how to strip paint from wood

Cracks, binders, and blisters on your wood material are ruining the outlook of your entire house. You do not want to see this all anymore.

And in the state of rapid inflation, it will not be worth spending bundles of money on buying new furniture, which can cost an arm and leg to you.

The easy-to-go way for you is the paint-stripping process.

It will be handy to repair wood by coloring it again rather than replacing it with the new one. Now, how will you make it do? How will you remove paint from wood?

Remove the flakes to have polished paint on your wood. Now, you will say it is easier said than done.

Read ahead and know different how to strip paint from wood.

3 Points To Consider Before Getting Into Striping Paint From The Wood

1. Examine The Wood First

How will you make the process of stripping paint from wood easier? Doing a thorough examination, in the beginning, will help you to avoid hustle in the further process of removing paint and polishing wood.

So, consider enquiring about the quality of the wood before stripping the paint; since not all old woods are in an unbeatable state to use anymore. 

Make sure the wood is not rotted. 

Now, how will you check it?

Inspect for the fungus, spores, dust, must scent, or any damp wood. These all are the symptoms of rotted wood.

Not only rotted wood but also there are equal chances of your wood wet rot. Of course, moisture leads to wet rot. 

Test the wood by softly tapping it to enquire if it is softened. Buckling and shrinkages are appearable indicators of the wet root.

Now, what about its solution?

Get rid of the reason that moisturizes the wood and give it some time to dry before you start paint stripping. 

2. Think If You Need DIY Or a Professional

If you do not have plenty of time to do labor on removing paint from wood. Or you want to have work done with security. You have great options, whether to send wood to a professional or call a specialist to get the work done on-site.

3. Decide Which Tool Is The Best Suitable For The Wood

Which tool and method are the best to strip paint from wood?

It depends on the quality of the wood and the number of layers of paint. Check out the list of tools to scrape away paint from wood to know which one is the go-for method for you.

10 Different Methods To Strip Paint From Wood

There are different methods to strip paint from wood which includes the use of various tools and chemical for success.

Below we are sharing some of the best methods to strip paint from wood.

1. Stripping Paint With “Infrared Devices”

Infra red wood paint stripper
Infra-red paint stripper

As the name suggests, these devices use infrared rays to heat paint at high temperatures and loosen its grasping power from the wood. They work swiftly in seconds.

Benefits of infrared devices:

  • No excessive heat or scare of burning regarding infrared devices. As they hold down the paint temperature is less than 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • An infrared device withdraws all wetness from wood that improves the catching power of wood to be suitable for the new paint.


The only cons are they are bulky and not handy in narrow spaces.

2. Stripping Paint Using “Steam Strippers”

steam strip paint from wood

Usage of water vapor through steam strippers to loosen paint from wood. Unlike heat guns, there is no risk of fire. 

Using Steam Strippers, condensation leads to minimal fumes and dust. On the contrary, chances are for the wood to be saturated. 

3. Striping Paint With The Help Of “Paint Scrapers”

Paint scrapper

A conglomeration of paint scrapers is always handy to turn away gunk and dust and loosen the paint.

You can use a paint scraper with a particular edge according to the intricate design and shape of the wood.

 Suggestions regarding different types of scrapers:

  • Switch to metal pull scrapers to change their blades as per the surface to strip. If your steel blades have gone dull, hone it with a pocket stone or a mile file. 
  • You can use plastic scrapers rather than metal in case of a push scraper to revert from any hollow-out wood.
  • Carbide blades have a longer edge than steel, but they need to be resharpened using a diamond stone.
  • Scrapers having brass handles must be your first choice regarding the hard job of removing paint.

 An insightful tip:

  • To apply the scrapper lightly, rub it in the opposite direction of the wood grain.
  • While using the scraper vigorously, go in the same direction as the wood grain.

4. Use Heat Guns To Strip Off The Paint From Wood

Strip paint from wood using heat gun

Steps for Using the Heat Gun:

1. Switch the heat gun on and use it across a specific area

While using the heat gun, do not commit a blunder to keeping it in a specific area; as it produces heat to melt the old paint. So, bear in mind its high temperature.

Move it in a back-and-forth flow in a wide-ranging area rather than concentrating on a single space. Maintain a minimum distance of 2 inches from the wood surface.

2. Use your opposite hand to remove the paint

As the heat softens the sticky old paint, you can handle a metal paint scraper in the opposite hand to remove the filthy matter.

It is better to use a scraper at a 30-degree angle. You can easily manage the heating and scrapping simultaneously in a natural flow. Continue using the heat gun until old paint forms a bubble. Avoid not being hard while doing this.

3. Use It Again on leftover paint

You can repeat the process of using a heat gun and scraping loose paint until the old wood is cleaned perfectly. Pay special attention and reuse it in narrow areas.

4. Wash the wood

Wash the wood with a soft cloth containing mineral spirits to remove the leftover dirt and dust particles.

Some Additional Tips

  1. It is better to keep a fire extinguisher to use just in case of an emergency.
  2. To avoid accidental flaming and harmful vapors, keep at least a distance of 2 inches between the wood and the heat gun. Revolve it around a large area of wood.

5. Use a Pressure Washer To Remove The Paint

how to strip paint with pressure wash

You can go for the pressure water method to strip paint from wood. Definitely, using a pressure washer requires ample space to cleanse the wood.

The sturdy pressure to remove peeling paint should be 2,500 to 3,000 psi. To use the method effectively, wash along the grain constantly. Do not forget to put up safety glasses.

However, constant pressure water is not favorable for hardwood siding.

6. Use Mineral Spirits to Peel off Oil-Based Paint

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  • You can efficiently use mineral spirits to observe the expected results. For this, use cotton-absorbent mineral spirits.
  • 1st step: Dip the specific area of cotton in mineral spirits, that will contact the surface rather than soaking the entire cotton rag.
  • 2nd step: Rub and rinse the cotton to remove oil-based paint from the wood.
  • Last step: Whenever you see a clean wood surface, dry out the surface with other clean cotton tatters.

7. Using Vinegar To Remove Paint From Wood

remove paint using vineager

Vinegar is a multifaceted household material owing to its acidic properties. 

Use vinegar to remove paint robustly from wood.

Steps To Use Vinegar as A Wood Paint Cleaner:

  1. Pour purified vinegar into a pan containing water. Be mindful to add double the quantity of vinegar as compared to water.
  2. Place a pan on a stove or oven. 
  3. Following the warmth of the vinegar, keep cotton tatters in a pan to absorb the vinegar.
  4. Now, wipe the cotton-soaked vinegar on the wood surface. 
  5. Try peeling off the paint while rubbing for 15 minutes using the cotton. 
  6. If you observe the remaining old paint on the wood, repeat the process to remove it until the wood purifies to the mark.

8. Using Citrus-Based Paint Strippers

Citrus-based removers are made up of organic compounds: terpenes. Due to their organic compound property, they smell like oranges

Features that will stimulate you to use them: they are nontoxic and biodegradable.

How To Use?

Shake the can of citrus-based paint stripper; gush it out in the container. Then, apply the stripper with a paintbrush.

9. Sanding the wood to get the paint off from it

wood sending to strip paint from wood

The first step is to have a clean surface before sanding the surface. You can use a degreasing cleaner, water-absorbent rag, or household cleaner to have a spotless painted wood area and let it dry to make it suitable for sanding.

Following sanding the wood, polish it to take off any left-out debris. Clean the sanded wood appropriately to ensure it is residue-free before painting. 

Sanding can be your first step to remove flakes and paint blisters. And can be the step after stripping and scrapping. In brief, sanding can be done separately, and it requires to be done in the process of paint stripper, too.

Why should sanding be a part of removing paint from the wood?

  • Since it makes the surface smooth to paint effortlessly.
  • For tinny tasks and narrow spaces, go for a strip of sandpaper to approach effortlessly to chinks. 
  • Use power sander for colossal jobs
  • To have an immaculate wood surface free from dust, debris, and dirt.


  • Wear safety glasses and a face mask to have protection from dust particles.
  • Do it slowly and smoothly to avoid gauging in the wood.

It is your choice whether to do it manually or use the machine.

10. Using Paint Striping Chemicals

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The paint stripper is thick gel or paste. So, it ensures the paint removal process is free from gunk and dust. Chemical stripping is the best suitable for carved wood with intricate structures. It dissipates varnishes and paints with minimal roughness. That is comparatively faster than sanding. Use it to clean old paint from different shapes.

Apart from a list of benefits, it comes with two cons. : smelly and slow in the process.

Types of Paint Strippers

1. Biochemical:

Biochemical strippers are made from natural products, like wood pulp or citrus fruits though such strippers contain different industrial chemicals, for instance, NMP. Yes, it is pretty harmful. It comes mainly with two drawbacks. The first one is that it takes a lot of work and is not as powerful.

2. Caustic:

Caustic strippers are used to removing oil-based paints. They largely contain potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. The caustic word meaning is ‘ready to burn or dissolve organic tissue.’ As the caustic stripper is applied, it softens and melts the material and makes it easier to peel off paint from wood.

3. Solvent

Paint strippers, which lie under solvent type, are most perilous, especially if they contain methylene chloride. Other ingredients of solvent paint stripper are alcohol, acetone, and ketone mixtures. It is strong enough to separate the paint from the wood.

Make Sure to Take Out Nails

Be sure to pull out all types of hard materials like nails, screws, doorknobs, brackets, bolts, etc., and use painter’s tape to shield the hardware parts which can not be removed.

Why should you follow this step?

To secure hardware from chemical paint strippers. Cover all the fixed and immovable parts beforehand to use paint stripping.

Step By Step Guide To Use Pain Stripping Chemicals

  1. The first and foremost step is to quiver the can and then steam it into the container. Focus on applying it on small parts rather than stripping the entire wood at once. Start applying strippers from the top and come down as the process proceeds.
  2. After you have pasted the stripper on a wood surface, you can wait until 20 minutes or observe when its bubbles or peels are removed. Bubbles indicate the first layer of paint needs to be peeled.
  3. After peeling off, clean the wood surface with a cloth, mineral spirits, or water as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid being vigorous or regressive to protect your wood from being gauged. Use a scraper, putty knife, or wire brush as per your choice. It is better to use nylon brushes to remove marks of old paint. Remove carefully from large, round, and narrow sizes and curved shapes.
  4. You may have to reapply the stripper twice, thrice, or more until the complete paint is stripped off. It indeed depends on the type of used stripper and paint and the wood itself.
  5. The last step is to wash and sand the wood to avoid any residue and debris.


Paint stripping is somewhat messy work. So, use strippers outdoors. Keep them away from your eyes and skin.

Point to be noted:

The paint stripper needs a few hours to be settled if you have to remove numerous layers of paint. Do not be sluggish or ignorant to remove the stripper on the same day.

Otherwise, the dried stripper becomes too hard to scrap.

Safety Measures While Using Paint Strippers

  1. Ensure the safety of your face by putting up goggles and a mask covering your full face. 
  2. Put up old and loose clothes, in which you can be the most comfortable.
  3. An open and large area is preferable for chemical paint strippers because of the high chances of fumes. Otherwise, make better ventilation in the space where you are proceeding with the process: with open windows and doors.
  4. Lay a tarpaulin sheet or tarp, beneath the item you are removing paint. To ensure safety and revert from any destruction to your working area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, of course. You can save your hard-earned money by removing old paint and repainting the wood rather than buying the latest one.

The article contains the easiest and most natural ways to remove paint with a convenient introduction to using a paint stripper. You may have to repeat the paint removal process if the surface has multiple paint layers. In other ways, removing paint is not rocket science.

Causative strippers are recommended to peel the oil-based paint. Clean the wood appropriately before applying caustic strippers.

You can search for specific oil-based paint strippers in the market. However, VOCs are found in these. So, follow safety measures while using it.

Removing stains from wood is harder than stripping the paint. Use a chemical stain stripper by applying a thick layer of it.

Most of the steps to remove the stain using a stripper are similar to the process of dissipating paint. Scrap the surface, then mop its surface using steel wool. The last step is to sand it. 

Lead-contained paints are toxic and health hazardous. Disclosure of lead through removing paint can result in severe ailments, especially for pregnant women and children. Before 1978, there was a mixture of lead in paint. 

Contact your local building jurisdiction to get in-depth information.

Vinegar is a household good that can be used effectively to peel off the paint. The acidic nature of vinegar makes it suitable for a paint removal act.

You can follow the methods from the article. And, yes, this process can be repeatable depending on the number of layers to be removed and how old the paint is

Winding Up

You can easily remove the paint from the wood by following all the guidelines and using the right tools and methods. View the situation of the wood, if it is too old to use. You can buy a new piece rather than labor work on an archaic piece. 

However, if the traditional wood is usable and decors your room. You can choose any chemical-free method, like sanding, using vinegar and citrus-based stripper to dissipate old paint.

The other best option is using the paint stripper while keeping in mind all suggestions.

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