Whether you want to restore an old piece of furniture that was preserved in poor condition or to repaint damaged woodwork, you’ll probably need to remove any old paint from the wood before repainting it. The process is uncomplicated but time-consuming.
There are essentially four methods to remove paint from wood: manually with sandpaper, with a chemical paint remover, with a heat gun, or with a sander.
All methods are straightforward and choosing one over another depends on the nature of the object and size of the surface.
How To Remove Paint From Wood With Sandpaper
Sanding is one of the most popular techniques to remove paint from wood. This method is recommended for small objects or surfaces and you will only need sandpaper of varying sizes and a lot of patience.
The initial phase consists of a rough sanding with coarse-grained sandpaper intended to remove the superficial coats of old paint. Strip as much paint as you can, clean the surface from all debris, then switch to a thinner grain sandpaper to remove any remaining paint residues.
Because this method is time-consuming and tiring, we wouldn’t recommend using it on large surfaces. However, this is perhaps the best way to remove paint from wood due to the attention to detail given during the various phases.
How To Remove Paint From Wood With A Chemical Paint Remover
An easy and quick solution to remove paint from wood is with a chemical paint remover, also knows as a stripper. The chemicals in this product are formulated to react with the old varnish or paint, dissolving it. The only downside is that the stripper’s efficiency drops if the layer of paint is thick.
Therefore, if you want to remove several coats of paint, we suggest sanding the surface first to remove the superficial layers, then apply the stripper to dissolve what’s left.
For this method, you’ll need quality paint stripper, a brush, gloves and goggles.
The procedure is very simple. Just spread the stripper on the surface with a brush or spatula. Let it act as instructed and then remove the paint with a scraper.
Because the product is harmful, it is essential to carry on the operation in a well-ventilated space, preferably outdoors. The only strippers that are safe to use in enclosed spaces are the biodegradable ones; however, these are less effective and more expensive than the traditional products.
The chemical paint stripper is not only the easiest and quickest way to remove paint from wood, but it’s also the most economical.
How To Remove Paint From Wood With A Heat Gun
Another effective method but more time-consuming than the paint stripper is to remove paint from wood with a heat gun. The instrument heats air to a very high temperature and releases it onto the paint, causing it to peel from the surface. Then, just use a scraper to remove the paint permanently.
Although effective, this method is dangerous and poses a serious burn hazard. It is therefore essential to wear protective equipment, including adequate gloves.
To remove the paint, allow the instrument to reach its temperature then position the heat gun a few centimetres away from the surface. Wait until you see bubbles, an indicator that the paint has detached itself from the wood.
At this stage, use a scraper to remove the paint, paying attention so as not to get burned. The operation must be quick because the paint may reattach to the wood if it gets cold. Heating the same spot for too long can also damage the surface.
How To Remove Paint From Wood With A Sander
None of the methods described above are effective on large surfaces. If you want to remove paint from large furniture pieces, such as a table or wardrobe, a sander is the most suitable and fastest tool.
Using this machine is easy, but it is important to follow a few rules to guarantee the success of your operation.
First, know that sanding large surfaces with a sander releases millions of dust particles. Old wood paints may contain lead, that’s why it is important to wear a mask, goggles and gloves. It is also important to fix the surface on a solid support to ensure a smooth operation.
Once the surface to be stripped is fixed to the sander’s table, attach coarse-grained sandpaper to the machine and start sanding the surface. After a first roughing step, switch to thin grit sandpaper and continue to sand until you obtain a smooth wood surface.
For the best results, it is important to keep the wood clean and to apply a very slight pressure on the sander. You’ll also have to change the sandpaper quite often.
Once you’ve removed all paint, remove all dust and clean the surface with compressed air, at which point you can then proceed with your redecoration project.
Choosing The Right Method
All four methods described above allow you to easily remove paint from wood. But not all methods are adequate in all situations.
If you have to remove paint from small objects, sanding it manually may be the easiest way. If the paint is thin, then chemical stripper is an ideal alternative. A heat gun delivers exceptional results on narrow surfaces and it also removes thick layers of paint effortlessly.
The sander provides the easiest way to remove paint from large surfaces, but the operation is time-consuming and potentially harmful. Choose wisely!