Determine the type of finish that the cabinet already has by performing a few tests (see next section). Then you can select the type of stripper that you need.
Prep your work area. Cover floors and bathroom fixtures, and be sure that you can ventilate the area.
Strip the cabinet using a commercial stripper and sand paper, as necessary.
Be sure that the cabinet is clean and free of any leftover stripper, paint, oils or dirt before moving on to the next step. Vinegar, added to hot water, will help remove oil and dirt from the cabinet after it's stripped.
Decide on the type of finish you would like to have on the bathroom cabinet. Some choices include stains, varnishes and clear or tinted shellac.
Apply the new finish. Some finishes require two or three coats.
How to Determine the Type of Stripper to Use
Place a drop or two of turpentine on the cabinet, in a discreet place, to see if the finish dissolves. If it dissolves, the finish is wax-based.
Determine if the finish is shellac by applying a few drops of denatured alcohol. If the finish begins to dissolve, the cabinet finish is shellac.
Detemine if the finish is water-based by using a few drops of Xylene.
- Some strippers do most of the work, but you will still have to sand to completely remove the previous finish. Some finishes are, of course, easier to remove than others. And some new products make it much easier to strip away years of built-up paint or stains.
- Some strippers are useless on certain finishes, so you must know what kind of finish is on your cabinet. Then read the label on several strippers to determine which is the best to use on your cabinet.