How do you remove paint from wood?

Removing paint from wooden furniture, staircases, fences or gates in the garden is a task that you can easily do yourself, and it can save you a lot of money too. What’s the best way to remove old paint from wood?

In one of our previous articles, we talked about how to paint interior walls in five steps. This article discusses how best to remove the old paint from wood before applying a new layer — whether it is an old cupboard, gate, or fence that you want to restore in the garden and give a new look with a fresh coat of paint. Removing paint from wood is not only an easy job, but it will save you money too.

Removing paint from wood

What’s the best way to remove old paint from wood? There are four ways you can try: chemical stripping with a paint stripper, a paint scraper, sanding, or a heat gun. Depending on the type of wood and its condition, you can choose either one or a combination of these four methods to remove paint from wood. Removing paint from wood is pretty easy anyway, no matter which option you choose.

Chemically strip paint with paint stripper

To remove paint, you can use chemical strippers or natural products. While chemical strippers will get the job done quickly, many of them are also highly toxic to humans and the environment. Therefore, always use a protective mask, safety goggles, and safety gloves. Natural products are usually a lot safer, biodegradable and are an alternative to, for example, methylene chloride, methanol, sodium hydroxide or pyrrolidones.

remove paint with paint stripper

Strippers use powerful chemicals to remove the paint from the wood in just 15 to 30 minutes. Apply the paint remover to the wood surface with a paintbrush to allow the product to set in. After the paint remover has been used, you will need a solvent to clean and prepare the surface to apply a new coat of paint. Some common solvents include turpentine, methylated spirits, xylene, lacquer thinner, acetone and methyl ethyl ketone.

Tip: Improper use of chemical strippers can damage the respiratory tract, brain, nervous system and skin. So be very cautious and attentive!

Remove paint with a paint scraper or sandpaper

Removing paint with a paint scrapersandpaper, or sander can be a tedious job. Using a manual paint scraper or sandpaper is an old reliable way to remove paint, but it can take a long time. You will find paint scrapers of various sizes and designs. The most commonly used paint scraper is the triangle scraper and is perfect for removing small pieces of paint.

removing paint with a paint scraper

Once you’ve removed the thickest layers of paint with a paint scraper, you can use a sander or sandpaper to remove any remaining areas. Along with removing old paint layers, sanding is done to make the surface flat so that you can apply a new layer of paint afterwards. Read our article “Which sandpaper do I need for which job?” to find out which grit is best suited for which tasks.

Tip: To get the paint off easily, you might want to use the paint scraper along with a heat gun, as described below.

Remove paint with a heat gun

A third way to remove paint from wood is using a heat gun. The heat that the gun generates causes the paint to melt and, it is much easier to scrape off with a paint scraper than when the paint is dry. The hot air generated by a heat gun can reach temperatures of 500 degrees or more, so be careful not to burn yourself and always use heat resistant gloves.

Removing paint with a heat gun

Hot air guns are popular and powerful tools that make painters work a lot easier. To remove the paint from wood, heat a small area with a heat gun and simply scrape off the heated paint. Facom’s digital hot air paint stripper comes with two different nozzles and has a wide LCD screen that facilitates temperature configuration.

Tip: Place a bucket of water next to you in case the wood smolders or starts to burn.

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