How to remove paint from wood: 3 methods to try

Read on to find out how to remove paint, with pros and cons of different methods you could use.


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Key steps

  • A paint stripper heat gun makes the paint easier to scrape away, but requires caution
  • Chemical paint strippers won’t damage the wood, but they can be messy and slow
  • Sanding is great for large, flat areas – but not for lead-based paint

Looking to refresh your home by removing paint from doors, window panes or furniture to reveal attractive wood underneath; or simply prepare them for a repaint? Here we’ll assess different methods for how to remove paint. Plus, for DIY inspiration and project ideas, click here.

Once you know how to strip paint, keep a good quality cleaner like Cif Multi-Purpose to hand to clean up any mess you make in the wood stripping process.

How to strip paint from wood: Tips, tricks, pros and cons of 3 paint removal methods

Below we will share three guides for how to remove paint from wood, with pros and cons to each method.

1. Use a heat gun to remove paint.

Using a paint stripper heat gun is surprisingly simple. Applying heat to the paint on wood softens it, making it easier to scrape away. If you’re using a heat gun to remove paint, make sure you keep the area well ventilated and cover your mouth and nose to avoid breathing in the fumes.

  • Pro: A quick and easy way to remove paint.
  • Con: It produces fumes.
  • Pro: It minimises dust.
  • Con: There is a risk you could burn or char the wood.
  • Pro: It is a great way to remove old paint, and paint with lots of layers.
  • Con: Adding heat to wood has the potential to start a fire.

2. Use a paint stripper.

Paint strippers are readily available in shops up and down the country and come in the form of liquid, gel or paste. They work by dissolving the paint. Always keep the area well ventilated and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

  • Pro: There is no dust created.
  • Con: Using chemical strippers can be messy.
  • Pro: Paint strippers won’t lead to chips or damage.
  • Con: Chemical strippers have a strong smell.
  • Pro: If you have something with an awkward shape or hard to reach spots, these are a great choice.
  • Con: Removing paint with a chemical stripper can be a slow process.

3. Try sanding the wood.

While sandpaper and elbow grease will do the trick, we recommend power sanding disks or clapboard sanders. This will grind away the paint.

Pro: Sanding is a great technique for large, flat surfaces.

Con: It produces a lot of dust.

Pro: If you have outdoor wood that needs paint stripping, sanding is ideal.

Con: Sanding is not very effective on lead-based paint.

With this guide you now know how to remove paint from wood safely and efficiently, with the pros and cons of different methods.

Originally published