DIY: No experience needed

January 13, 2021 | Posted by Karen Hansen Apfelbaum

I am not an expert refinisher, I told my new bosses at Franmar. Not even close. I’ve
stripped stain just once or twice, and couldn’t recall ever stripping paint. But that was
the point, they said. Who better than a newbie like me to show people how safe, easy
and effective Franmar products are to use? And what better way for me to understand
the products I will help to market than by trying them myself?

So two days after I was hired, I brought home two products from Franmar’s consumer
line - BLUE BEAR® SafenolTM Paint & Urethane Stripper and BLUE BEAR® Soy GelTM
Paint & Urethane Stripper - and pondered a DIY project.

I chose a petite wooden bookcase that dates back to my childhood. I think at one point it
was in the playroom my sister and I shared as youngsters, painted deep red, probably
by my Mom, who loved DIY in all its many forms. At some point as an adult, maybe 20
years ago, I reclaimed it for use in my own home and hid the red with a coat of black
paint to make it more neutral. It was small, simple and ready for a new look. And if somehow I messed it up, it
wouldn’t be the end of the world.


I emptied it of books and craft patterns, and brought it out to the garage to begin the
makeover. Both of the products I used are gel-based and the essence of their directions
was straightforward: spread on a medium to thick coat of the paint stripper so it stays
wet and working, and check progress with a metal scraper. Don’t be afraid of leaving it
on to carry out its magic; longer is better.

Both gels were easy to apply - I just poured them out and dabbed into place with a
paint brush - and stayed intact on the bookcase sides. Because I have something of a
sensitive nose, I was overjoyed by the absence of any noxious odor. I didn’t wear a
mask and could just breathe normally. I was in the garage with the door open because it
was an unseasonably warm day, but I could have just as easily done the work in my
kitchen or basement. There would be no smell to permeate the house or bother my
husband and pets.

I worried that the paint was old and the colors were deep and might be stubborn. But it didn’t take long for me to see progress. As I completed covering the exterior with BLUE BEAR Safenol Paint & Urethane Stripper and transitioned to the interior, where I also sampled the BLUE BEAR Soy Gel Paint & Urethane Stripper, I could already see the beginning of “scaling,” or bubbling up, in the outer layer of black paint.

I admit that visible progress made me a bit anxious and initially I scraped too soon,
removing only the black layer. Seeing red, literally, I chided myself for my impatience,
spread on a bit more, and went back inside to work for a bit.

That’s actually one of the great things about both products - in most situations, they are great for people who like to multi-task. Just cover your project with enough gel so it won’t dry out and walk away. Meet a friend for lunch or play a round of golf; it will work while you play.

When I returned to the garage later that afternoon, I saw that time was indeed my
friend. I nudged my metal scraper along the top of the bookcase, and gelled strips of old paint glided over the wood and down the sides. My husband was impressed. Removal was easy - and so much better for us and Mother Earth. Both BLUE BEAR Safenol
Paint & Urethane Stripper and BLUE BEAR Soy Gel Paint & Urethane Stripper are free
of methylene chloride - a dangerous chemical that can cause cancer and other harmful health effects. That matters.

The whole experience left this novice feeling like something of a pro. I was amazed at
how effortless it really was, and how well both paint strippers worked on the bookcase. I think sometimes there is a perception that “green” products can be a struggle, because they are somehow less powerful than harsher chemicals, but that just wasn’t my
experience at all. These products work and work great for beginners.

And I’ve gained a new-found confidence that already has me contemplating my next
project: new life for a wooden toy box from my playroom that I recently took home when Dad sold his house. Newbie no more!


Karen Hansen Apfelbaum works in the marketing department at Franmar and would love to blog about your experiences using Franmar products! She can be reached at