A green paint and varnish stripper that doesn’t suck

I’ve got a few pieces out in the garage that I’m working on refinishing. Two will go up for sale, the other one might go up for sale. Scott is pretty attached to it so it would take a hefty price tag to separate him from it. Here’s a photo of that one (*cough* makeanoffer *cough*). It’s an antique Hunt trestle table and benches. Sturdy, rustic, timeless. Scott’s really in love (but we have nowhere to put it!). The top is a little bigger than 2’x3′ and it is normal table height. It would be a great game table or breakfast table for two average sized people or four smaller people (or average sized people who don’t mind sitting close together).

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to refinish it, so if you have ideas leave a comment! Keep in mind that it may end up outside.

And then there are these two other pieces — they will  definitely be up for sale. Here are before shots of them:

Typical 80’s-early 90’s honey oak, right? So, as I started to give them a light sanding to get ready to paint, I noticed that some of the sealer was flaking off of the end table. I decided to try a little oxidizing solution to see how I liked it. Usually oak turns black with the vinegar and steel wool solution, but I figured it was worth a shot.

And it was perfect.

So I grabbed a few bottles of stripper and went to work. Here is what they look like after getting stripped.

Better already, right?

If only oak could keep that light, sandy tone after being sealed. But it doesn’t. It turns orange. I think if I dilute the oxidizing solution enough, I’ll be able to get exactly the grey that I want, and then I’ll probably wax it. I’m afraid of going with my usual PolyWhey because I’m pretty sure it will turn the grey to orange. I promise to keep you posted!

In the meantime, let me tell you a bit about the stripper that I used.

I’ve tried a few different green strippers. The one I’ve used the most is a citrus one. I’ve also used Peel-Away. I’ve not been happy with either one. But this one? Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off? It actually works. And, it doesn’t make you feel sick nor does it eat through your skin. Bonus, right?

Can I get a hallelujah? Because this is kind of exciting…for me.

Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off went on really thickly — it is a gel. It stayed wet plenty long to release the finish and it didn’t leave too much gummy residue. Yes, some residue, but not as much as other strippers I’ve worked with. I was planning to use these mineral spirits to clean it up, but I only had this paint thinner around, so I used it and it worked well. Möstenböcker’s Lift Off is supposed to clean up easily with soap and water but I wasn’t ready to try it that way yet. I didn’t want to raise the grain of the wood and I haven’t had good luck with other strippers that are supposed to clean up with soap and water. Basically, other water-based strippers have traumatized me and I was being lazy for fear of creating more work for myself. Next time I’ve got a piece to strip, I’ll try the soap and water clean up and report back.

For now, I just wanted to share with you that there is a green paint stripper out there that actually works! I picked up mine at Lowe’s — I hope you can find some, too.

This is not a sponsored post. Möstenböcker’s has no idea who I am and did not pay me to say nice things about their product.


  1. says

    Hi Hillary, thanks for all the great info! I am stripping a 40′ oak dining room table (no chairs). What is your guess as to how much Mostenbockers I will need? It is old so lots of varnish already half off…I can’t purchase locally so will need to order online so a guess would be helpful!
    Thanks again, Christa

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