What to Consider when Buying a Paint Stripper

If your next do-it-yourself project involves stripping paint or varnish, there are a number of things to consider when selecting a paint stripper. There are many ways to remove paint, including paint, pate (ideal for vertical surfaces or carved areas), spray-on stripper and chemicals, which include semi-paste and brushable liquid strippers. Read on to learn more about several types of paint strippers so you can determine which will work best for you.

Paint Strippers

Paint strippers and stripping paints in general have several methods to use and it depends upon what you will be stripping. Woodwork or other wood inside your home such as hardwood floors, may need to be sanded to remove all of the paint or varnish, especially if you can't remove the wood to the outside to work on it. The fumes can be rather strong. Heat is also another method to consider when stripping paint, especially inside your home and if you have several layers of paint to remove.

Test Your Wood

Often times the type of paint or varnish you are removing will determine the type or method of stripping to use. Oil based paints and varnishes require a stronger chemical than latex paints and varnishes. To test the area, you can put a few drops of paint thinner or paint stripper on an area and wait. If it bubbles almost immediately, then it is latex. If it just sits or takes a long time, then you have an oil based surface to strip.

Stripping Oil-Based Paints and Varnishes

This type of paint and varnish removal is the most difficult to do. You will make the job go faster if you read the label of your product or ask your local home improvement expert for the best oil based paint and varnish remover they sell. Most are a very thick liquid, a gel or a paste. A great deal depends upon how many layers you are stripping. Thick liquid will work on one or two layers, and gel well cut though additional layers. If you have a heavy paint or varnish buildup, use a paste stripper. The goal is to keep the area moist with product until you work through all of the layers and see the wood beneath. This can take several coats. Also, if you sand or score the surface lightly to break the sheen of the surface, your product will work more quickly.

Stripping Latex-Based Paints and Varnishes

If you are stripping latex based paints and varnishes its a bit easier than the oil based products, but can be a bit messy. If at all possible, work outside so you can take advantage of your garden hose to wash down the surface once the stripper has done its job. In general a liquid or gel paint stripper is all that will be necessary for this type of job. If your wood has a lot of carving, you may want to try the gel on it and if that doesn't work well, use a paste. The paste strippers are a bit more expensive, so it is best to use a gel or liquid first.

Once the surface bubbles, use a putty knife to scrape all the paint off and scrape it into an old coffee can or disposable container. This stripped off paint will stick to surfaces when it dries and is difficult to remove, so clean up after yourself as you go.