Most Hassle-Free Ways of Stripping Paint From Wood

A collection of painting supplies on a wood floor.
What You'll Need
Chemical-resistant gloves
Protective eyewear
Putty knife
Paint scraper
Cardboard/old newspaper
Paint brush
Paint stripper of choice
Resealable container
Old tooth brush
Old rag
Clean cloth

Stripping paint from wood will bring out the natural beauty of the underlying material. The wood can then be stained, or repainted for protection. There are three basic methods for removing paint; a chemical remover, sanding, or heat. The easiest method is using a paint stripper. The chemical paint stripper is applied to the wood surface and allowed time to work on the paint. After a short period of time, a putty knife is used to scrape the stripper and the paint from the wood. The wood is then rinsed with water.


Always wear chemical-resistant gloves and protective eyewear when working with a chemical paint stripper. When stripping the paint from wood, it is best to work outside where there is a great deal of ventilation and fresh air. If you must work inside, be sure that all of the windows to the room or opened. If possible, use a fan to circulate the air through the room.

Regardless of where you work, wear a respirator to keep the fumes from the paint stripper from causing harm. Use a large piece of cardboard or old newspapers to catch the remover and paint as they come off the wood.

Examine the Wood

Examine the wood piece to determine how many layers of paint there are that need to be removed. If the piece has some areas where the grain is visible, there are probably only one or two layers of paint that require stripping.

Choose the Paint Stripper

Paint strippers are available in both paste and liquid forms. Liquid paint strippers work well with wood that has a maximum of two layers of paint that need to be removed. The liquid dries quickly and will not work well on more layers of paint. Liquid paint stripper also works well in crevices and detailed areas of the wood. Some of these liquid strippers are also available as a spray which makes them much easier to use.

Paste paint strippers are applied in thick layers to the paint. The paste works well on wood that has multiple paint layers. Aerosol chemical strippers can also be used for multiple paint layers. These strippers spray in a foam format and stick to the surface of the piece. Many liquid and paste removers require that they be washed off once the paint has been removed. Be careful not to damage the wood by using too much water.

Prepare the Wood

Any hardware on the wood must be removed before it can be stripped. Use a screwdriver to take off items including hinges, knobs, and handles. Be careful not to accidentally damage the wood by scratching it with the screwdriver. Any hardware that cannot be removed should be covered with tape. Carefully scrape any peeling paint from the wood with a paint scraper.

Apply the Paint Stripper

Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of before you apply the paint stripper to the wood. Pour a small amount of the liquid or paste into a resealable container. Use a paint brush to apply a thick layer. Brush the paint stripper in the same direction in a manageable amount of space on the entire piece. Leave it on the wood for about 15 minutes, depending on the instructions. When the scraper can cut through to the wood under the paint, the paint stripper has finished working.

Use the scraper to carefully lift off the old paint. Wipe the stripped wood with an old rag. Apply paint thinner to a clean cloth. Use the cloth to wipe all of the wood. Repeat the process until all of the finish has been removed from the wood. Allow the wood to dry for 24 hours. Use fine sandpaper to gently sand any rough edges from the wood before you begin to refinish it.

TIP: Doityourself’s painting consultant Edward Kimble, author of Interior House Painting Blog, suggests, “Besides a putty knife, a triangle scraper is good to get the paint off. Also, steel wool can remove paint from crevices and sculptured areas where a scraper cannot reach. An old toothbrush can also be helpful. Give the stripper plenty of time to work, but don’t let it get completely dry.”

Now that you have stripped the old paint from the wood, you are all set to apply a fresh coat. This is a great way to match an old piece to a newly remodeled room!

Edward Kimble, professional painter and author of Interior House Painting Blog, contributed to this article.