Firstly, not all strippers are equal. There are different formulations for paints, stains, varnishes, epoxy and other finishes. Although it may be tempting to use whatever is to hand they are not interchangeable.
The same applies to surfaces. Some strippers are designed for wood, while others are specifically made for metal, masonry or some other finish. Always ensure you have the right product for the job before you begin. Using the wrong one can damage the surface you are working on irreparably, so it is worth spending time getting it right.
You will also need to consider the area you are working on in order to decide on the best application method. For example, if you’re stripping a chair or similar piece of furniture, you should start at the top and work down as it makes uniform application of the stripper easier.
If you are revamping kitchen cabinets or cupboard doors, consider removing them first and laying them flat. It will make your life much easier as you will be able to apply an even coat, and it will be easier to remove the stripper after it has done its work. If you can’t lay the item flat, then as a general rule, a thick stripper will adhere better to vertical surfaces making the job somewhat easier.
Bear in mind that this can be a time consuming job! It is not a case of applying the stripper and wiping it away. It needs time to work properly, so ensure that you allow for this in your schedule, and set yourself realistic deadlines for the job at hand.
The most important thing to remember that these are chemicals and pretty harsh ones at that, so it is imperative that you take proper safety precautions and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, bring the items to be stripped outdoors. Failing that ensure you are working in a well ventilated area.
Some of the base ingredients of strippers can cause serious health issues if they are not treated with respect. Always wear safety goggles, gloves and a mask when working with strippers, even mild ones because as always safety comes first.