One of the most common DIY projects in the painting world is taking a piece of wooden furniture that has been painted and restoring it to its former natural glory. Which means one of the common questions we hear as painters is “what is the best way to remove paint from wood?”.
There are a few methods and they all have their pros and cons.
1. With sandpaper
This method has the advantage of being the least dangerous in that it doesn’t involve any tools or chemicals. It is however probably the most labour intensive and is best suited to woodwork that has only a single coat of paint, or has been painted with a distressed finish.
What do you do? Well you put a fair bit of elbow grease into it and … sandpaper away the paint until it is all gon
2. With a heat gun
The heat gun method has the advantage of being a little bit easier than the sandpaper method and also doesn’t involve the use of caustic chemicals.
Heat guns are good for stripping paint from furniture that has mouldings or intricate designs. They also work well when there are multiple layers of paint to be stripped.
The hardest thing about using a heat gun for stripping paint is avoiding burning the wood you are stripping. This will take a bit of practice so you might like to perfect your technique on a test piece of wood first.
Once you are ready to go set your heat gun to a temperature of 400-600 degrees, hold it about 10cm away from the surface of the paint and slowly move it back and forth over the paint until the paint starts to bubble. Once the paint is bubbling stop applying heat and use your scraper to remove it from the wood.
When the majority of paint has been removed to your satisfaction you will need to run sandpaper over the wood to remove any excess paint and residue.
3. With a chemical paint stripper
Chemical paint strippers may be the quickest and easiest way to remove paint from wood but they are also extremely toxic and caustic so need to be handled with care. Chemical paint strippers are best used when the thing you are removing paint from is flat and doesn’t contain complex grooves or decorative trim.
Once you have set yourself up in a well-ventilated area with gloves, eye-protection and plenty of drop cloths, you are ready to go.
Simply brush the stripper onto the wooden surface … and then wait. Different strippers take different amounts of time to work but you will know it has worked when the paint has softened and started to crack. Once the paint has softened it should be very easy to scrape away.
Once the wood is dry you will need to sand it to remove any excess paint or staining.
Whatever your favoured method, removing paint from wood is a thankless job. But the end results are always worth it!