A new coat of paint is often sufficient to give new life to your wooden furniture, doors or window frames. However, if you’re switching from varnish to water-based paint, removing the old layers of paint is essential.

While there are dozens of methods to remove paint from wood or walls, the most effective ways involve the use of a heat gun or of a paint stripper.

But what is the difference between them and which product is the best? To help you with your choice, our expert team has tested and rated the best paint stripper products in the UK. Check out our top picks below.


Our #1 Best Pick

black & decker heat gun

Black & Decker 1750W

Our top UK pick – a high-quality heat gun ideal for stripping paint, varnishes and adhesives.

Low Cost Option

peel away stripper

Peel Away 1 Paint Remover

A cost-effective yet highly efficient paint stripper and varnish remover.

Best Of The Rest

Nitromors All Purpose Paint and Varnish Remover

Non-drip paint and varnish remover for wood, metal and masonry.

Rustins Strypit Paint & Varnish Stripper

Acid-free paint and varnish stripper suitable for wood, metal, glass and more.

Polycell Maximum Strength Paint Stripper

An average quality paint remover ideal for DIYers and hobbyists.


Whether you’re restoring an old piece of furniture or making a transition from oil-based to water-based interior woodwork products, removing old paint is essential.

You can either use sanding paper, a heat gun or a chemical paint stripper.

Sanding the wood is the most economical but also the most time-consuming option. The success of this project depends on the type of paint and the thickness of the coats. Sanding the old paint can be done either manually or with a sanding machine. The latter is most effective but you’ll have to invest in this power tool unless you already have one.

Removing paint with a heat gun is perhaps the most effective method, but it’s a quite slow and lengthy process.

If you don’t have the patience to remove paint via sanding or heat, the only option is to invest in a quality paint stripper.

These products react with the varnish or paint, dissolving it. However, this process is the most dangerous. While a sanding machine or heat gun come with their own hazards, paint strippers are harsh chemicals that can provoke burns and irritations.

To avoid side effects, use paint strippers in a ventilated environment – preferably outdoors. Don’t handle the product without gloves and wear a safety mask.

When performed correctly, this quick and cost-effective method offers a great alternative to a heat gun.

black & decker heat gun
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A reliable heat gun for multiple applications – comes with a built-in stand for hands-free convenience.

Black & Decker is one of the most popular manufacturers of professional and residential use power tools. Their range of heat guns includes the KX1650 model, a hobbyist heat gun ideal for occasional use.

Providing exceptional results in stripping paint from wood, this product is our top pick. Our favourite feature is the adjustable temperature range that varies between 460 and 600°C. The wide temperature range makes the appliance perfect for multiple uses, including thawing frozen water pipes or loosening rusted nuts.

But the main purpose of this appliance is that of stripping paint and varnish from surfaces at home. And the power tool fulfils its duties exceptionally.

Two heat and airflow settings add versatility and allow more control in different applications while the exceptional power provided by 1750W allows the tackling of multiple paint coats quickly and easily.

Staying true to its name, this Black & Decker appliance is versatile and easy to use. The controls are intuitive and within easy reach while an ergonomic grip improves manoeuvrability.


• Versatile heat gun for multiple household and DIY applications. A built-in stand allows hands-free operation and cooling.
• A 2-metre long cable allows for easy handling of the appliance. It is possible to add supplementary length via an extension cord.
• The heat gun comes at a more than affordable price and is available in multiple purchase options.
• Friendly customer service that’s ready to answer your queries or assist with troubleshooting.
• This power tool heats up in less than a minute; it doesn’t have an awkward smell and does a great job in removing paint.


• Pictures on the product’s package show different attachments and accessories. They exist but have to be purchased separately.
• Some users feel the heat gun doesn’t reach a desirable temperature. However, the heat is sufficient to remove old paint from wood.
• Durability could be improved.

peel away stripper
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Powerful and budget-friendly paint and varnish remover – it can strip away up to 32 layers at a time.

PeelAway 1 is our budget-friendly alternative to the more expensive heat gun described above. And indeed, this product features exceptional characteristics. The paint stripper and varnish remover is formulated to react with any lead-based paints and old varnishes, removing up to 32 layers at a time.

The product is supplied in 5kg and 10kg tubs, and a kilogramme of product is enough to treat about one square metre of surface area.

Providing exceptional results on wood and other surfaces, PeelAway1 is also suitable to use on plaster, brick, concrete, stone and other materials. Along with the paint stripper, the kit also includes a stripper poultice, a neutraliser, a spatula and blankets.

After effectively using the stripper during our tests, we recommend trying the product on a small section before applying it to the whole area. This will show you how long to leave the product on and whether it reacts with your surface.


• Aggressive paint stripper removes multiple layers of old paint at a time. The best results are achieved after leaving the product to react with the paint for 24 hours.
• PeelAway1 kit includes everything needed to remove paint quick and easy. The product comes with a neutraliser, blankets and spatula.
• Detailed and comprehensive instructions provide a step-by-step guide to using this product.


• Harsh chemicals can easily burn your skin and damage other objects. Wear protective equipment and lay thick drop cloths on the floor and surrounding objects.
• A strong, irritating smell can cause allergic reactions in predisposed individuals. If possible, use the product outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.

nirto mors
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An all-purpose paint and varnish remover – it boasts a convenient green colour indicator.

The characteristic feature of Nitromors paint and varnish remover is the green colour indicator that lets you know where the product has been applied. Because of this feature, we decided to test this product despite its rather negative feedback.

After trying the product on different surfaces, we admit that this paint stripper isn’t the best. That being said, it boasts an average quality and does what it’s supposed to do as long as you apply thick enough coats over the old varnish or paint.

Regarding the green-coloured gel, we admit this idea is genius. The product has a non-drip formula and is easy to apply even on vertical surfaces. Compatible with paint, varnish and lacquer, this paint remover is ideal to use on window frames and door trims.

However, applying it according to the manufacturer’s instructions won’t provide exceptional results. Instead, we suggest applying a thick coat over the relevant area and allow the chemicals to react with the paint for at least 6 hours before checking the results.

This paint remover is ideal for wood, metal and masonry, though it does do a good job on other materials too.


• The product has a coverage of up to 2.5m²/litre, although in reality, coverage is lower than this.
• Strong formula removes up to five layers of paint per application as long as the coats are thick enough.
• A less volatile formulation concentrates the active ingredients, improving the product’s efficiency.
• Nitromors is supplied in 350ml tubes; other sizes are also available and the product can be removed with either water or solvent.
• Multiple applications allow an effective removal of up to 15 layers of paint in a relatively short time.


• Paint stripper doesn’t work as advertised. You’ll have to apply thicker layers to achieve a decent result.
• Although suitable for vertical application, the product is messy and hard to work with.
• The product is very toxic and highly flammable. We recommend using it outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms.

rustins strypit
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Non-caustic stripper gel formulated to retain the aged patina of your vintage objects.

Strypit by Rustins is a non-caustic dichloromethane-free paint and varnish stripper suitable for wood, masonry, glass, metal and stone surfaces. Formulated as a mild gel, the product removes multiple coats at a time and is free from acids and caustic materials.

This means more peace of mind from all points of view. While you must still protect the surfaces from damage, the product is less harsh than most paint removers on the market.

Covering up to 13m²/litre, the product is easy to apply with a traditional paintbrush. Just spread it over the painted surface in a thin coat and wait for 10 minutes before applying a thicker layer. Leave the stripper for about 40 minutes, then check if the paint is loose and easy to remove.

If it is, use a putty knife or spatula to remove the paint. Otherwise, apply more product and let it react for another 40 minutes.


• Acid-free and non-caustic paint stripper is easy to use and easy to clean up with white spirit and a clean rug.
• Quick action ensures an easy removal of the old paint, helping you finish your redecoration project faster.
• The product is supplied in 250ml, 500ml, 2L and 4L tins. Finding the right quantity of paint remover for your project should be easy.


• Strypit is expensive and the price is hard to justify considering the performance of the more affordable solutions.
• Although it is acid and caustic substances free, the stripper is still toxic and unsuitable to use in poorly ventilated spaces.

polycell may strength paint stripper
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Reliable – but annoying – paint stripper for solvent and water-based paints.

Polycell Maximum Strength paint stripper is an average-quality product ideal for hobbyists and DIYers. It comes at a great price and it’s suitable to use on wood and metal to remove either solvent or water-based products.

This paint stripper is easy to apply in theory, but following the instructions won’t provide you with great results. To be effective, the product has to be applied in thick coats and in some cases, it takes several applications to achieve a satisfactory result.

Besides this, another thing needed in spades for the product to work is patience. We’ve seen many users online complaining about the poor quality of this paint remover. In reality, the product isn’t bad, it just needs time to penetrate and soften the varnish or paint.

In most cases, it takes at least four hours for the first results to show. Depending on the type of paint and its thickness, prepare to invest in several tubs of paint stripper.

As a result, the actual cost of the project can quickly rise; nevertheless, the product does what it says and you’ll just have to wait for it to effectively remove paint.


• Specific wood and metal formulation is gentle on the surface and doesn’t result in any damage. The product only reacts with the paint.
• The stripper reduces old varnish or paint to a soft film that is easy to remove. Just use a putty knife to take it off.
• Maximum Strength by Polycell works wonderfully on paint that wasn’t applied over an undercoat or primer.


• Maximum Strength wording is misleading. This paint remover isn’t the strongest on the market, but it does its job.
• Performance drops on water-based paints. We only recommend this product to remove solvent-based products.



• Paint stripper
• Drop cloths
• Sanding paper
• Disposable safety equipment
• Masking tape


• Heat gun
• Paintbrushes
• Putty knife


How To Remove Paint Using Paint Stripper
Removing old paint and varnish using a paint stripper is easy, though the process might be lengthy and annoying. Paint strippers need a lot of time to penetrate into the paint and loosen it. As a general rule, the thicker the layer of paint, the longer the project.

However, the process is straightforward. Lay a sheet of plastic drop cloth on the floor and place an object on it. If you’re removing the paint from doors or window frames, protect the walls with masking tape and the windowsill or pavement with a drop cloth.

Use a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of paint stripper to the surface and let it stand for about ten minutes. This will dissolve the superficial layers of the paint, allowing the product to penetrate into the lower layers. After ten minutes, apply a thick coat of stripper and let it stand until the paint or varnish is soft and comes off easily.

Depending on the thickness of the layer and performance of the product, this can take from half an hour to half a day or even more.

Check if the paint is softened with the putty knife. If you can remove it seamlessly, it’s time to get your hands dirty and scrape it off with the knife. Once you’ve removed the paint, sand the whole area to smoothen the surface and remove the last residues of paint.

How To Remove Paint Using A Heat Gun
A heat gun is a great alternative to the paint stripper. Removing old paint with a heat gun is often more effective but although the operation is simple, it’s lengthy and annoying.

The first step involves laying a drop cloth – ideally a non-flammable drop cloth – on the floor to protect the pavement. You don’t have to protect the walls with masking tape, but you’ll have to pay attention not to burn them.

The heat gun removes the paint effortlessly by softening and swelling it. Just hold the heat gun directly towards the surface at a distance of about 10cm. You’ll notice when the paint will start to detach itself from the wood and at this stage, just use the putty knife to scrape it off.

Once you have removed the paint, sand the whole surface with fine sanding paper to smoothen it and remove all residues.