Make sure it is thick enough and covers a wide enough area to ensure no scratching of the floor.

Next, gather all the tools you need to complete the task. Be sure to have a scraper or sandpaper, an electric sander or just a cloth, and a chemical stripper that is specifically made to remove high gloss finish. Some chemical strippers are only made for specific finishes, so do your research accordingly.

In addition, you will need to prepare the wood itself. Ensure that the wood is smooth and free of any nicks or scratches. If there are any, you’ll want to sand them down before you start removing the finish. When sanding the wood, it is best to start with a coarser grade of sandpaper and then move up to a finer grade, ending with a polishing paper to get it as smooth as possible.

Once the wood is prepped and the tools are gathered, it is time to remove the high gloss finish. Make sure the area is well ventilated and that you are wearing the proper safety gear when handling any chemicals.

Stripping the Finish

When you start to strip the finish from the wood, you’ll need to make sure that you are very careful not to damage the wood. The best tool to strip off the high gloss finish is a chemical finish remover. These products are specifically designed to remove varnish and glossy lacquer finishes without damaging the wood. Before you start using the chemical, make sure to read the safety precautions and follow them!

After you’ve read the safety instructions and gathered all the necessary materials, start by wiping down the wood with a damp cloth, removing any dirt and dust. This will help the chemical stripper bond to the finish, making it easier to remove. After wiping down the wood, apply a good amount of the chemical finish remover on the wood. Start at one end of the wood and make sure to be generous with the amount of finish remover you use.

Then use the scraper to remove the finish. You may need to use several applications of the chemical finish remover and wait for it to soak in before you start scraping. The finish remover will be easier to remove if it has had time to soak in and soften the finish. When you’re done scraping, use a damp cloth to remove any residue left from the chemical finish remover. Be sure to follow up with a dry cloth to remove any moisture left on the wood.

Finishing Steps

Finishing Steps are an essential part of removing a high gloss finish from wood. Once the finish is removed, it is important to properly take care of the wood in order to protect it from further damage.

The first step is to sand the wood surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. This will help to make the surface of the wood even and remove any remaining glossy finish pieces. To ensure the best results, it is important to start with the least abrasive sandpaper and slowly move up the grits until the desired effect is achieved. Afterwards, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned with a cloth soaked in mineral spirits.

The second step is to apply wood conditioner to the wood surface. This will help to nourish and hydrate the wood and make it look vibrant and shiny. Apply the wood conditioner with a clean, lint-free cloth, then spread it out evenly across the wood surface. Make sure that the wood conditioner is fully absorbed before wiping the excess away.

Finally, the last step is to apply a protective seal or clear coat to the wood. Doing this will help to protect the wood from damage and preserve it in its best condition. Apply two thin coats with a brush or a roller, and then give it 2-3 days to dry before use.

Tips & Tricks

When it comes to removing a high gloss finish from wood, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make the process easier. For starters, it’s always best to wear protective eyewear and gloves as the chemicals used to strip the finish can be harsh and harmful.

If the wood surface you’re working on is varnished, try steaming the area first to soften the finish before you begin any application of chemicals. Applying a small amount of petroleum jelly to the edges of the wood can help protect them from the removal process.

If you’re using a chemical-based stripper, make sure to keep the area well-ventilated, as the fumes can be overwhelming. To speed up the process, use a slightly heated solution and a thick bristle brush to really penetrate the finish. Regularly check up on the surface and stop the process when you hit the desired level of gloss.

Once the finish has been removed, you should quickly apply a coat of sealant or varnish. This will help maintain the integrity of the wood and provide the necessary protection to the surface. Applying a quality finish to the surface will help extend the life of the material and keep it looking brand new.

Above all, be careful when removing the high gloss finish. This is a job best done by experienced professionals, as there is always a risk of damaging the wood or leaving behind a surface with a poor quality finish. So take your time, be patient, and use the tips and tricks described here to get the best results.


Devin B

Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I'm the author of this website about tips for woodturning and wood finishing. I'm an avid woodworker and have been doing it for over a decade. I'm constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with new materials and finishes.

I started my journey in woodworking when I was a teenager, making furniture for my bedroom and small projects for my family. As I got older, my interest in woodturning and wood finishing grew. I took classes on the subject and read books on the topic.

I'm passionate about woodturning and wood finishing because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way. I love the satisfaction of seeing a piece of wood that I have transformed from a block of raw material into a beautiful finished product.

I hope you find the tips and advice on this website helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help out and share my experiences. Thanks for visiting my website!