Prep and Repair Tools and Products
The best products to try are those recommended by others in the same niche. I’ve listed products recommended by others along with those I personally use. Products with *** in front of them are brands or products I’ve used and liked.
NOTE: Click on the the name of the product to be taken to Amazon or similar online market. Most are affiliate links for your convenience. Watch for: “TIP:” if you want the inside scoop from experienced flippers.
From the company: fresh orange scent, contains no methylene chloride, strips multiple layers, stays active up to 24 hours, for both indoor & outdoor use, effective on wood, metal & masonry to remove most paints, shellacs, polyurethanes, lacquers, epoxies & Varnish, thick enough to use on vertical surfaces.
TIP: If you cover it with plastic wrap and leave it for several hours (at least 3 hours and maybe even over night) you will get better results. Keep a spray bottle handy to keep it moist as you work. Scrape into a container using a putty knife.
(Most recommended product)
From the company: Very effective paint remover for paints, urethane, enamels, sealers, and many other coatings, non-caustic, biodegradable, no toxic fumes. Removes multiple layers in one application. SAFE! No methylene chloride. Eco friendly. Safe for use indoors. Made with 100% American Grown Soybeans.
TIP: Use a chip brush to put it on a thick layer (about 1/4 inch thick), leave on for about 30 minutes, and cover it with very thick plastic to keep it from drying out. Scrape it off onto a paper plate or tin can. If the paint is really thick, it may take as much as 45 minutes. Use soap and water, denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to clean off any of the residue. 0000 Steel wool works well to get it off spindles and other difficult areas.
From the company: Users who demand an environmentally safe remover will find plenty of cutting power with Biodegradable Strypeeze®. It contains no harsh chemicals or fumes and is safe to use indoors. It's perfect for stripping interior woodwork or wood floors, and can remove polyurethane and marine finishes too. Surfaces can be cleaned with scraper and water wash-off method.
NOTE: Don’t confuse this with the original Strypeeze product that is a harsh chemical.
From the Company - An extremely strong stripper that effectively removes paint, varnish, lacquer, shellac, epoxy, urethane, latex or any synthetic coating. It can be used on wood, metal, concrete and masonry. The semi-paste formula works in 15 minutes or less and clings to vertical surfaces.
NOTE: Be sure to have great ventilation and protective wear - very volatile, but works fast.
From the Company: MEK – Methyl Ethyl Ketone is commonly used as an industrial solvent. It is used primarily in lacquers, varnishes, paint removers and as a cleaning agent. (ships hazmat)
MEK (methyl ethanol ketone) is a strong solvent, used to strip off Pre-Cat, an industrial grade top coat used by companies like Ethan Allen and Lane.
TIP: Use it outside with gloves, mask, and safety glasses - it is a very toxic stripper used on the most difficult finishes.
OdoBan – use to eliminate odors
From the company: Kill germs and freshen the air with the OdoBan 32 oz. Lavender Odor Eliminator. This odor eliminator is safe to use on any porous or non-porous surface. Eliminates odors and freshens air. Excellent for fire restoration.
*** Krud Kutter – for cleaning and blocking odor
From the company: Cleans & deglosses prior to painting. Safe to use on all paints, varnish, lacquer, and polyurethane. Ready to use formula for spray on- wipe off. Removes dirt, grease, grimee, smoke, mildew, food stains, heel marks, crayon, old wallpaper paste, and wax from painted or unpainted wood, metal or vinyl wallpaper. No unpleasant odor. May be painted over anytime after ten minutes.
Ozium Car Spray – Use to sanitize and remove odor.
From the company: Ozium air sanitizing spray is clinically proven to eliminate offensive odors rather than masking them. Originally developed to combat airborne bacteria and germs in hospitals and health care facilities.
Shellac - spray or brush on to prevent bleed through and odors.
From the company: Bulls Eye Shellac is an alcohol-based solution of lac, a natural resin. Dries transparent with a faint, golden cast that is much lighter than oil-base varnishes. Offers many advantages over other clear finishes: it's easy to use, dries quickly, is non-toxic when dry and cleans up easily with ammonia and water.
TIP: Use two or three coats of Shellac to prevent bleed through. If you have painted and get bleed through, paint on the shellac and then repaint. Knots often will be bleeders. If you plan to distress and want to see the wood, this clear shellac might be your best choice.
*** Kilz Complete - spray or brush on to prevent bleed through and odors.
From the company: Quick dry re-coat in 1 hour, Dries to the touch in 30 minutes, Mildew-resistant coating. Very effective at blocking graffiti, tannin, water, smoke, & other bleeding stains.
TIP: The spray Kilz Complete can be used to spot seal bleed through.
*** Zinsser BIN Shellac Based Primer - this is one of the most popular water-based primers. Spray or brush on to prevent bleed through and odors.
From the company: Synthetic shellac base primer sealer that provides the ultimate in stain blocking. It combines fast dry time, low application odor, outstanding hide and superior odor blocking.
TIP: Tinting it gray will help coverage for red base coats.
*** Zinsser Cover-Stain (oil based) - spray or brush on to prevent bleed through and odors.
From the company: This primer sealer features a high-hiding formula to help block and seal water and smoke stains. It can stick to most interior and exterior surfaces and can be easily sanded. It locks most stains and helps seal water, smoke and nicotine stains, sticks to interior and exterior surfaces and sands easily, dries-quickly.
TIP: Some say this is the only product that effectively covers pine knots.This is the go to for mahogany stains bleed through. There are several different kinds of oil based primer, but for the most part this brand is good and the oil base is the primary issue. Oil based is the best guarantee of blocking bleed through but the clean up is a pain. We use an all metal sprayer to make clean up easier.
White Pigmented Shellac Primer - spray or brush on to prevent bleed through and odors.
From the company: Can be used as a full interior primer or as a spot exterior primer and permanently seals out the toughest stains and odors in one coat. Ideal for fire restoration work, is extremely effective in blocking stubborn stains caused by fires, floods and pets as well as imbedded cooking and cigar smoke odors.
General Primer TIP: Have your primer tinted gray when priming prior to painting a piece red or any dark color to help with coverage. Some use only gray primer. You can ask the store clerk to tint it or do it yourself. Others tint their primer with the final color they are painting the piece.
*** Mineral Spirits – use to clean furniture, soak rags used for oil based top coats or to condition surfaces, and to clean brushes used with oil based products.
From the company: Intended for use with most oil-based paints and coatings. Makes a high-quality thinner and equipment cleaner. Contains 100-Degree virgin-grade mineral spirits. Water white and crystal clear in appearance with low odor.
TIP: Use mineral spirits to thin or remove wax.
*** Denatured Alcohol - Use a mix of 50/50 denatured alcohol and water to clean you piece. Scrub the wood surface with a green scrubbie.
From the company: High Grade Burning Fuel for Alcohol Chafing Dishes and Stoves (flammable)
TIP: 50/50 Shellac and Denatured Alcohol can be used as a pre-stain conditioner for wood.
Lacquer Thinner - Use for tough clean up jobs, combine (50/50) with Acetone and scrub with steel wool.
From the company: Provides excellent leveling and gloss with lacquers and primers.
TIP: Use lacquer thinner and acetone to restore an aged finish. It not only removes the old lacquer, it lets you blend the original stain underneath. Soak dried out brushes you forgot to clean to bring them back.
*** Liquid Sander/Deglosser - deglosses surfaces to help new finishes adhere to old finishes. Works on paint, varnish, enamel and stain and is great for kitchen cabinets, wood moldings and door facings.
From the Company: Works on paint, varnish, enamel and stain and is great for kitchen cabinets, wood moldings and door facings.
TIP: Paint or wipe it on, let sit and scrub with green scrubbie to help degloss. does not work on all surfaces - so test an area before painting the entire piece.
*** TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) - TSP cleaner is so potent that it requires extra caution.
From the company: Removes hard to clean dirt, greasy, sooty dirt and prepares surface for repainting. Remove mold or mildew from tight corners. Rinse thoroughly after it is applied to surface.
TIP: Most kitchen cabinet painters recommend TSP to clean the cabinets.
*** Awesome Spray Cleaner - a general cleaner, degreaser, and spot remover, made in the USA.
TIP: You can usually find this in the Dollar Bill store. It works great on many surfaces like carpet stains. Always test in a small inconspicuous area first.
*** Tack Cloth - for cleanup just before painting and sanding between coats of paint or topcoat. Use to remove dirt, lint, dust and sanding particles from metal, plastic, fiberglass and wood. Use only with oil based products.
TIP: Be careful not to use with water-based products or press so hard that you leave a sticky residue on the wood.
HELP W/ ADHESION
*** Extra-Bond: Add to your first coat of Old Fashioned Milk Paint to improve adhesion. Mix a little bit of the paint with Extra-Bond to seal in knots. Sold by The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company.
From the company: Extra Bond is a concentrated acrylic. It can be mixed with the first coat of Milk Paint to promote adhesion to surfaces other than bare wood. Non-toxic.
***STIX Bonding Primer: Use STIX as a bonding primer on difficult surfaces. It goes on white.
From the company: This item is Insl-X Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer Acrylic Interior/Exterior Glossy White 1 Qt. Used for Painting Supplies Paint & Stains. Manufactured in United States.
TIP: One thin coat is all you need - it sticks to glass, plastic, wood, etc. - just about anything. Excellent product.
*** Mover’s Dolly - Great for moving pieces around while painting.
From the company: The soft cushions protect the surface of heavy object as you move it. Designed with a depressed center to secure objects with legs such as chairs or tables, holds up to 132 lbs.
*** Contour Scraper - for hand planing/scraping areas that need more than just a good sanding like drawers that stick.
From the Company: Soft grip handle, file inside handle, includes 6 stainless blades in handy storage case. Soft grip contour scraper kit. Includes soft grip handle and 6 hardened and ground stainless different contour blades. Half round blade file inside the handle.
***Dremel Set: A rotary tool is perfect for use in small spaces or small jobs.
From the Company: EZ Twist nose cap with wrench for fast accessory changes, variable speed for greater versatility- from 5,000 to 32,000 RPM. Can be used with all Dremel rotary tool accessories and most attachments. Cool-running ball bearing construction for smooth and quiet operation. Replaceable motor brushes extend tool life.
NOTE: There are many different brands, available accessories and types of rotary tools.
***Dremel Accessories: A rotary tool is perfect for use in small spaces or small jobs. These are the accessories that work well with the Dremel.
From the Company: Comes with reuseable storage case and 160 accessories. Can stand upright or hang on a wall by hook. Ideal for cutting, sanding, polishing, grinding, and carving. Clear lid, 8 storage bins and removable trays make accessories easy to locate.
***Dremel Sanding and Polishing Kit: Great for reaching detailed areas.
From the Company: All accessories are 1-Inch in diameter. Fully compatible with existing Dremel mandrels EZ402 and 402. EZ471SA and EZ472SA are great for getting into tight contoured spaces. The 512E is great for removing light paint from wood, and the 423E is perfect for removing tarnish from brass. Kit Contents (7 pieces total): (2) EZ lock detail abrasive brushes, (3) EZ lock abrasive buffs, (1) EZ lock polishing cloth, (1) polishing compound, (1) storage mini kit.
*** Ridgid Hand Sander - If you need to sand indoors, use a sander with a bag to catch the dust.
From the company: 1/4 Sheet Sander features dust collection of up to 90-percent with a quick release dust bag. The permanent magnet motor maintains constant speed and power under load. The sander has an ergonomic grip, a 12-foot cord with a lighted plug.
*** DeWalt Orbital Sander - If you need to sand indoors, use a sander with a bag to catch the dust.
From the Company: This sander has a rubber over-mold in all of the critically areas of the sander. It also features a separate counterweight design which reduces vibration for improved comfort. An improved dust-sealed switch offers protection against dust ingestion for longer switch life, and improved dust collection and interfacing with our vacuum locking system. Also to note, for ease of use, the dust bag has one-hand locking system.
*** Heat Gun - basic heat tool designed to apply focused heat for projects such as removing paint, thawing pipes and loosening rusted bolts.
From the company: Just plug the gun into any household outlet, turn it on, and select the appropriate temperature to restore furniture, strip funky-colored kitchen cabinets, or remove paint from hard-to-sand wood trim.
*** Sanding Sponges are designed for wet or dry sanding on wood, paint, metal, plastic or drywall. The block shape sponge makes it easy to hold and sands flat, contoured, or irregular surfaces. These are washable.
Abrasive comparison for 3M sanding sponges Grit Equivalent: Very-fine = 400 Grit, Fine = 320 Grit, Medium = 200 Grit, Coarse =100 Grit
TIP: These work great for sanding spindles, legs and detailed areas.
*** Flexible Sanding Pads - 4-1/2x5-1/2x3/16in sponge, conforms to your hand for detail sanding, abrasive on one side only, washable.
TIP: These work well on curved surfaces like spindles and routered edges. You can wrap these sanding pads around sanding sponges if you’re needing a better grip.
*** Steel Wool for cleaning, polishing, buffing and refinishing. From the company: Use super fine (0000) steel wool pads to smooth shellac, lacquer and varnish before the final oil based top coat is applied.
TIP: Go with the grain. Buff furniture wax and to rub on a high luster finish, or to put a matte finish on gloss. "0" is course, "0000" is super fine. Don't use with water based finishes because of possible rusting if any particles are left behind. Use tack cloth to remove particles before top coating.
***Putty knives are great for filling holes with wood filler. From the company: High-carbon steel blade is rust-resistant and extends through the sturdy, solvent-resistant handle for the spreading or scraping strength and long life.
TIP: The plastic putty knives don't work as well and are not flexible like the metal putty knives, though might be the best choice for stripping.
From the company: For repairing holes, dents, scratches, and defects on wood, wallboard, molding, or painted surfaces. Easy to sand. Easy water clean-up. Paintable and stainable. Resists shrinking and cracking.
From the company: A totally unique, quick drying, water based grain filler and wood putty accepts stain beautifully or can be tinted. Never goes bad Easy to apply and clean up No shrinking, cracking or falling out. Does not become permanent until you apply a finish. If you're ever unhappy with the way it looks, the color, etc. just water it down and remove it. If it freezes, simply put it in the microwave to warm it up or if it dries out, just stir in water.
TIP: Comes in a tintable base or already tinted.
Durham's is an easy to use and an inexpensive putty for fixing holes and blemishes in your wood products. It dries very solid.
From the company: Durham's is the go-to solution for repairing wood, patching plastic, art projects -- from fun and simple crafts for kids to beautiful works by top crafters and professional artists -- as well as many other uses. Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty permanently adheres in wood, plaster, and tile, and is wonderful for molding. It stays put and does not shrink. It can be sawed, chiseled, sanded, polished and colored.
From the company: A two-part putty compound that can be used to repair dents, dings, holes, rusted areas and scratches in vehicle exteriors. Bondo Body Filler cures fast, shapes in minutes and is formulated to be a non-shrinking and permanently durable material. In addition to its uses on vehicle exteriors and other metal surfaces it is also a suitable repair option for wood, fiberglass and concrete.
TIP: It is very stinky and hardens fast - you have about 4 minutes! Wear a respirator and have good ventilation. This product has to be mixed.
***Particle dust masks will help keep dust out of your lungs and sinuses. From the company: For light duty or short duration applications. Patented filter media with advanced electrostatically charged microfibers make breathing easier and cooler for enhanced comfort.
***Nitrile gloves are best for use with chemicals and to keep hands clean.
From the company: industrial grade powder free glove. Nitrile gloves are manufactured using synthetic polymers and are more puncture resistant than natural rubber. Resistance to punctures and abrasions, a perfect choice for protection from a variety of chemicals. Industrial grade nitrile gloves are made from component materials which meet requirements for food contact and handling. Gloves comply with FDA regulations, standard industrial grade. This is powder free glove. Textured finger tips. 4 mil thickness.
Chemical Resistant PVC Gloves are necessary to protect yourself from harsh chemicals.
From the Company: Wrist & Forearm Protection - Long cuff style protects your wrist & forearm from harsh chemicals, rough finish for handling in wet & cold conditions, for protecting yourself from chemicals - including acid, solvents, grease, bleach, oil, etc.
***Eye protection is a must when prepping with chemicals. From the company: help protect eyes from certain airborne particulates and chemicals, they feature vents to help reduce fogging, with a chemical resistant band.
Suggested everyday items to have on hand:
1. Ziplock Baggies in all sizes
Snack and sandwich size – to hold hardware
Quart size – to hold staining pads in between coats
Gallon size – hold brushes in between coats
2. Permanent marker – To label the hardware baggies
3. Paper towels – quick clean ups
4. Plastic or paper plates – to hold gel stain or topcoat for soaking staining pads
5. Plastic spoons and popsicle sticks – to scoop and stir
6. Scissors, flat head screw driver, plastic or paper cups
7. Cardboard boxes - cut off the flaps for a disposable work space (to lay wet brushes and stir sticks on, etc.) Use the boxes to prop projects or hold tools designated for current projects.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
- Alexander Graham Bell
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