This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Stickers are awesome, whether you’re supporting a cause or letting everyone that drives behind you know that you have a baby on board, stickers allow us to express ourselves and even make one another laugh. Although they’re fun, some messages don’t age very well, stickers become a bit battered, and some become a bit long in the tooth, but how do you get them off? They’re called stickers, after all, so whether you’re trying to get some embarrassing band stickers off your bedpost or removing some badly faded stickers from your bedroom cupboards, let’s have a look at the best way to go about removing them without damaging your wooden surfaces.
Table of Contents
- 1 When Would You Need to Remove Stickers From Wood?
- 2 How to Remove Stickers from Wood Surfaces
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
When Would You Need to Remove Stickers From Wood?
It might seem a bit abstract as a problem, but at some point, you’ve likely tried to remove a sticker from some wood and found that most (if not all) of the sticker has been left behind. Here are a few instances where you’d find that you might need to remove stickers from a wood surface in your day-to-day life.
While this might seem counterproductive to their point of selling furniture, some manufactures simply cannot resist selling you furniture with stickers that let you know exactly how durable, high quality, and environmentally friendly their stickers are.
Although this does seem to conflict with the environmentally friendly claim they’re making, stickers do a good job of relaying facts and important information quickly and effectively, although they can be a bit tough to remove, especially if they have been stained or varnished. Simply scraping stickers off your wooden furniture won’t cut it, you could make the situation worse, or damage your new furniture.
Maybe you’re thinking about refinishing some furniture that someone threw out, or maybe you’ve been given some old furniture from a friend or relative. Either way, there’s a chance that there are some stickers on them that have been around for years and have practically become load-bearing components at this point.
The problem is that besides stickers being an eyesore, the longer a sticker is attached to a wooden surface, the harder it is to remove. Just like stickers on new furniture, removing stickers from old furniture poses a significant risk to the wood, but if your intention is to refinish the wood then you have some leeway with the amount of force you can use to remove those pesky stickers.
This is arguably the worst scenario to encounter in sticker removal. If you’re trying to promote your brand or simply want to pop a sticker you like on a wooden workpiece, placing a sticker incorrectly would be one of the reasons that you would have to remove a sticker. The sticker may also have sentimental value that has outlived the object it is attached to, in which case you may want to remove the sticker intact.
The trouble with this scenario is that you like the sticker, therefore the technique you use to remove has to preserve both the sticker and the workpiece it’s adhered to. Walking this line is tough, and patience is key to ensuring the survival of your wooden surface and precious sticker friend, and although it may be tough, just remember that it will be worth it once your sticker has been positioned perfectly.
Stickers are cool until they aren’t. While this typically doesn’t happen with wooden surfaces, I’m sure we have all tried removing old stickers from our laptops and PCs before we sell them, and let’s be honest nobody wants to buy something that’s been personalized to that degree by a complete stranger.
Many of the same techniques you would use to remove stickers from wooden surfaces can be applied to plastics as well, just be careful not to warp, corrode, or damage the surfaces of your electronics while attempting to remove said stickers. If you do a good job, you could be one your way to selling on your old electronics or furnishings and putting a little extra cash in your pocket, and who wouldn’t want that?
How to Remove Stickers from Wood Surfaces
Now that you know which scenarios you’d encounter and where you would find a sticker on wood, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to show you how to remove stickers from wood. Here are a few ways you can go about removing stickers from your wooden surfaces without damaging them, and in certain cases even save the sticker you’re removing. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the best ways you can go about removing stickers from your wooden surfaces.
Using a Hairdryer
This seems so straightforward that you might be kicking yourself for not thinking about it, using a hairdryer is one of the easiest ways to get stickers off wooden surfaces by using some things that are readily available to most of us. How do you use it to get rid of unwanted stickers though?
Set the hairdryer to its lowest power setting and aim it at the sticker in question, allow the sticker to heat up and as it does, you’ll notice that it might start to bubble up in the middle and around the edges. Once it is all bubbled up, remove the sticker using a stiff object, just ensure that the object you choose is not sharp or you’ll risk damaging your workpiece. Pull the sticker loose slowly and treat the spot the sticker was on with a damp cloth, some optional soap, and then dry and polish the spot in question.
Using Vegetable Oil
When finding a sticker on wood your first thought might not be to use vegetable oil to remove it from the surface. Then again, finding a sticker on wood and trying to remove it isn’t exactly a conventional activity, is it? So, how do we go about this?
Well, it’s a lot like using the hairdryer, simply apply an even layer of oil over the surface of the sticker, edge to edge preferably, and allow it to soak in and completely saturate the surface of the sticker. The tricky part is getting the now oil-soaked sticker off the wooden workpiece, to which we recommend using a stiff instrument, and again, nothing that’s too sharp.
Once you have the majority of the sticker off, simply use a cloth to remove the remaining residue and once again give the surface a good wipe down with a damp cloth, before drying it off again and polishing the area with the sticker once occupied.
Using Alcohol Solvent
While we usually use alcohol for wounds and/or having a good time, it can be used as a solvent to remove various surface coatings, adhesives, and even plant life under the right circumstances. Alcohol then has been around for many years and has always been a sort of helping hand to us, and once again it will be your knight and shining armor.
Alcohol works really well at removing stickers from a wooden surface. Why? Well, as we mentioned previously it works as a solvent for loads of things, and just like it does with other substances, it assists in dissolving the bond between the sticker and the surface in question, while simultaneously causing the sticker itself to disintegrate.
Simply add some alcohol to the cloth or sponge and rub it over the sticker in a circular motion, this ensures that the alcohol penetrates the sticker uniformly and saturates the sticky residue underneath. No scraping is needed with this one too, just wipe what’s left of the sticker off with a cloth as soon as possible to ensure there is no damage to your finish.
This works sort of the same way that the alcohol does, with the only difference being that vinegar doesn’t take it quite as easy on your surface. You have to keep your eyes peeled and you’re timing clinical. Why? Vinegar might seem less volatile compared to alcohol but in reality, vinegar is acidic, and alcohol is not, this means that while alcohol might deface your finish a bit, vinegar will eat it right up.
While it might seem counterintuitive, apply your vinegar directly to the sticker and let it set in for about five minutes, make sure not to over-apply the vinegar, just use enough to cover the surface of the sticker in question. Once it’s been soaked in nicely, use a stiff (preferably plastic) object to lift and remove the remainder of the sticker from the wooden surface without scratching it.
Remember to neutralize the vinegar with some soap and water to ensure that it doesn’t damage your wooden surface, and if you still aren’t happy or there’s still some sticker leftover, just repeat the process until all the residue has disappeared.
Using Adhesive Tape
Don’t have any time to waste? Is that sticker on wood mocking you? We hear you, and we will show you how to get sticky residue off wood while unleashing some of that frustration. Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to set your workpiece on fire, we’re just going to suggest you use some tape. Stickiness got you into his mess and it’s stickiness that’s going to get you out. This technique works best on older stickers that have already been partially removed but a few stubborn pieces still remain.
Take a piece of tape and firmly apply it to your trouble area, ensuring that you flatten the tape out with the palm of your hand or a stiff plastic object, and then rip it off as fast as you can. Repeat this process until all of the sticker has been removed from your wooden surface.
This answers the question “how to get sticky residue off wood” without the need for solvent, soap, water, or alcohol, which is always a good thing as it means less mess and less clean-up at the end of the day.
Using Hot Water
If you have ever tried removing wood stickers before this might have been one of your go-to solutions, and who could blame you? Soap removes things and it typically dissolves paper, which takes care of the wood stickers and the residue they leave behind. Two birds with one stone, but you might not know that there’s a better way to use soapy water to remove the sticker adhesive.
The trick here is to use warm water, and if you’re lucky enough to be saddled with a smaller workpiece you can soak the section of the workpiece with the sticker on it in the warm soapy water as long as your workpiece is sealed and/or will not be compromised by submersion.
If your wooden object is larger, apply your warm soapy water to the sticker with a cloth or sponger and allow it to soak for three minutes, repeating this process until your sticker is completely saturated with said water. Next, use your hand or something resembling a spatula (not metal) to remove the sticker from the surface of the wood, and use some baby oil to remove the sticker adhesive that has been left behind.
If you find yourself battling to remove label glue or branding stickers that just won’t come off, we recommend using this as your last resort. Now, this isn’t because it’s particularly dangerous for the wooden surface, but acetone can be really harmful to your health compared to some of the other solvents we have mentioned here so far.
Ensure that your workspace is well ventilated whenever you’re working with acetone, in addition to wearing a mask and gloves to ensure no damage to your skin or respiratory system. For this one, you’re going to want to get rid of as much of the sticker as possible using your hands or a plastic tool, and once you’re gotten as much off as you can, get your acetone ready.
Soak a cloth in acetone and rub the area where the remainder of the sticker is situated, and then clean up the residue with a wet cloth. Once it’s been removed, dispose of the acetone-soaked cloth appropriately as it can be considered a fire hazard. As we mentioned previously, this should be your last resort in attempting to remove label glue.
Now that you know what circumstances would lead you to remove label glue, what you would need to remove stickers from, and how you would go about removing them, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to always be patient and consider what your surface will look like when you’re done, and to always work in well-ventilated areas when working with solvents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Remove Stickers Without Damage?
While it can be really frustrating to remove stickers, you can remove them from wood without damaging the surface. There are loads of methods available, some using solvents and some that don’t, to ensure that stickers can be safely removed from your workpiece.
What Is the Best Way to Remove Stickers?
There is a lot of disagreement about the best way to remove stickers, but the reality is that the best way to do so is with a combination of solvents and plastic utensils. This ensures that the workpiece is safe and the sticker and the adhesive underneath it is nice and soft before you remove them from the surface in question.
Can You Remove and Reuse Stickers?
If you have ever wanted to remove a sticker but you want to keep it, or maybe you just want to put it somewhere different, it is entirely possible. Use a heat gun to heat up the adhesive beneath the sticker, then lift (not scrape) the sticker off slowly, starting at the edges and working your way towards the center, until the sticker has been removed.