Stripping Waterbased Finishes

Use a high-pH (caustic) stripper for efficient (and relatively non-toxic) removal. July 20, 2011

It seems that in the frenzy to create and legislate the use of waterbased finishes, the well meaning folks that promoted all this forgot one very important thing. How are we refinishers supposed to get this off without putting five or six times more toxins into the air than if we'd sprayed solvent based in the first place? Case in point, I've just spent about six times longer and used about four times more stripper and thinners than I would have had to for even stripping a CV on a simple pair of office chairs. Does anyone have any recommendations for a stripper, or technique, that actually works?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor W:
Use a water-based caustic stripper with a citrus solvent backbone to remove WB finishes. WB's breakdown much faster and easier when exposed to a high pH stripper, versus the old standard solvent strippers (which just turn WB's into a gummy mess). Caustic strippers, though high in pH and need to be handled accordingly, are far less toxic then the old methylene chloride strippers. Call your local suppliers and tell them what you are up against. The well educated ones will point you in the right direction.