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Antique Furniture/Removing Paint


QUESTION: I have a nightstand that was painted about 15 years ago by an artist using oil based paint and sealer.  About 5 years later the nightstand was painted over with latex paint in a solid color, probably two coats.  Is it possible to remove the outer layer of latex paint without destroying the first artist's work?

Thanks for your help!!

ANSWER: What sealer was used over the artists work??

it would only be possible to do this mechanically, meaning scraping.  there is no paint remover or solvent I know of that will remove the top layers in this case without damaging the bottom layer.  often a latex paint will peel off an oil base paint.

this is not always the case, if the bottom layer were milk paint then it could be done chemically but not with latex over oil paint.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Would a heat gun help to separate the layers, or possibly damage the oil-based finish as well?


no it would not.  a heat gum is not selective in what it attacks.

you can try but be prepared for less than acceptable results.

the only way, and it takes a good touch is to scrape it with a sharp knife with a curved blade and that should be a skill practiced first.

If this were a project in my shop i would first have to take a scraping of the coatings, have them analyzed then determine what solvent would remove each layer without harming or moving the layer underneath.  This can be done, but at a high cost. The analysis would cost a few hundred.  Not a home project.  

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robert klein


Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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