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How to Strip Paint From Wood?

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Painting wood is a great way to change the look of an old piece, but stripping paint from wood takes careful consideration.

It can be a daunting task for those who have never done it before and even more difficult if you are unsure what type of finish is on the furniture.

Removing paint from wood takes time and patience, but in the end, will give your piece new life and beauty.

Step-by-Step Guide on Removing Paint from Wood

Here we will show you how to strip paint without damaging your bare wood! Our foolproof tips for peeling paint from wood will help simplify the process for any DIYer.

Important Tools to Strip Paint from Wood

  • Paint scraper or putty knife for removing old paint from the wood surface.
  • Sandpaper or paint brush or wire brush to remove stubborn areas of loose varnish paint.
  • Paint thinner, mineral spirits, denatured alcohol (preferred), turpentine, or lacquer thinner as an appropriate solvent.
  • Water bucket and rag are needed when using petroleum solvents in order to clean up spills. Acetone is also a useful cleaner that will break down painted surfaces such as latex wall coverings and spray paints.
  • Steel wool is used to strip paint from wood and should be used with caution when working on softwoods such as pine, fir, and larch.
  • Baking soda is a safe and gentle abrasive that will help to remove the remaining paint.

Wood underneath:

The first thing to do before stripping paint from wood is deciding if all the old coat of paint is worth exposing. Whether you are using a chemical or mechanical method, it will take time and effort that could be put into more complete projects.

Lead in paint:

We recommend testing lead content in paint before removing it. Lead is bad for people and pets, so we always suggest being cautious when tackling a project like stripping or painting your home. You can take samples from the surface of the wood that you will be working on with water.

If after 30 minutes no lines appear then there’s less than 0.06% lead content in the material; anything over this threshold should not be worked on without protective gear because it could give you symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, headache, muscle weakness, etc.

If you’ve found some areas where the lead level exceeds our safety recommendations (0.06%), don’t work any further until an expert has been consulted!

How to remove old paint from wood?

How to remove old paint from wood

The simple way to remove old paint from wood is by applying paint remover uniformly to the wood surface. Start by using a metal scraper to remove any loose paint and then use a scrub brush or roller to apply it evenly across the wood slats of your project.

Be sure not to get too close to the edges as that will cause bleaching, which is an irreversible chemical reaction with light that can damage nearby surfaces such as carpeting.

It’s best if you do this in well-ventilated areas like a garage or basement because fumes from solvent may irritate skin and nose when inhaled.

How to remove acrylic paint from wood?

The acrylic paint removing process is a little bit different from old paint removing method. You can easily remove acrylic paint stain with a strong solvent, such as acetone, which is often sold as pure or in commercial products like nail polish remover.

Let it soak for about 30 minutes to an hour and then scrape the dried substance off with your fingers (make sure you wear gloves).

How to remove latex paint from wood?

Stripping latex paint from wood is the easiest way amongst other processes. Paint stripper is a solvent that dissolves latex and oil based paints, which are then easily wiped away with a cloth or paper towel. You can buy commercial paint strippers at most home improvement stores or online stores.

How to use remove chalk paint from wood?

How to use remove chalk paint from wood

Chalk stains on the wood are a common occurrence, but they can be easily removed. The easiest way to remove chalk paint from wood is to use a paint stripper.

Paint strippers work by breaking down the components of the old coat, including wax and lacquer. For this reason, they are excellent for removing older paint layer from wood that has been covered with many coats or even lead-based paints.

Other Process:

Using sanding tool:

  • Use back and forth motions instead of using a circular motion when removing paint stain to help create an even layer for the new top coat.
  • Use light sanding strokes so that your lumber does not become too thin or have deep marks in it. Work carefully with softwoods such as pine to avoid opening up the grain too much. This will result in an uneven surface, which is difficult to spray paint.
  • Press down harder with your sander on areas where there’s excess buildup. When holding the tool at an angle against the wood’s grain direction as opposed to just moving across it without really adding any extra power behind each stroke.

Using sandpaper:

If using sandpaper for removing paint splatter, always sand with the grain first in one direction across large areas to take out big chunks of dried paint. Then, go over those same areas lightly going perpendicular to the grain to get rid of fine dust particles left behind.

Common Process of Stripping paint from all types of wood

Common Process of Stripping paint from all types of wood

What to check before starting paint removal process: There are two things you must check before going to start paint stripping process. They are below:

Apply paint stripper in the proper way

When you consider a chemical paint strippers, you need to apply it in the right way. You should never use too much paint stripper or let it sit for more than 30 minutes, as this can cause damage to your wood surfaces and create an environmental hazard.

  • Always follow the instructions of the product label on how long before a reapplication is allowed.
  • Do not allow children within reach of open containers or doors that have been coated with a stripper.
  • Wear gloves when applying paint stripping chemicals.
  • Pour a small amount onto a cloth rather than directly onto the furniture surface.
  • Doing so will reduce any potential messes and help avoid splashing around hazardous material near walls, doorways, windowsills, etc.
  • Use rubber gloves if handling liquid chemical solvent products like acetone or methylene chloride.

Use a paint scraper or putty knife

Use a paint scraper or putty knife to remove paint splatter from the surface of a woodworking project. You can also use these tools to remove lead paint from an exterior door that has been painted shut or some other doorway.

When using a putty knife, it is important to apply light pressure and move slowly so as not to damage any underlying parts of the door or other structure.

The blade should be angled gently against the edge of the door where you are applying pressure, in order to help prevent gouging out a chunk of material at once with too much force applied over too wide an area.

To avoid damaging hardwood floor, always place scrap cardboard underneath your scraping tool before making contact with them; this will provide protection for both your flooring and surfaces below by catching debris.

When to hire a professional for stripping paint from wood?

When to hire a professional for stripping paint from wood

The coating process of leaded based paints was changed in the 1970s to eliminate these hazards, but there are still plenty of homes built before this time that contain leaded paint and people need to be aware of it.

Stripping lead-based paint can be dangerous, and hiring professionals know how to protect themselves from harmful exposure.

For example, they wear respirators when working with hazardous materials like Methylene chloride, which is used to strip oil based paint containing solvents and waxes. Even small amounts of this substance over time may cause respiratory problems as well as tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills down the road.


The most difficult part of stripping paint from wood can be finding the right tools and knowing what you are doing. We’ve provided a brief overview so that you know how to get started, but if you need more help or advice on your particular project, let us know! Our team is here to make sure you have all the information necessary for any DIY project.

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