What is the best way to remove paint from wood?


After a while, the paint used on the surface of wood becomes old and unattractive and will need to be replaced. But, before replacing, you will need to get the current paint off first. There are three common ways to strip paint from wood, and they are sanding, heating and chemical stripping, and each method come with a handful of the method you can choose from. We know you might be worried about which method to choose, but don’t worry, we have made the plan out to make your job easier and guide you through.

You need to know if it is good to expose the wood

A painting contractor and TOH contributor Rich O’Neil said: “If you’re hoping to expose woodwork and finish it with a clear coat instead of paint, you need to determine whether it was originally varnished or painted.” He suggested that you look inside the drawer or closest to find a hidden spot, then you can test the patch through the various layers of paint by using a scraper to shave through. You will know if the wood is unworthy of stain if the bottom wood is paint.

Know if a professional or a DIY is needed

In trying to remove paint from wood, it is important you determine if the job needs a little expertise or a more experienced hand. If it is too big, then you have a couple of options

Send it out

Sending it out to a professional is only applicable if the wood can be easily detached like windows and doors, and they have intricate detailing. A professional with a dip tank will be the best man for the job, because the dip tank removes paint easily and faster, and is very efficient.

Hire in

Hiring in is the choice most people prefer because it helps you monitor the work and make real-time changes. It is best if you have furniture or materials which can not be detached or need special attention. There are various websites available to help you find professionals online to make the job easier.

Have the right tools

Heaters are usually the first choice in this kind of situation because they make layers of paint softer for removal by using high temperature, after which a scraper can easily remove them. Using heaters is best when you want to lift old paintings and they also minimize dust, although one major downside is the fumes it produces and your wood might be charred.

Chemical Strippers

Liquid, pastes or gels that can be used o dissolve paint are regarded as chemical strippers. They are great for materials with awkward shapes, better details, and getting to spots the heat gun might have missed. It is important to know that using chemical strippers can be messy, slow and smelly.


Sanders is used to grinding away paints, and they include clapboards sanders and power sanding disk. They are the ideal choice for an exterior surface that is large and flat. It is best used for outdoor works because of the large amount of dust it produces, but if you attaché it to a vacuum, then it can be used indoors.

Tools used to remove paint

Heat Gun

Over time, heat has been found to soften thick layers of paints and can also be used to remove paints found in tight spaces. The difficult task of using these tools is getting the right temperature. If the temperature is too high, it can damage the wood, and if it is too low, then it will take a very long time to get the paint off. While using the heat gun, be careful not to let the gun rest on the surface of the wood too long because it can damage the wood and in some extreme cases cause a fire. Heat guns come with controls that can be used to regulate the temperature, so finding the right temperature for your wood should not be difficult.

Infrared Devices

Infrared devices work by using infrared rays to loosen the bond of the paint and the material by heating it. It is great for indoor use because it doesn’t generate noise or dust, and it is very effective. A decade-old paint can be softened in 30 seconds by using an infrared device. Wood ignites above 500°F, and they help keep the paint temperature below that, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your wood. The ability of the wood to hold paint is improved because the heat removes moisture from the wood. One downside is that an infrared device is bulky and can be difficult to move around.

Steam strippers

Using a steam stripper eliminates fire risk and damage to your wood because it softens paint by using water vapour, and it doesn’t go above 212 degrees F. Using a steam stripper minimizes fumes and dust. Still, it can generate a lot of moisture which can saturate the wood and make it difficult to hold new paint.

Using paste and gels to remove paint

Using chemical methods to remove paint can be dangerous, and if methylene chloride is absent, then it will be safe but slow. Below you will find a list of chemical materials that can be used to remove paints from wood, and they contain less noxious ingredients, less toxic, and they can be used to remove both oil and latex paint.

SmartStrip: contains Benzyl alcohol and one coat is capable of removing up to 15 layers of paint.

Peel Away: contains Lye and removes 30 layers of paint easily

Citristrip: contains N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone and seven layers of paint can be removed with a ⅛-inch coat of paint.

Paint Scrapers 101

You cant completely get paint off a wood without using paint scrapers. Below you will find a list of toll scrapers that can be helpful.

A 5-in-1 paint scraper which is popularly called the “painters tool” because of its curved edge that can be used to clean a paint roller.

Metal pull scrapers which come with detachable blades which can be easily changed to suit your intended surface.


Getting rid of old paint is something that should be done often. Some tools have been listed above to help make the job easier, and they are easy to operate. If you follow the article above carefully, then you should not have any problem getting rid of your old paint.