The vast majority of manufacturers use polyurethane on wood to prolong and preserve its life. Polyurethane is used to give the wood a long-lasting and glossy finish. This kind of finish is also great for providing a protective surface on top of the wood. It prevents the wood from getting scratched and damaged.

But, just like any protective product, it can also fade and wear out over time. To restore the wood’s shine, it might be necessary to remove the worn-out layer and place a new one.

This article will show you how to remove polyurethane from wood in no time. It guarantees that it will save you both time and money. Keep reading to find out how.

Insight on polyurethane

Insight-on-polyurethane1 How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

You need to know that polyurethane comes in two formulas. It comes in an oil-based formula and a water-based formula. The ones that have an oil-based formula usually are resistant to water. They also show resistance to both alcohol and various acids.  The downside of this formula is that it becomes yellow over time.

The water-based formula is quite the opposite. It isn’t resistant to neither alcohol nor acids. But, it stays clear and doesn’t become yellow as it ages.

How to remove polyurethane from wood? 

Knowing how to remove polyurethane from wood is not something impossible. If you learn now, you can pretty much remove anything with a polyurethane finish.  It is an exceptionally easy project to do. You will be able to do it in no time with minimal effort.

Tools and equipment necessary for this project: 

Untitled-1 How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

  1. Floor scraper
  2. Gloves (preferably rubber gloves)
  3. Fine grit sandpaper
  4. Protective eyewear (safety goggles)
  5. Chemical stripper

With these things, you will have to remove polyurethane finish from wood structures. It won’t be a laborious job, but it will require a little patience.

Environment Preparation

Environment-Preparation How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

  • Since you’re using strong striping chemicals, you have to be in an actively ventilated room.

If you do not have any installed ventilation, open the doors and windows in the room. You can also place two ventilators. One that is blowing inside the room and one towards the outside. That way, you will remove the toxic air from the room.

  • Make sure also to protect the floor. Put nylon or some other cloth over the floor and the furniture to protect it from the drips. If there are any portable objects in the room, make sure to remove them.

Wear the proper gear

Wear-the-proper-gear-1 How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

Paint remover can be highly toxic and corrosive to the skin. Make sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Also, put on safety goggles as the harsh chemicals can irritate your eyes. Also, you might need a ventilator mask. Depending on the intensity of the chemical, the fumes can cause irritation to your throat and lungs.

DIY your paint remover/ Buy a special stripper

methylene-chloride How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

A lot of store-bought paint removers can be harsh, and your skin and even cause irritation to your respiratory system. Methylene chloride is an effective remover but can be very detrimental to human health. You can always choose a water-based remover. However, they can take up a lot of time and energy.

How to make your polyurethane remover? 

How-to-make-your-polyurethane-remover How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

To create your remover, you need to mix denatured alcohol with lacquer thinner. You can mix them with a stick. This combination is excellent for stripping polyurethane. It is also great because it removes the varnish only, but it isn’t harmful to the wood.

Applying the paint stripper

Applying-the-paint-stripper How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

  • To apply the paint remover, use a standard paintbrush. Start by coating the varnish layer with the remover. Make sure you put enough of the solution. It has to look as it is wet.
  • Then, let it rest on the varnish for about 10 minutes. Some paint thinners require a different setting period. You have to read the instructions on the package. You will see if the product has started working. The polyurethane layer will begin to wrinkle and bubble.
  • Water-based strippers need a lot more time to start working. Usually, they need about 6-12 hours to start working. Again, make sure you carefully read the instructions.
  • If you can’t supervise the whole process, make sure to wrap it with nylon. That way, you will prevent the paint remover from drying out.

How to remove polyurethane from wood?

How-to-remove-polyurethane-from-wood How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

This process is the most time consuming of them all. It would be best if you scraped the varnish by hand. Use a plastic knife or a scraper to remove it. Plastic is a great product that won’t damage the underlying wood.

How-to-remove-polyurethane-from-wood1 How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

  • You can also use gentle cloths to peel it off. In back and forth motions, carefully remove the softened varnish.
  • Once you’ve completed that, use a clean cloth to clean the area.  Dip the cloth in water or in whatever the instructions say. Then, use a dry cloth to wipe off the excess water.

If you haven’t removed the whole varnish by now, you can try again. Reapply the paint remover and rub it accordingly.

How to take care of the bare wood?

How-to-take-care-of-the-bare-wood1 How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

When you learn how to remove polyurethane from wood, it is important to learn how to take care of the wood too. Once you have completely gotten rid of the protective layer, it is time to clean the exposed wood.

  • First, to remove debris, use a wood cleaner. Clean it with warm water and pat dry the whole area.
  • If you have any polyurethane left, use an after-wash solvent. This will clean up the polyurethane and the applied paint stripper. You can rub it in with a paper towel. It will come off in no time.

Sanding the surface

Sanding-the-surface How to remove polyurethane from wood (The easiest way)

To smooth out the surface, use sandpaper. 150-grit sandpaper will do the job. If you don’t have sandpaper, use a ball of fine steel wool.

Be careful when sanding. Be gentle. Sand in the wood grain direction. That way, you won’t have any grit marks. Dust out the sand before you apply a new varnish layer.

This hopefully helped you learn how to remove polyurethane from wood. Now, you can do anything to your wood. After the long process, you will enjoy having your wood looking brand new. Enjoy.

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