Some of my absolute favorite products for furniture refinishing

Ever since I have been thinking about writing this post, I have had the lyrics from The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things” song stuck in my head… and I can’t seem to shake them. Haha! I am really aging myself, aren’t I?


Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
           Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
           Silver white winters that melt into spring
           These are a few of my favorite things!   ….La La La La….


Um, ya!  I am such a dork!


Anyway…I digress.



Thrifty Dresser Transformation


Recently, I have been working on making over a couple of pieces of furniture and I decided that I really want to share with you some of the products I use whenever I work on a furniture transformation. Not only do these products make my life a little easier, but they help me to create a professional looking finish every time I paint.

I am not sure if you have had a chance to try out some of these products before, but I highly recommend them. Maybe, they can help to make furniture painting an enjoyable experience for you too!


So, on to the first product…


 Circa 1850 Soft Strip 182044 Gallon


You may be able to relate to this one.

If you ever have had to strip a piece of furniture before, you will know that it can be a messy, stinky and sometimes a very frustrating job. Most paint strippers take a long time to work, or don’t work at all. They can also only be used in a very well ventilated area outdoors because they are so toxic and the clean-up is a real P-I-T-A!

My absolute favorite go-to paint stripper is Circa 1850 Soft Strip Stripper. It works like a charm for me and a little goes a long way with this stuff! I have had this bottle above for quite some time and it is still at least half full and I have used it on at least 2 buffet tops and a dresser.

Another huge bonus with this stripper is that it is made without extremely toxic Methylene Chloride or any caustics. It is not non-toxic, but it is a big improvement to regular strippers. It has a pleasant odor (no chemical smell) and it doesn’t make me sick or give me a headache like other paint strippers do (I seem to have developed sensitivity to chemical smells over the years because of the toxic cleaning products I used to use).

Please remember though, when using this product, you must still wear eye protection, a face mask, gloves, preferably the nitrile kind, and long sleeves/long pants. Keep in mind that this stripper is supposed to take paint off so you can imagine what it could do to your skin or your eyes if you get some on you! It would also be best to work with it near an open window or in your garage where there is some ventilation. Also, if you are making over an older piece of furniture, make sure you test for lead paint before stripping the paint or even sanding. Your health and your safety is the most important thing!

Finally, I have found that this paint stripper also has an easy clean-up. So helpful!

I won’t get into details right now about its application, but please stay tuned for my upcoming tutorial on how I strip furniture.



img_3263 Home Hardware’s, Natura Safe Prep


As you may know, the majority of second-hand furniture that can be found today is very grimy and is covered in oils and other nasties that can cause paint not to stick, especially if it is a vintage or antique piece of furniture. Most people regularly use TSP (trisodium phosphate) as a preparation before painting their walls or pieces of furniture. The only problem with using TSP is that it is toxic to the environment.

I have found a safe alternative. It is called Natura Safe Prep. This stuff is the goods for sure! It is safe for the environment, safe to use, odorless and you don’t have to rinse it off like you do with TSP. It is also very affordable at only $4.99 for a Litre here in Canada. A little goes a long way with this stuff. I just put a couple of tablespoons of Safe Prep into a litre of warm water, wash my furniture piece with a rag, let everything dry and I am ready to paint. So easy!



Glidden Company GL3250 QT Gripper Gray Interior / Exterior Primer


Another product that I use on a regular basis is Glidden Gripper Primer. This is a wonderful bonding primer that also blocks stains. I use it on everything, even pieces of furniture with a very shiny finish. I just give the piece I am painting an all-over light sanding before applying this primer to give the wood a bit of “tooth”. To-date, I have never had a problem with my paint chipping off or the paint not sticking. I usually apply two coats of this primer, letting it dry well in between coats.

If I am working on a few pieces where I will be painting a similar color, I have my primer tinted closely to whatever color I am planning on painting. My favorite color for tinting is Behr Dark Gray. I can post the exact formula here if you like later today. Just let me know if you are interested!

For those of you looking for Glidden Gripper Primer, it can usually be found at your local Dulux paint store.



 3M SandBlaster 20400 Between Coats Sandpaper, 9-Inch x 11-Inch, 400-Grit


What’s next? Carrying on!

Let me count the ways I love my 400 grit sandpaper! It is ah-mazing! This is a large part of why my finished pieces of furniture are as smooth as velvet or as soft as a baby’s little feet.  If you haven’t ever used 400 grit sandpaper to sand your furniture before, you are seriously missing out!

I like to sand with 400 grit sandpaper between each and every layer or finish that I apply, whether it be when I am priming, painting or topcoating. I especially like the 3M Sandblaster sandpaper above as it makes light work of what you are sanding.

What I like to do is take one of the sanding sheets out of the package, fold it in half down the middle and then in half again. I then tear the sheet into 4 where I have folded. Lastly, I wrap one of the torn sanding sheets around a rectangular sanding block. This makes a perfect sanding block which works wonderfully to sand the flat parts of your furniture piece like the top, the sides or the doors. I find this method is also cheaper than buying multiple sanding blocks because they wear out really quickly. This way I can re-use my sanding block just by adding new sandpaper around it. Don’t throw out your old sanding blocks! With some new sandpaper, they can be used again and again!



 Hyde Tools 44280 Tack Cloth, 18Ó


What also helps to give your piece of furniture a flawless finish?

Tack cloths do! These little pieces of gooey cloth work perfectly for removing all of your sanding dust, bits of fuzz or any other nasties that will get stuck in your paint finish. They are so inexpensive (only $1.50 each) and find that I usually use at least two tack cloths per piece of furniture that I am working on. I tend to use one for the primer and paint layers and then I reserve a brand new one for the top coat layers.

I can’t say enough good things about tack cloths! To me, they are essential!




Lastly, I have been buying these inexpensive dollar store paint brushes for at least 6 months now. These are not just any paint brushes from the dollar store. Why do I love them so much? First of all these paint brushes barely shed as compared to regular cheap paint brushes. I can finish an entire project and these brushes haven’t lost a single bristle or the odd time it only happens once. There is almost nothing worse than painting and having to pick bristles out of your newly painted finish.

These paint brushes are also super soft and very easy to wash. I love to use them for applying gel medium to my photo transfers (I use the biggest brush), applying Mod Podge to a finished project, doing touch-ups to my paint finish or for cutting-in on a piece of furniture before rolling the rest with a roller. Because these brushes are so soft, there are barely any brush strokes in my paint finish.

You can see my love for these brushes in my previous posts below.



Framed Storage Box {How To}



A Spring-inspired Photo Transfer Project – Tutorial


Where can you find out more about these products? For most of the products I have mentioned, you can just click on the link below each of the photos to go to Amazon (my affiliate sponsor) or Home Hardware or you should also be able to find them at your local hardware store.

I hope you found this review of my favorite products helpful. I really wish when had I started painting way back when that someone had told me what products they like to use because it would have saved me buying a lot of crappy things that didn’t work worth a darn. What a lot of money I wasted!

So please stay tuned for more product reviews. I plan to share some more of my other favorite products with you again soon.


UPDATE: To read PART TWO of this post please click here.


I would love to hear if you have used any of these products in the past and whether you like them or not. Also,  if you have any of your own favorites, we would love to hear about them!


As always, thank you for all your support, comments, Facebook likes, tweets, and pins this week.


I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!






This affiliate-sponsored post has been written by me. All of the thoughts expressed about the suggested products in this post are 100% my own and are of my honest opinion. Please take precautions when using the products I have mentioned and familiarize yourself with the instructions on the labels before use.

You can read my full disclosure here.



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3 pings

  1. Belinda

    I loved this blog! Thank you so much for sharing your secrets & what products you use. I’ve always had so many questions on what people used, etc when refinishing furniture so this has been a huge help! Love all of your projects, makeovers, etc that you post & you have given me so many great ideas! Keep them coming & thanks!


    1. Carrie

      Awww…thank you Belinda! You are making me blush with your sweet comments. I am so glad that you like what I have shared so far. I have lots more to come so please stop back soon!
      Have a great day!

  2. Hani

    Awesome and very informative.. I have never worked on redoing furniture, this is a great post. Thanks for linking up at friday fun party!

    1. Carrie

      Thank you Hani for taking the time to stop by. Have a great day!

  3. Megan

    Great tips, Carrie. Have you had success with tack cloths on a particular finish or paint? I have only used them once. :) Megan

    1. Carrie

      Hi Megan,
      Thanks for your kind comments. I use tack cloths before I paint something, in between primer and paint coats and then in between the layers of top coat. They work so well to keep to dust out of your finish. Maybe next time you paint you will have a chance to try them again. I can’t paint without them anymore!
      Take care,

  4. Athena at Minerva's Garden

    Thank you for the informative post–I am definitely going to look for those brushes at my Dollar Tree!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Athena! I hope you are able to find them because they work awesome!

  5. Pat

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I have been stripping and refinishing furniture periodically since I graduated from college and would like to add some of the things that I have learned. Even though there are plenty of products that do not require stripping and sanding, I still like to get down to bare wood before I paint or stain, because it eliminates a lot of dirt, imperfections, and “I don’t know what the heck this is” layers, but that is just a personal preference. In case you run out of tac cloths, it is helpful to know that they can be made using a clean jar, shellac, and cheese cloth. I used to make my own, but at $1.49, I’ve finally decided it is a lot easier to buy them. One thing that I always have on hand, is wet/dry sandpaper. If you are not familiar with it, it is black, and just like the name implies, can be used either wet or dry. I mainly use it for runs and imperfections on spray painting jobs because it will smooth out flaws, usually without having to add more paint. The very fine grit paper will give a smooth-as-glass finish, so I like to finish a painted piece with a final wet sanding using 400 grit paper. The great thing about using it wet is that there is no sanding dust, and once the paper is filled with paint, you just rinse it in a bucket of water and keep sanding.

    1. Carrie

      Pat, thank you for sharing your tips with my readers. I have never thought of making my own tack cloths. I just like the convenience of the pre-made ones. There is always too much to do and not enough time. I have only tried wet/dry sandpaper once but I may have to give it a try again and see how it compares to my regular 400 grit sandpaper.

  6. Anu@MyDreamCanvas

    You really have an awesome blog with fabulous ideas. I do hope you’ll visit me at My Dream Canvas!

  7. cassie

    thanks for all the tips! the dresser is adorable, too!

  8. Jen

    Love the dresser, great job!

    1. Carrie

      Thank you Jen!

  9. Sharon Hines

    I’m so glad you shared this information! I’m going to have to try that stripper. Like you, I get headaches from most products. So, I’m willing to give your recommendation a try. I’ve got a coffee table that I’ve had sitting in the garage for almost a year now…just waiting to be refinished so I can sell it. This post has given me the motivation and encouragement that I need. I’m going to create a painted furniture board and pin your tips on it.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

    1. Carrie

      Sharon, with this paint stripper you will still need to have some ventilation going on but it actually has a pleasant scent as compared to other chemical strippers. You’ll want to test an area to see how well your paint/finish comes off. I usually leave my stripper on and then check it in a hour to see how well the finish is gumming up. Then I leave it sit a little longer and then go to work removing the finish. I hope you decide to try it on your coffee table. It will be great to check that one off of your to-do list! As always, thanks for stopping by.
      Take care,

  10. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.

    I love to read about the products other people use! Thanks so much for sharing! Now I have some new products to try!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Sharon! I hope you decide to give them a try sometime. I will also be posting about some other products I love in the next little while.

  11. Stacey

    Very good tips and products that you shared! I need to try some of those! Thanks for sharing and linking this helpful information up this week!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

    1. Carrie

      Thank you Stacey!

  12. Nicole@Show Off Friday Blog Hop

    Thank you for linking up. I hope you had a fantastic weekend! You’ve done a great job of sharing about some wonderful products!

  13. Donna

    I have a question. I’ve painted 2 pieces of furniture for my daughter and both have turned out sticky. The first was a small bookcase that I’ve had since I was 10 or so (a long time). It didn’t feel sticky when I finished but after she sat a couple of things on top they stuck to the paint. I thought this was because I didn’t use any top coat. Then I painted an unfinished check of drawers but I used the general finish top coat that you recommended and it did basically the same thing as far as sticking. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I used white latex paint with a foam roller on both. Is there something I need to do to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the items placed on these pieces? Thanks

    1. Carrie

      Hi Donna,

      After you applied the topcoat, how long was it before you put something on the top of your chest of drawers? The reason I am asking is because maybe your finish has not fully cured yet. It can take up to a month to fully cure. I haven’t had a problem with stickiness when using this finish except for on one piece of furniture that I refinished. That is on my antique sewing cabinet and it only sticks where the wooden lid touches the base of the cabinet (where wood touches wood). I found that if I leave it to sit closed for a long time then then lid sticks a little when I try to lift it. I have remedied it with a stick on felt pad. No more sticking! I would also suggest to you that you add felt pads (can be found at Home Depot) to the bottom of anything that you place on your chest of drawers. You can either buy the small stick on felt pads or you can get full pieces of sticky-backed felt. Then you can trim them to fit whatever you are putting on top. I use felt pads on all of my accessories that are placed on furniture, including my lamps.
      For your small bookcase, I think you are having the same problem in that latex paint that has not fully cured can cause things to stick to it. It should harden over time (hopefully). Again, you can use the felt pads and it should also help to keep your finish in good shape and prevent scratching.

      I hope this helps.

    2. Carrie

      Hi Donna,

      I found this which you may find helpful regarding the paint sticking.


      1. Donna

        Thanks so much for you help. I’m going to try putting the general finish top coat on the book case and see whether that helps. Also I like your idea of the felt pads. I have some of those already and will try them.

        1. Carrie

          I hope it ends up working out for you Donna! Glad I could be of help to you.

  14. Jen Keyser

    Great Tips! We will give the Circa 1850 stripper a go in our refinishing studio. We use mc based strippers and it would be nice to find another option that actually works. Thanks for the tips and keep up the great work!!

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