Skip to main content

Search form


How to strip the color from a rocking chair

Product design
- 17 Feb 2018 -
20 posts / 0 new
Select a category
Product design

Got this nice rocking chair from Illum Wikkelso, that was badly painted in white. Even the original sticker is still there. Want now to strip off the color and probably just oil it. The original color underneath white is a sort of green color. That has to be removed as well. Would you use here rather a paint stripper or would you better only sand it? I don’t want to damage the good piece out of inexperience.

How to strip the color from a rocking chair
1950 - 1959


- 17 Feb 2018

I would use paint stripper. Paint tends to gum up sandpaper pretty quickly, so you'll probably end up spending a good chunk of your time changing the paper, plus you have to be very careful that you don't end up with sanding marks in the wood. Then again, stripper is messier and more toxic (buy a respirator if you don't have one--3M makes some inexpensive half-face ones that are comfortable and very effective). I've had the best results with heavy-duty paste type methylene chloride stripper. Get heavy duty chemical resistant gloves, too--about $12/pr or more. And safety goggles.

- 17 Feb 2018

Doesn’t the bottom of the chair indicate that it was originally painted white, then green, then white again?

- 17 Feb 2018

Spanky, thank you for the advice, that sounds like a good plan to remove the color.

Leaf, the green color seem to me as original, though not easy to recognize under the white color. I will double check. Also I imagine I saw other Wikkelso chairs in that green color.

- 17 Feb 2018

I just did a quick google image search and didn't see any green rockers, but I know I've seen Scandinavian windsor-style chairs with original dark bluish-green paint. This rocker shows up white white, red, and black paint, plus clear finish. I looked at 1st Dibs listings because they usually have a lot of detail photos but only one had a photo of the underside, and fortunately (?) it looks a lot like yours!

I wonder if the lighting on yours is giving it more of a warmish caste than it actually has. Hard to tell.

The other thing that gave me pause about the green being original is the way it is slopped onto the underside of the seat. I know Paulsson chairs are painted or lacquered before assembly and even the paint on the seat itself stops cleanly at the bottom edge of the sides. I don't know if Wikkelso rockers were done this way--might be worth doing a search for more photos.

- 17 Feb 2018

I seriously, seriously doubt that the green is original. It would have been sprayed, and that is brushed. And yes, the whitewash is paint. Probably a fast spraying because the bottom did not need a full coat.

- 18 Feb 2018

Do yourself a favor and pay somebody else to do it. I would probably be inclined to turn that job down.

But if I took it, I might disassemble the chair and soak each piece in a bucket of lacquer thinner for a day. Then clean it up best as I could, put it back together, and put a new coat of white lacquer on.

- 18 Feb 2018

I'd just slap on a new coat of paint in my favorite color(s) and get rockin'.

- 18 Feb 2018

I need to strip off the old color somehow. The old paint hangs there in pieces.
I think if paint stripper doesn't work, I can carefully sand it and indeed spray with a new paint.
What probably would be more realistic. I doubt to get it so clean, that I just need to oil it.

- 18 Feb 2018

Paint stripper will get the paint off if you do it correctly. If the original white lacquer or paint leaves pigment in the wood that won't come out with stripper, then finish it with sanding.

Unless you really love to sand for hours and hours, then knock yourself off and just sand all the paint off.

- 19 Feb 2018

Seriously, just find a chemical stripper in your area. It would probably cost you $100 or less. Sanding is just going to make things worse.

- 19 Feb 2018

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to get paint out of the corners? And there are a lot of little corners here.

If you are serious about stripping this and oiling it you really need to be serious about disassembling it, then stripping it, the lightly, lightly hand sanding it, then oiling it.

Even if you take it to a place with a stripper dunk tank, the paint will stay caught in the corners, and you will have to disassemble it to get the residue out.

- 19 Feb 2018

When I have done stuff like this, I always disassemble after initial stripping, then do further cleanup. But I have a flowover system, which helps in loosening the joints. Absent that, a heat gun or steamer... messy job, anyway.

- 21 Feb 2018

Now I am confused what to do with the chair. :) I cannot leave it like that and stripping the paint including disassembling is probably too difficult. I will try it on another chair, which is not so valuable and look how far I come. Then decide what to do with that one.

- 22 Feb 2018

I have a Wegner rocker that I bought a year ago. The original painting was very damaged so I decided to strip it. The chair is now half stripped in a corner, waiting for the rest of the job to be done. And it is probably one of my favorite chair design.
I have spent countless hours cleaning, sanding and oiling furniture. However, stripping off paint is just a nightmare. Sometimes the paint will go easily, sometimes not. You know that the result won’t be as good as you hoped. Plus it is a dirty job. Plus the spindle back takes forever to strip. It is just not fun (and I find that refinishing teak furniture is a very fun activity).

If I had the choice between stripping a spindle back chair and watch a bunch of frogs making love, I would watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy.

- 23 Feb 2018

Hello. You must not look for such point of view but don`t you think about leaving it. It`s don`t a joke! I really likes like it looks now. These shabbines makes the chair looks more vintage stylized Even a sticker looks great to me. Of course i don`t know if it match to your house style I jast a fan of look of old furniture.

- 23 Feb 2018

I agree.

Rocking chairs should look well used...with a lot of miles on them. A painful stripping won't make this chair rock any different. I'd just leave it 2 cents.

But I'm usually wrong.


Aunt Mark

- 23 Feb 2018


use the scruffy side of a sponge, some paper towels, and your fingers to remove any loose paint

pick a color

get a can of paint in that color

shake up the can of paint

(rattle rattle rattle)

(rattle rattle rattle)

grab some paper out of the recycling bin

take the can of paint, the paper, and the chair outside to your driveway

spread the paper on the ground

set the chair on top of the paper

shake the can of paint some more

(rattle rattle rattle)

(rattle rattle rattle)

remove cap from can of paint

spray the chair until it's painted

let dry, repeat if necessary

invert can of paint and spray to clear nozzle

discard paper in appropriate receptacle

put can of paint away or discard if empty

take chair inside

rock, rock, rock

rock, rock, rock

- 23 Feb 2018

Refinishing furniture is 90% prep work & 10% actual refinishing but the ratio is irrelevant when doing this activity for fun.

Log in or register to post comments