We get a steady stream of customers who want to know how to use paint strippers and how to remove paint and varnish from wood. Here’s some useful information about stripping paint from wood to help you pick the right product.
Removing Paint from Wood
You may be the lucky owner of a lovely period home, or you may have an old wood floor that you’re confident will look beautiful with a little TLC. You might have discovered a fantastic piece of old furniture that has been smothered in a nasty, brown, shiny varnish and is begging for some TLC, or you might suspect something really special is hiding beneath all those layers of ancient paint on your doors. Whatever you decide, you must remove all of the debris from the surface in order to reveal the beautiful wood beneath. Stripping products, especially modern ones are relatively simple, effective, and safe to use. Much better than the bad old days when your only option was caustic soda, which was an unpleasant thing!
What Kinds Of Wood Can You Strip?
You can use paint remover to strip any type of wood, including heavily carved wood, as long as you use the right products and materials and carefully follow the instructions, especially if you want to strip something expensive, rare, or precious.
- Outdoor and indoor furniture
- Exterior and interior doors
- Door frames
- Stair rails and banisters
- Antique and vintage furniture
- Window frames and sills
- Parquet flooring
- Built-in furniture
- Skirting boards
3 Ways to Remove Paint from Wood
There are following three ways to remove paint from wooden furniture and doors:
Unless you want to hire an industrial sander to remove paint and varnish from your floor, sanding is best reserved for small projects. A word about sandpaper and wire wool, both of which can cause damage to wood if not used carefully. When you sand wood, you are removing the surface, and you must do so as evenly as possible without rubbing it thin or creating gouges. Power tools are useful because their design forces you to apply consistent pressure. Experts advise taking it slow and easy at first, whether you’re standing by hand or with a machine.
2. Using a Hot Air Gun
An electric hot air gun removes paint quickly but can scorch the wood if not used carefully. Scorching is less important when you plan to re-paint the wood. Furthermore, a hot air gun can only be used to remove paint, not varnish, because varnishes tend to become very gooey, almost glue-like when heated.
3. Chemical Paint Stripper
Chemical stripping is the best method for stripping carved wood with difficult-to-reach, intricate areas, but you will most likely use a combination of mechanical and chemical methods for your project, especially if you have layer upon layer of old paint to remove. Chemical paint removers produce the best results, remove varnishes and paints more quickly than sanding, and are less harsh. However, when using chemical strippers, care and safety must be taken.
Types of Chemical Wood Strippers
Solvent Paint Removers
Solvent paint removers remove all types of finishes, including modern ones. They are typically gentle on the wood and will not harm it, which is why they are used in the antique trade. There is no discoloration, and the solvents clean the wood deeper into the grain. However, because you use more of it, it can be more expensive than a caustic stripper. Solvents have a strong odor and should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Finally, you may have to work a little harder to remove heavy paint build-ups than you would with a caustic paint stripper. To summarize, solvent strippers are:
- More expensive
- Messy to use
- Don’t remove heavy paint
- Cause no damage
- Cause no staining
- Strong odor
- Give finer finish
- Give natural look
- Best for stripping old, and damaged items
Caustic Paint Removers
Caustic paint removers remove most finishes and are especially effective at removing thick layers of paint and varnish. They produce fewer fumes than solvent-based paint strippers, are less expensive, and work faster. Caustic products, on the other hand, typically contain a strong alkaline that may react with chemicals in the wood, resulting in staining or scorching. This is more common in dense woods like mahogany and some varieties of oak, particularly old oak. In summary, caustic removers are as follows:
- Perfect for removing heavy paint
- Best for complicated moldings
- Best for stripping repainted or stained doors
- Best for use on plaster, stone, and metal
Anyone with the right tools and knowledge of how to use them can remove paint from wood. Chemical paint strippers, heat guns, sanding, and natural products with no chemicals are the most common methods for removing paint. Consider the cost of materials and ease of use for each method when deciding which is best for you.