Cost to Strip Varnished Woodwork – 2021

| Last Updated: August 24, 2021

National Average Improvement and Repair Cost







$ 994

$ 100

Would you do this project? According to our survey, 61% of respondents preferred DIY compared to hiring a pro.

The average price to Strip Varnished Woodwork noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself.

How much does it cost to remove varnish? The contractor charge for stripping varnished woodwork is $994 vs. doing it yourself for $100 and save 89 percent. 

We’ve spent many a day removing varnish from woodwork, and while the results can be stunning, it’s a messy, time-consuming job. The ideal place to do the job is outdoors to avoid the fumes from the remover. This works for doors which can be removed, but when the woodwork is molding or window and door casings, it makes sense to leave them intact and work on them in place, always with windows wide open. We’ve always had good luck removing layers of varnish on wood that has not been painted using a heat gun or Antique Refinisher by Minwax.

A professional refinisher will charge $994 to remove varnish from two windows and two doors, which includes the labor and material. You can do the job for $100 and save 89 percent for your effort.

To protect the walls and floor around the woodwork, go to great lengths to cover them with heavy vinyl drop cloths taped in place and covered by a heavy canvas drop cloth. You’ll need an old bristle brush, steel wool, scrapers, rags, and a can or box to contain the varnish removed from the scrapers and steel wool.

If you have to remove the woodwork to work on it you’ll have to find a protected and ventilated work area where you can store the woodwork as you do the work. It’s worth considering because it’s so much easier to remove the finish when the trim boards are lying on a flat horizontal surface as opposed to being on a wall. Use a pry bar to gently pull the trim boards away from the wall applying pressure at the nails holding it to the wall. When the boards are off, turn them on their backside and pound out the nails so they come out the face side of the trim. By using this technique the nail heads can’t split the wood.

Carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding ventilation and application, and wear old clothes, heavy vinyl gloves, eye protection and a respirator. When the varnish is removed, wash away any residue with mineral spirits. For a fine finish, we like tung oil because it’s easy to apply and provides a durable finish.

WikiHow suggests these steps to Strip Wood Finishes.

Wrapping up, given the average cost to strip varnished woodwork you can compare the price of a contractor’s bid with doing it yourself.

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.