Denatured Vs. Isopropyl Alcohol for Furniture Refinishing

Alcohol is a natural substance that manufacturers can chemically adjust for a variety of purposes. Professional furniture manufacturers use denatured alcohol to remove old, peeling and yellowing finishes. Isopropyl alcohol is more effective at removing stains from wood furniture. Choose the right solution for your purposes and always use care, as both can damage wood if you don't use them properly.

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Refinish furniture with denatured alcohol.

Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is chemically very close to natural and drinkable alcohol. The ethanol has been adjusted just enough so that the alcohol is inedible. Denatured alcohol is effective in removing mold and mildew as well as grease spots from wood furniture. Like any type of alcohol, denatured alcohol is highly flammable. Never use it near open flames and never pour it on electrical implements.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is also referred to as rubbing alcohol. Like denatured alcohol, it is effective in removing grease stains, mold and mildew, as well as glue and other sticky substances. Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable. It is also toxic, so keep it away from children and pets.

Denatured Alcohol in Refinishing

Denatured alcohol can remove clear finishes and paint from a wood surface without damaging the wood, but it is not as effective as paint strippers in removing finishes. Generally, wood workers only use denatured alcohol to remove bits of paint after they've already used paint strippers. You can, however, use denatured alcohol to remove latex, lacquer, shellac and polyurethane finishes, as it is less toxic than paint strippers, although it may take more time to work than paint strippers. To use it to remove finish, soak steel wool in denatured alcohol and rub it over the wooden surface until all of the finish is gone. Denatured alcohol is also an ingredient in many paint strippers.

Isopropyl Alcohol in Cleaning

Isopropyl alcohol is not strong enough to remove finishes effectively from wooden surfaces, but it is useful in the refinishing process as it will clean residue from the bare wood. To use it, mix one part isopropyl alcohol with one part water. Rub the solution over stains on the wood until they are gone. Rinse the wood completely with clear water and dry it.