My Bathroom Makeover [Part 4]: Stripping the Vanity with Citristrip

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When I first saw my hideous bathroom, the only thing I liked was the vanity. Actually, I loved the vanity. While planning my bathroom update, I knew I wanted to keep it, but it definitely needed some TLC.

The paint on it was thick. It had drips, clumps, and brush strokes all over the place.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a decent before picture of the vanity prior to starting this project. But, here are a couple pictures of the drawers, so you can get an idea of how thick the paint was:

For a little while, I used an exacto-knife, tweezers, small screwdrivers, and sanding blocks to try and get the paint out of the crevices. Some bits pulled off easily, others not so much. I needed something that would get the job done quicker and easier.

Enter Citristrip…..

This stuff is freaking amazing. It smells like orange creamsicle, it’s super gentle, and it takes off multiple layers of paint at once. It’s like a miracle in a bottle.

I started with the vanity cupboard door. I took off the hinges and knob and set it up in my garage on a piece of cardboard. Then I poured some Citristrip into an old coffee can and painted a thick layer on the cupboard door.

I could’ve definitely used a much thicker layer to begin with, but I was still getting used to the stuff. It took me a little bit of trial and error (as you’ll see if you continue reading) to get it right. I covered the door with a black garbage bag and let it sit for the minimum amount of time (30 minutes).

When my timer went off, I checked under the bag and saw the paint was bubbling up.

I got to work scraping it off. I couldn’t find my plastic scraper and Home Hardware was already closed, so I used a wooden paint stirring stick. It says on the bottle not to use a metal scraper, because the Citristrip softens the wood while it’s wet, which makes it easier to scratch the surface, which wouldn’t be good.

To get in the cracks and in the details in the centre, I used a toothbrush and scrubbed as hard as I could.

I was amazed at how much came off, but I was nowhere near through all the layers of paint. I slathered on another, thicker layer, wrapped the bag around it, and let it sit for just under an hour.

The paint bubbled up quite a bit more this time, since I used more Citristrip and left it to do its magic for a longer amount of time.

I scraped some more, and was awestruck by the amount of paint coming off (and how easily!).

Then, I scrubbed some more with the toothbrush and used a thin, flathead screwdriver to get all the cracks cleaned out. There was so much nasty, sticky paint all over. I didn’t need to wear gloves (it’s so gentle!) but I did because the paint was sticking to my hands and it’s a bit of a pain to scrub off.

After painting, waiting, and scraping twice, there was still a lot of paint leftover.

I decided to leave the front of the cupboard for now and test what would happen if I left the Citristrip on the back overnight. The instructions on the bottle said it can be left on for up to 24 hours, but I didn’t want to ruin the front of the cupboard if it didn’t work. I really didn’t need to be so cautious. Leaving it overnight is definitely the best way to use this stuff!

I covered the back of the cupboard and wrapped it in a garbage bag, then left it overnight (about 20 hours total). I went out and bought a new plastic scraper (since mine is apparently gone) and some plastic and wire bristle brushes. When I started scraping, I got through almost all of the paint!

The wood was finally showing through. I guess I didn’t use a thick enough coat of Citristrip, because it was a bit sticky and hard to scrape in some spots. But I did get a whole lot more off the back than I did from the front.

I put on a thicker layer of Citristrip and left it to do its thing overnight again.

This time, I barely had to apply any pressure to scrape off the paint. It came off (right to the wood!) with basically no effort at all.

There were a couple spots when I pressed a little too hard and scratched the wood a bit, but nothing too bad. The back of the cupboard was basically done!

I slathered a thick layer on the front of the cupboard door, covered it with a garbage bag, and left it to do its thing.

The next day, I unwrapped the door and was pretty pleased with how much paint had bubbled up.

I scraped as gently as I could with my plastic scraper. I scrubbed all the nooks and crannies with a plastic bristle brush, then got into the more detailed spots with a toothbrush.

The drawers were a lot more satisfying to scrape off. The paint on the bottom of the drawer came off so easily!

I scraped bits of paint out of crevices with a screwdriver. I couldn’t believe how detailed the centre of the door was! There was so much paint on it before, a ton of the intricate carvings were gone.

Unfortunately, on the flat sections, I scratched the surface of the wood a little bit. A super small downside to getting right down to the original wood here!

I forgot to take a picture until I had it half covered in another layer of Citristrip.

I slathered it on, good and thick. Since it would be the last layer, I wanted to make sure I got (almost) everything off.

I scraped one last time (and forgot to take a picture – classic me) and the wood ended up being pretty beat up. This cupboard isn’t solid wood, just particle board, so the Citristrip got into it and softened it a lot. I was a little disappointed, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix. I sanded the entire cupboard with an extra fine grit sanding sponge, then took some spackling and gloves and carefully smoothed it over all the bumpy areas.

Once that was dry, I sanded again, then put on two thin coats of super adherent primer sealer, sanding between coats.

Here’s the cupboard, all ready for a fresh coat of paint!

And here’s the centre, in all it’s intricately detailed glory:

I can’t stop looking at it. It looks so much different than it did with all that thick paint on it.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you have to remove paint from a piece of furniture, I highly recommend Citristrip. Just order a bottle! You won’t regret it.

What colour do you think I’ll be painting this vanity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!

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