How stripping paint is like the school bully?

I can give you a few reasons how stripping is like the school bully.

Stripping  is not my idea of a good time.  Not only is it a tedious job, but it is labor intensive. Being on my hands and knees, contorting into unnatural positions, while trying to maintain some sense of balance isn’t even the worst of it. The  hand and wrist pain that ensues from scraping, wiping, more scraping, scrubbing with steel wool coupled with awkward bending and leaning, cranking neck muscles to inspect nooks and crannies.

Stripping is not for the faint of heart. It is back-breaking grueling work.

I recommend a complete avoidance of stripping when possible.

The odor of stripper is quite obnoxious, but it might help if stripper smelled like cucumber melon body spray. The fact is, stripper doesn’t smell like cucumber melon, strawberries, vanilla or any other pleasant scent.

Don’t try sniffing strippers to find out! I

Sniffing stripper might even be illegal. I think it might be akin to sniffing bath salts or paint fumes. Maybe a few too many brain cells were fried when I was working with strippers. All I know is essence of stripper causes headaches.

The one thing I do know is that stripping is a bully. I hate everything about stripping and strippers!

I won’t be sharing pictures of  any behind the scenes action shots. No one really wants or needs to see images of sloppy stripper, globs of melting paint, or my cranky face.  Let’s just get right into the pretty pictures while you read about the debacle that led up to stripping.

Stripping paint, A professionals tales of woe and bad decisions. A Pro painter | Faux Finish creators thoughts on using wax topcoats. French country furniture ideas

 I could not stop thinking time is money, money is time, products cost money, each pass with product incurs another cost, adding in another charge for time, and, and, and….. Cha-ching, ching, ching, ching.

A giant bonfire began to sound like a better alternative to stripping a paint finish that I had messed up.

As enticing as that idea sounded, the bonfire idea was a non-option.
Experience; That most brutal of all teachers; But your learn, my God, do you learn

So…. What exactly did I do wrong?

For starters, I used a product as a topcoat that resulted in destroying the integrity of my paint finish.

This destruction could have been avoided if I had only heeded my what my instructors said- “always make a sample finish”.

Instead, I was caught up in a whirl of reviews about a certain product being 100% natural. The raving reviews said that it smelled good and came in scents of orange, lavender, or unscented. I like natural. I like pretty scents. I like environmentally friendly products too. When the integrity of my work is not compromised I will use natural, non-toxic, no and low VOC faux finishing products. That isn’t always possible, though.

Many of the reviews and You-Tube sources said this topcoat was a soothing product for their hands too. Umm..okay, red flag right there!

A product that is soothing for skin is not a quality topcoat!


 In hindsight, the reviews sound more like an ad for lotion instead of wax for refinishing work.

What was I even thinking?

  Logic did not prevail; not this time, folks.

I may as well have rubbed Chap-Stick all over the cottage end tables.

But being the hopeful, optimistic person that I am, I waited 30 days; the standard time for a full cure. I waited, hoped, and prayed for the best. Thirty days later not one inch of this product had hardened the way a finishing wax should. Scratch tests were pulling up chunks of the paint finish. It was greasy and oily feeling.

Suffice it to say, the lesson is this:

 Do not believe everything you read on the internet; even if all the cool kids are doing it!

Make a sample finish!

ALWAYS Test product compatibility first!

Here is one crummy photo of the finish about mid-way through completion.


This finish would have been fantastic.

Come to find out, I used a wood polish, not a finishing wax on top of porous Old World Paint. This is the grand-daddy of all stupid mistakes. Polish is not wax and wax is not polish. Polish and wax are completely different products that are used for different purposes. 

 In the faux finish, decorative paint, and cabinet finishing industry it is basic knowledge 101 that wax is not as durable as varnish topcoat. Wax is not designed to be painted over either.  I knew better than to believe the nonsense about how this one special brand could be waxed and painted over.  I have no one to blame except myself. After all, I am a certified faux finisher that has professional training in faux finish, prep and paint for cabinetry, and furniture.

 I will say it again- Paint will not adhere to surfaces that have been “smothered” in wax.

When tastes in color happen, –they do happen– you can bet your bank account that any surface that has been waxed, will have to be fully stripped before any paint or stain can be reapplied to the surface. I’m not making this stuff up as I go along.

There are plenty of people out there that love furniture wax and all that boutique paint.  I’m not one of those people. Wax on cabinets or high-use furniture is not what professionals use to seal a paint finish. Some professionals work with oil based paint and a polyurethane topcoat varnish.  Other professional finishers use acrylic or latex paint sealed with a polyacrylic topcoat/varnish. But not one professionally trained painter or faux finisher will use wax on kitchen cabinets.

I favor Faux Effects professional faux finish and decorative painting products. Faux Effects brand is a top-of-the-line finishing product used by professionals. There are a number of products that are excellent for creating Old-World, European faux finishes.  You can check out a couple of my finishes in this Old World Collection blog post here.

Reinvented Collections french cottage end tables

Once I finished stripping the paint and cooking oil, Chap-Stick, lotion, wood polish, that was hailed as a wax topcoat, it was time to lay down some product.

gold foil painted finish

My inspiration was coming from Florentine finishes. The delicate gilding on tables and the worn patina on Florentine tables hit the creative spot for me.

My friend Courtney, from French Country Cottage blog, has a gorgeous set.  She kindly gave me permission to share her pretty  photos in this blog post.

*On a side note: I haven’t forgotten about the third installment in my series about My Gustavian and French Country style. part 1, part 2, 

 Aren’t these tables beautiful?

French Country Cottage Florentine tables
Florentine nesting tables

Before I move on, here is the direct link to the Florentine Nesting Table post. click THIS

 I kept the Florentine inspiration minimal on my end tables. I used a medallion shaped Moroccan pattern in the center. I began with laying in white paint, then overlaid the gold foil to create an intentional imperfect decorative center on the tops of each table.

I added a line of gold between the  vintage blue-green and the white finish on the edges.  This helped tie the small brass feet in with the painted finish. The gold foil I had on hand was a gift from my faux instructor and friend Morey.  She is up for election as a board member of IDAL.   (International Decorative Artisans League) She is an excellent teacher. Morey  has an immeasurable amount of knowledge, skill and talent. 

Gold foil painted finish

I do love these tables… now.

The finish turned out so much prettier than I anticipated.  I named them Cottage Woods. They are named in part after a dear friend. He was supportive, offering kind words of encouragement, as I worked through stripping these tables. Having another set of eyes when the artist blindness sets is helpful.

Reinvented Collection cottage end tables

There are the cute little brass feet that I mentioned earlier.

In the end, all is well and ends well. I used Faux Effects all the way through each layer. Without any doubts, I know the finish is durable and will make someone happy. I take great pride in producing high-quality, durable faux and decorative finishes that will stand the test of time.

Experience is one of life’s greatest teachers, this includes bad experiences as well.

faux finish painted end tables

The women that I will be partying with this week are:

French Country Cottage

The Charm of Home


Shabby Nest

Shabby Art Boutique- Shabbilicious

From My Front Porch to Yours

Miss Mustard Seed

Savvy Southern Style

The Happy Housie

My Romantic Home



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Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Home!