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Our Painted Fireplace and Stripping the Paint off with Citristrip

One thing I dream about someday is having a real fireplace. Since that won’t happen in this house, a few years ago I added a faux mantel to add some interest to our living room.  It was a pretty vintage mantel and has served well in our decor painted white. Lately my style has changed (again) and I really wanted to celebrate the natural wood of the fireplace surround (that I was hoping was there). I decided to tackle the task of taking our painted fireplace and stripping the paint off with Citristrip to the wood. There’s a video below that shows you a little about the process.

Bare wood fireplace bleached wood

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I’ll admit, in all of my years of refinishing and painting furniture, I’ve never chemically stripped a piece of furniture before. I’ve done lots of sanding, but this was a new experience for me. I decided to go the slightly less toxic route and use Citristrip (this post is not sponsored, I am trying this product on my own.). I used the gel version for more control.

Find: Supplies to strip painted furniture here

Scraping paint off a board with Citristrip

Because I’ve never stripped wood before, I was super cautious to make sure to follow all of the directions and precautions on the Citristrip bottle including a lead paint check. I’m sure it’s over-kill and I can’t decide if I look like I’m preparing to handle a biohazard in the 1920’s because I am being overly cautious, or the hat really makes the outfit. Though I should have also worn a mask. I have a slightly made scientist vibe. lol.

Scraping paint off with Citristrip

I found after brushing it on with a chip brush and letting it sit about 2 hours, it scraped up fairly easily. I did need to do a second coat in a few areas where the paint layers were a little stubborn. It looked like there were about 3 layers of paint and a layer of varnish underneath. I ended up using a combination of a paint scraper and brass stripping brush to get in all of the nooks and crannies. One mistake I made was not putting it on in a heavy enought coat the first time. I found any areas that were lightly orange did not come off as well or as easily in places I added a super heavy coat and it was dark orange. The next time I will be very liberal with my first layer. IN the end I could tell by how “bubbly” the surface looked. The “bubblier” the better.

Bleached wood fireplace white washed

Once all of the layers if paint were removed, I followed the directions for neutralizing the wood, and for cleaning it up, especially any gumminess. I found this great post at Bless’er House about if all of the residue from stripping doesn’t come off.

Use white wash for bleached wood and to tone down yellow

After I stripped the paint off of the wood with the gel stripper, I knew I was going to wax it, so I did a white wash first to give it the look of bleached wood and to neutralize any of the orange-ish undertones.

White washed with paint wood fireplace

Read: How to White Wash Wood and Make it Look Like Bleached Wood

Whitewashed Wood with a bleached look

Once the wood was white washed, I went over the entire faux wood mantel with furniture wax to protect it.

Bare wood fireplace bleached wood

I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work stripping the paint off with Citristrip to the wood…. about two days worth, but I am so glad it I did it! Stripping the paint off of the painted surface with gel stripper was easier than sanding like I did on this table . I can’t wait to show you the rest of the living room got an entirely new look with the fireplace and an updated paint color!