How to Remove Paint From Wood

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Removing paint from wood is often time-consuming and can cause a ton of mess. However, you’ll find this project very enjoyable and absolutely satisfying. This step-by-step guide to removing paint from wood will have you stripping paint like an expert. 

Tools & Materials

  • Work gloves.
  • Safety glasses.
  • Respirator.
  • Solvent-based paint stripper.
  • 5-gallon bucket.
  • Paintbrush.
  • Paint scraper.
  • Wire brush.
  • Rags.
  • Sandpaper.

How To Remove Paint From Wood

Step 1: Ensure the Wood is Worth Stripping

Mainly trim wood will appear either rotten or worn that stripping it will hardly leave anything left to paint. Be sure to try out some tests to decide if the work will be worth your time. Do this before setting up to strip the old paint. 

Step 2: Be Sure the Paint Does Not Contain Lead

If your home were built before 1978, the paint would most likely contain lead. Lead contains dust that can be very toxic, especially after messing with it. Lead poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms, including seizures and developmental delays in children.

Step 3: Remove Any Protruding Nails, Screws, etc.

You want to make sure you remove any hardware from the wood. This includes:

  • Nails and screws.
  • Brackets. 
  • Doorknobs.

Using protective tape, cover up any non-removable parts that are made of materials besides wood.

Step 4: Apply Paint Stripper

MAX Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper 1 Qt

Before you apply the paint stripper, protect the windows and floors beneath the wood, doors, or wall edges. Do this by taping off and covering them up. Shake the can well, open then pour some into a deep container. Focus on one small section at a time while generously applying the paint stripper using a paintbrush. Leave this product on for at least 20 minutes or until the paint begins to bubble and peel. 

Step 5: Use a Paint Scraper to Remove the Paint

Putty Knife Set 4-Piece, Paint Scraper, Taping Knife, Spackle Knife for Drywall Tools, 2'', 3'', 4'', 5''

Using a paint scraper, gently remove as much paint as you can from the area where you originally applied the stripper. Do this without gouging the wood. 

Step 6: Get into Those Hard-to-Reach Places

Address any raised or recessed areas by spreading the stripper on the wood once more, waiting for about 20 minutes. This time you want to scrape using a wire brush or steel wool in order to access any hard-to-reach places. 

Step 7: Wash and Sand the Wood to a Clean Finish

Abrasive Dry Wet Waterproof Sandpaper Sheets Assorted Grit of 400/600/ 800/1000/ 1200/1500 for Furniture, Hobbies and Home Improvement, 12 Sheets (9 x 3.6 Inch)

This last step is highly crucial and will help ensure the wood is free of any loose materials like debris and dirt. Before you sand the wood, wash it using a clean rag soaked in water, then sand the entire surface down. This will give the wood a consistent surface for paint or stain acceptance.

Also Read: How to Clean Wood After Stripping Paint

How To Remove Paint From Wood Naturally

Heat Guns

DEWALT Heat Gun with LCD Display & Hard Case/Accessory Kit (D26960K) , Yellow

This tool causes the paint to bubble, allowing you to scrape it off. However, it can also damage the wood or, even worse, have it catch fire. They’re better on large surfaces and easy to learn to use, but unfortunately, they come with risks and need some practice before starting. Be sure to follow safety protocols, use heat-resistant gloves, and have a fire extinguisher nearby. 


120 To 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper for Wood Furniture Finishing, Metal Sanding and Automotive Polishing, Dry or Wet Sanding, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 36-Sheet

Sanding is relatively easy to learn and uses minimal tools. You can use a sanding tool or heavy-grit sandpaper for sanding the paint. Make sure you do this outdoors and wear a mask to resist any dust particles getting on you or inside your house. Do not use sanding to take off any paint that contains lead because it may disperse fine particles of lead into the air. This could damage your lungs, causing other major health issues. 


Calyptus 45% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar | Dilutes to 9 Gallons | 9x Power Cleaning Vinegar | Plant Based | Home and Outdoor | All-Purpose Cleaner, 1 Gallon

This method isn’t as effective but can soften the paint making it easier to remove. First, you need to boil the vinegar and then apply it to the surface using a brush. After a few minutes, scrape the paint off and repeat the step if necessary to remove any paint you missed the first time. 

Pressure Washer

Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios

If this is for a fence, deck, or any other extensive project, you may want to use a pressure washer. Make sure you prep the area to resist water better so that there’s no leaking in the house. Your pressure washer will have to be at least 2500 psi. 

Scrapers or Strippers

Putty Knife Set 4-Piece, Paint Scraper, Taping Knife, Spackle Knife for Drywall Tools, 2'', 3'', 4'', 5''

Paint strippers or handheld scrapers are best for hard-to-reach places or small jobs.

Soy Gel or Citrus-based Paint Removers

Safe ‘n Easy Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover Gel, Strips 15+ Layers of Paint Safely, No Hazardous Fumes, Non-Toxic, Citrus Orange Scent (32 oz)

These paint removers are like chemical paint strippers but are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. 


Removing paint from wood is a job anyone can do with the proper knowledge and tools. Besides the mess, you may end up enjoying this worthwhile project. Use this guide to understand better the process of removing paint from wood and the different ways to do so. For more information, visit our website or contact us today. 

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