To make an old piece of wood look all shiny and fresh, it is important to know how to remove paint from wood. It is really not advisable to add fresh paint on old wood as it makes it looks rough and ugly.
Removing paint from wood can be time-consuming and messy. However, the effort put into the work is not wasted; the results are worth every time spent on the task.
Luckily, we’ve listed out the basic steps on how to remove paint from wood without damaging the wood in the process. Remember that the edges will always look difficult to work around when using paint strippers to remove paint.
1. Types of Wood to Strip
It is very easy to strip any kind of wood with a paint remover as long as you make use of the appropriate products. Listed below are the suitable woods for stripping:
- Skirting boards
- Stair rails
- Indoor and outdoor furniture
- Built-in furniture
- Window frames
There are a few things to look out for before starting out paint stripping.
Inspect the Wood
Ensure that you properly inspect the wood you’ll be working on before you go to buy a paint stripper. You can just discard the wood if you discover that the wood is cracked or severely damaged.
In a situation where you want to repaint your window frames and you find out that they are in really bad shape, it is better that you replace them instead of stripping and repainting the window frames.
There are key ways to carry out wood inspection successfully:
1. Look out for spore dust, damp or musty smell, and bodies of fungus during inspection for dry rot.
2. Since wet rot is pronounced in areas where there is a high level of moisture and humidity, it can be detected by signs of shrinkage.
Once the inspection is done, make sure that large cracks in the wood be treated right away. Although, smaller cracks can be filled with wood filler, ensure that I can use the wood filler outdoors.
Check for Lead Before Stripping
Make sure to check for lead before removing paint from wood as it is very toxic and injurious to the health. It is advisable to call for professional help if you discover any traces of lead paint in the wood.
You can also visit the Environmental Protection Agency website for guides on how to cautiously remove it.
To prevent the accumulation of fumes, make sure there is enough air in the area before applying the paint stripper. When using paint strippers, you should also protect yourself by using, safety glasses, gloves, closed-toe shoes, a mask, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.
2. How To Remove Paint from Wood
Before we go into the process of how to remove paint from wood, let’s look at some of the materials needed to carry out the project effectively.
- Paint stripper
- Wire brush
- Paint roller
- Painters tape
2.1. Using Chemical Paint Strippers
Chemical paint strippers make use of chemicals to remove and dissolve paint bonds, changing the paint into a fluid-like solution. This is convenient because it is easy to wipe off and does not produce dust.
In as much as chemical strippers are easy to apply, you should be aware that they contain chemicals that are harmful to your health. You should always remember to read the instructions given by the manufacturer to be on the safe side.
It is also advisable to put on long sleeves and closed-toe shoes as they could get messy during work.
Wondering how to use it?
1. Look for the paint stripper that is perfect for wood and ensure that you carefully follow the guidelines and applications that come with it.
2. Endeavour to put protective equipment like gloves, safety goggles, long sleeves, and the like in place before you use a chemical stripper.
2.2. Using Sanding Paint
A rough, covered gritty tool is used to sand paint, catch the paint, and strip it away. This procedure releases dust particles, hence it must always be carried out outdoors while wearing the appropriate mask.
When it comes to sanding paint, be extremely cautious. Do not use sanding on lead paint because it could scatter particles of lead into the atmosphere which is injurious to the health.
Wondering how to go about it?
1. Ensure to use a sanding tool or sandpaper when sanding.
2. Do not forget to wear a mask during sanding
2.3. Using a Pressure Washer
They are actually not the best when it comes to the removal of paint but can function effectively in a lower-pressure setting. To carry out this method, the washer should be at a range of 2500 to 3000 psi.
It is advisable to make use of close-toed shoes and safety goggles when carrying out this work.
2.4. Using Heat Guns
You should be very careful when using a heat gun because it can damage wood and set it on fire. They are mainly used for large surfaces as they are pretty easy to use.
However, you should practice how to use it before you begin your project to avoid any form of mishap.
Follow these steps to use:
1. To sweep the heat gun above the paint will require setting the nozzle about two inches above the painted surface.
2. Use a paint scraper to remove the paint after it begins to peel off the surface
3. To be on the safe side, make use of heat-resistant gloves and put on long sleeves. Don’t forget your fire extinguisher in case of any fire outbreak.
2.5. Using Vinegar
Vinegar makes paint bonds soft and easy to remove. This non-toxic solution doesn’t necessarily remove all the paint but it is a more natural approach than a paint stripper.
Follow these steps to use:
1. The first step is to boil the vinegar on a stove and then rub it on the wood surface with a brush.
2. Wait for a few minutes to scrape off the paint. You can repeat the process if you notice that there is still some paint left.
2.6. Using Paint Scraper
This method is more difficult and time-consuming in paint removal. Paint scrapers are simple to use especially for jobs that do not require large surfaces.
3. Types of Chemical Wood Strippers
There are two different types of chemical wood strippers namely; Caustic and solvent paint removers.
3.1. Caustic Removers
They are the best to use when it comes to removing really thick layers of paint. They are affordable and make work easier and faster. Unlike solvent removers, they give off fewer fumes.
Caustic products typically include a very potent alkaline that can react with the chemicals in the wood to scorch or discolor it. This occurs mostly with thick woods like mahogany wood and other types of oak like old oak.
Caustic removers are basically;
- Ideal to remove heavy paint accumulation
- The best to use for stripping pine doors
- Suitable to be used on stone, metal, and plaster and not suitable on aluminum.
- Significant for complicated moldings.
3.2. Solvent-Based Removers
A solvent remover helps off all kinds of paint and is used in the antique trade because they don’t cause any form of damage to the wood. They do not discolor the wood, and solvents perfectly clean up the wood.
Since it works perfectly, you are likely to use more of it. Unlike caustic removers, they are expensive. Solvents should be used in an airy environment because of the strong odor it oozes. It is preferably used outdoors.
Solvent removers basically;
- Gives you the perfect look
- Are expensive and somewhat messy to use
- Ideal stripping paint for old items like a beam
- Cause no form of damage
4. Easy Steps to Remove Paint from Wood
After putting materials like steel wool, sandpaper, mineral spirits, and a paint stripper of your choice in place, follow these easy steps to remove paint from wood.
4.1. Step One
The first step to paint stripping is to ensure that the wood you want to work on is worth the stress. This is essential if you’re planning to finish the wood with a clear coat or a stain. Look for a way to scrape to the bottom layer to confirm will look better when exposed.
4.2. Step Two
The next step is to test the paint for lead. If you’re working on an old piece of furniture, there’s every possibility that the paint might contain lead. You can use a lead swab test kit to test before stripping.
If you’ve discovered that the paint contains lead, call for professional help. It can be tasked to do all of the work so it’s advisable to seek an extra hand.
4.3. Step Three
Make sure that you purchase all the necessary protective equipment for the job. You’ll have to decide on the brands of strippers you’ll be buying as this is very important. You’ll also need scrappers and sandpaper to remove the paint. Get your mask, safety glasses, and gloves.
4.4. Step Four
The next step is to apply a paint stripper on the wood by following the instructions from the manufacturers. Most times, you’ll be instructed to brush on the stripper and use brushstrokes in a particular direction. However, you should note that the stripper will not work effectively with a thin layer.
A little advice:
If your stripper is eco-friendly and isn’t strong enough, it is advisable to wrap the entire piece in a plastic coat after you’ve applied the first coat. You should be patient and wait for about 24 hours to get the best results.
4.5. Step Five
Immediately you see bubbles on the first layer of paint, it’s ready for stripping. You can confirm by gently peeling off a corner of the wood. You should know that you shouldn’t leave the stripper and paint for too long on the wood.
4.6. Step Six
You should gently use a metal putty knife to scrape layers of the paint. Be careful here and not be too aggressive as you could damage the wood.
Don’t be too eager to remove paint at once. Gently work on the wood to strip paint. You can also reapply the stripper if the need arises.
4.7. Step Seven
The next step is to either use a cloth or mineral spirits to wipe off the remaining stripper once you’ve gotten out the paint from the wood. Adhere to the instructions from the manufacturers to be on the safe side.
4.8. Step Eight
If you find out that there are still some spots on the wood, use steel wool dipped in mineral spirits to get it all out. Steel wool is ideal for removing more stains and paint.
4.9. Step Nine
After you’ve removed the paint to your satisfaction, the final step is to prepare the wood for refinishing. You can rub some paint thinner on the wood, dry the wood and smoothen the edges.
5. How to Remove Paint from Wood Floors
When working on a painting project, there are situations where the paint stick to the floor and you’ll want to remove them.
You can make use of a rag or cloth to wipe off the paint while it’s still wet. Kindly follow these instructions for better results.
5.1. Step One
Dip a cotton ball in isopropyl alcohol and wipe it all over the paint splatter
5.2. Step Two
Inspect the cotton ball for paint splatter and if you didn’t find any, it means that it is an oil-based paint. If you see any form of remains, it is a water-based paint.
5.3. Step Three
Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water. Then, dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and scrub the paint-splattered area. If it proves stubborn to remove, you can use the edge of a knife to gently scrape it away.
5.4. Step Four
If the paint refuses to go away, apply heat to soften up the paint. It is advisable to use soap and water to wipe it off afterward. A hand dryer can be very useful in this method.
You can also use a paint thinner or remover if using heat doesn’t work out. Please ensure that the room is well-ventilated to carry out this project.
6. How to Remove Paint from Wood Door
It is not so difficult to strip paint from the wood door, follow these steps for a perfect result;
6.1. Step One
Take out the door and lay the door flat on a pair of sawhorses outside or in a well-ventilated workspace. Use a screwdriver to remove all the hardware. If it has windows, tape them and use masking paper to cover them.
6.2. Step Two
The next step is to pour a good quantity of solvent-based stripper into a clean bucket. Since most of the solvents are harmful when inhaled, endeavor to put on a nose mask for safety.
6.3. Step Three
With the use of an old paintbrush, freely apply the stripper to the side of the door that is facing up. Then, leave it to work for about 20 minutes.
Using a paint scraper, remove as much of the softened paint as you can when it begins to bubble and peel off. Don’t try so hard to remove the paint from the wood, just be gentle. You can put all the scraps in an old newspaper or discard them.
6.4. Step Four
Apply another layer of stripper on the door and scrape it off. Do this as many times as possible till you’re left with discolored wood.
Then paint the residue on the sides of the door. You can also gently brush lightly to minimize scratches on the wood with a paint remover for wood.
6.5. Step Five
Dip a rag with water or the solvent for the stripper and wipe off the door. Don’t forget to put on protective clothing while carrying out this project.
It might be difficult to carry out this job but if you suspect any presence of lead paint, raise awareness and seek professional help.
Once you’re done with the paint removal, thoroughly sand the door before you proceed to refinish. You shouldn’t use a torch during this process as it could start a fire.
The steps listed above can be applied to how to remove paint from wood furniture and how to remove paint from wood ceilings.
7. Bottom Line
Once have the right knowledge and follow the steps, you’ll discover that it’s not difficult to remove paint from wood.
One thing you should put into consideration before you begin this project is the cost of materials and how they are used. This will make work smooth and efficient. We highly recommend that you make use of protective clothing and equipment to prevent the occurrence of a disaster.
We are sure you found this information useful. Don’t hesitate to share with friends and leave a comment below. Best regards!
8. Frequently Asked Questions
These are the frequently asked questions by those who want to know how to remove paint from wood.
8.1. Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?
Removing paint from wood with vinegar helps a great deal as it softens the paint on the wood. It is also non-toxic and a very good alternative to the chemical stripper.
8.2. How to Remove Paint from Wood Without Sanding
To remove paint from wood without sanding, you have to go through these methods;
- Chemical-based paint remover method
- The heat gun method
- Baking soda and vinegar method
- Paint scraper method
8.3. How to Remove Paint from Wood Trim
1. First, put on all protective clothes before you being work
2. Using a paintbrush, apply the paint stripper to the trim and leave for over 30 minutes to settle in.
3. Once this is done, scrape away the softened paint with a scraper. Then, you sand the trim with sandpaper or a grit foam sanding block to clean the paint.