Whether you wish to strip an old cabinet or lift a few accidental drips, learning how to remove paint from wood will give you a better option than sanding and whittling away the surface. By using chemical strippers specially formulated for removing paint from wood, you can turn the paint into a gooey substance that will easily scrape away, leaving the wood beneath unmarred and ready for staining or painting. Though a little smelly, the process of removing paint from wood is easy if you use the right materials and follow a few simple steps.
To remove paint from wood, you will need:
- A methylene chloride-based chemical stripper
- A metal painter’s tray
- A disposable container
- A paint brush
- Rubber gloves
- A protective mask
- A putty knife
- Mineral spirits
- Steel wool
- Buy the right chemical stripper. When removing paint from wood it’s important to buy the right chemical stripper. Look for wood paint remover made with methylene chloride. These are well-congealed, gooey strippers that will smear well on vertical surfaces without dripping. In addition, make sure the stripper is wax-based to slow down the evaporation of the chemicals responsible for removing the paint from the wood.
- Prepare the items you need. Work in a well-ventilated area whenever you are removing paint from wood, as chemical strippers are caustic. Put on your protective mask and gloves before shaking the can well and pouring the chemical remover into a metal painter’s tray that you can throw away when the cleanup is done.
- Apply the chemical stripper. To remove paint from wood, it’s best to use a cheap paint brush that you won’t mind throwing away. Apply the chemical stripper to the wood in straight strokes to form a thick, gooey coat. Leave the solution on the wood for twenty minutes, then scrap it away with a plastic putty knife, dumping the mess into a disposable plastic container.
- Remove deep-set paint. Wait another twenty minutes to permit the remaining traces of chemical stripper to work on the wood surface and loosen any remaining paint. Dip coarse steel wool (which you can find in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket) in mineral spirits. Gently scrub away any visible paint.
- Clean the wood. Dip a rag in mineral spirits and wipe away any leftover paint or chemical stripper. Repeat this step several times, turning the rag over to truly clean the wood. This is the most important step in removing paint. If you fail to clean the surface properly, the wood paint remover will reappear after you sand or stain the surface and mar the finish.
Though some chemical strippers promise to make the job easier by avoiding the need for a cleanup later, such promises fail when it comes to removing paint from wood. “Water-rinse” or “no rise” wood paint removers are not recommended.