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Refinishing Wooden Bar Stools Using Green Products

If you want to give wooden bar stools a whole new look, here are some tips on how to do it in an eco-friendly way:

Remove the old finish

  • Sanding – Most chemical paint strippers contain methylene chloride, which poses potential health and environmental risks.  Therefore, to be really green, try to avoid using a stripper at all and sand off the old finish by hand.  This will require some time and effort on your part.  You should wear a protective mask and goggles as there will be a lot of dust and debris.  Before you begin work it’s advisable to check if the paint contains lead, as in the past wood paint often contained lead.  You can buy a testing kit from a hardware store.  If the paint does contain lead, you should avoid sanding it.
  • Homemade Stripper – One alternative to using a chemical stripper is to make your own by mixing a thick paste of washing soda and water.  Spread this paste over all the wooden surfaces and leave it for 5-6 hours.  This should loosen the finish so you can easily scrape it off with a scraper.  When all the finish has been removed, clean up the wood using a mix of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water.
  • Eco-Friendly Commercial Stripper – Another option is to use a non-toxic, eco-friendly stripper, of which there are a few available.  However, it can hard to find eco-products in most hardware stores, so you may have to look online to find a suitable product.

Add The new finish

Most conventional paints and wood stains release toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (commonly known as VOCs) into the air.  If you’d rather not risk breathing in these fumes, use a greener alternative.  Eco-paints and stains are water-based and contain natural ingredients such as plant oils and minerals rather than toxic chemicals.  Or, if you like the natural look of the wood, you could keep it simple and just use linseed oil or beeswax. 


To minimize your environmental impact you should try to buy only as much paint or stain as you need.  If you have any left over, see if someone else could make use of it by offering it on your local Freecycle network, or failing that, contact your local waste collection service for advice on how to dispose of it responsibly.