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Before & After: The 70s & Easy Off = Groovy!

Ahhh the 70s! Such a groovy time in history. It brought us bell bottoms and halter tops, peace signs and the Bee Gees. It also brought about some questionably designed furniture.

This beauty to the left is my parents' dining table from that moment in time. While the style is pretty, I am not a fan of the orange stain. I love the idea of using something in my home that I grew up with and am thankful that my mom handed this down to me so I wanted to make it a little more my style to fit in with the rest of my home.

My style incorporates french country design mixed with timeless chinoiserie and traditional elements. With the legs having a provincial look and the bones being simply classic, I knew I could bring the french vibe forward with a little stain removal. Here enters the Easy Off Oven Cleaner.

Now let me say that oven cleaner as a stain strip has been controversial. It does contain toxins but so do most of our household cleaners and many products that we use in everyday life. Take precautions and use your best judgement. Do what is best for YOU! I always wear a mask, rubber gloves and eye protection when using this product for safety. I also complete these projects outside so everything is well ventilated. With that...let's get to it!

Here is what you will need:

  • Safety gear: gloves, eye protection, and a mask.

  • Easy Off Oven Cleaner. I used two fume free cans for this one. I have used other cleaners but this one works the best for me.

  • Bucket

  • Warm Water

  • Dishwashing liquid

  • Scrub brush. I use a medium soft bristle.

  • Pressure washer or extremely strong garden hose

  • Fine grit sand paper

  • 1 cup white Vinegar

  • Wax, oil ,or clear stain. I use a Kilz wax coat.

The first steps are pretty simple...actually the whole process is. Spray the oven cleaner liberally on your piece making sure you coat every area. It is easy to see where you've sprayed because it will leave a residue on your piece. Once you've completely sprayed the piece, make yourself a cup of coffee, do some laundry, or run to the post office. You need to let this sit about 45 minutes. I have found that the more layers of paint or stain, the longer it needs to sit to saturate the piece.

As you move to the next step, mix your warm water and dishwashing liquid. I always use Dawn. Get your scrub brush and soak in the bucket to wet the bristles. This is where the magic starts to happen. As you scrub the piece, you will see the stain lifting and you will start to see the natural wood underneath. Some spots may need more scrubbing than others and you can gauge that as you go. Put a little elbow grease behind it!

At this point it's time to rinse! You can use a water hose with a strong stream but I highly suggest a pressure washer. It will assist in removing the rest of the stain and really clean up the piece by removing the remaining oven cleaner and dishwashing liquid. I spray until the water looks clean as it rolls off of the furniture.

From here you need to let it dry in the sun. I usually give it 2-3 hours before I start any sanding or neutralizing with the vinegar.

Once it is dry to the touch, I mix a 50/50 water/vinegar solution and use a soft cloth to clean the piece. This aids in neutralizing any of the leftover oven cleaner.

Once the water/vinegar has dried, I use a 180 grit sandpaper to lightly go over the entire piece for a smoother service. I go over areas more than once where stain is still noticeable and to make the entire look more cohesive. This is optional. Some people like the variations in color or a little distressing on their furniture so it is really left to your taste.

Once you've stripped and sanded, I highly recommend a sealer. You can use oil, varnish, or wax. Since I wanted to keep that natural wood look, I opted to use a clear wax seal. I love the Kilz brand because of its ease, no fumes, and it doesn't change the color of the wood. The one I use states it's for use over chalk paint but it works beautifully on natural wood. I usually put 1-2 coats but if your using your piece of furniture in a high traffic area, you may want to use 2-3. It dries to the touch in an hour or so, which is when I buff for that sateen sheen. It will take a few days to cure so if this is a piece you use daily, keep that in mind.

That's it! It took me one Saturday to complete the stain removal and then I took the next morning to wax after the table had time to thoroughly dry. I am in love with the finished product. This is the third project I have done with the Easy Off and it works well with all wood pieces. There is a new "green" product that I've heard about. It is supposed to give the same result as the oven cleaner without all of the toxins. I will try that with my sideboard once it cools off a little. I thought I was going to have a heat stroke in the MS heat for this project! Woo! I will let you know how that one goes.

And here is the finished look!

I would love to see your finished product if you try this method. Depending on the wood, you will get variations in color but there is nothing like a natural wood look. It works with so many design styles. Good luck and until next time...XO Jennifer

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