How to Remove Paint

2-4 hours

Quickly and easily remove paint using chemical strippers or a heat gun

How to Remove Paint

Removing old paint can be challenging, but fear not. There are several options available to help make the process easier and safer. Chemical strippers are solvents that come in either liquid or paste and work by softening the old finish so that it can be easily removed. They are great for complex shapes such as moldings and many brands have low odors and clean up with water.

Heat guns are also a great way to remove old paint, varnish and other finishes. They are especially good at taking off multiple layers of paint all at once. The heat gun softens the paint causing it to bubble up making it easy to remove with a metal scraper.

This guide will walk you through the different options for quick and easy paint removal.

Safety: If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic and exposure to lead dust can cause serious illness, especially in children and pregnant women. Any removal of lead paint may also be subject to Federal and State regulations. Consult your local building authority for more information.



Apply Paint Stripper
Apply Paint Stripper - How to Remove Paint

• Pour a small amount of the stripper into a glass or metal container, and apply it as specified on the label.
• It's best to start at the top of your project, and work your way down. Take the time to work it into hard-to-reach places.

Remove Stripper
Remove Stripper - How to Remove Paint

Tip: Sprinkle a light coating of sawdust over the stripper just before you remove it. The sawdust thickens the stripper, making it easier to remove.

• Remove as indicated on manufacturer’s instructions.

Retreat Problem Areas
Retreat Problem Areas - How to Remove Paint

• Reapply the stripper to detailed or problem areas, and use specialty scrapers to remove the softened material.
• Use light pressure on the scrapers to keep from tearing or gouging the wood.
• If you can’t find a contoured scraper, use the corner of a putty knife.

Scrub to Remove Old Finish and Leftover Stripper
Scrub Remove Old Finish Leftover Stripper - How Remove Paint

Scrub the entire project with nylon brushes or abrasive pads to remove all traces of the old finish and the stripper sludge.  


Use Heat Gun on Surface
Use Heat Gun Surface  - How Remove Paint

• With the heat gun running, point the nozzle at the work surface, keeping it about 2 inches away.
• Move the gun back and forth across the surface until the paint begins to bubble and blister. Stop if the finish begins to smoke.

Scrape Off Old Finish
Scrape Off Old Finish  - How Remove Paint

Tip: Special paint scrapers with angled blades work better than most ordinary scrapers

• Hold the putty knife at about a 30-degree angle and use it like a plow to push the paint away. Avoid gouging the wood.

Address Problem Areas
Address Problem Areas - How Remove Paint

Go back over detailed areas with the heat gun, using a contoured scraper to get into narrow crevices.

Wipe Down
Wipe Down - How to Remove Paint

• Any stubborn flecks that remain can usually be removed by using just the scraper.
• When the paint is all gone, wash the surface with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits.