DIY Network

How to Remove Paint Using Chemicals

Chemical strippers can make paint removal easier, but it's essential that you follow proper procedures and take safety precautions.

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use paint scraper to remove softened paint

Step 1: Protect Your Skin

Wear heavy-duty rubber gloves to protect your skin from the chemicals. Wear a respirator to protect your lungs. Lay a protective covering on the floor.

Step 2: Apply the Stripper

Using a paintbrush, apply stripper liberally to the painted surface. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

paint stripper helps remove paint or finish

Step 3: Remove the Paint

Using a paint scraper, attempt to remove the paint. If the paint doesn't come off, apply more stripper, and let it sit for another 5 minutes.

Step 4: Remove Paint with Scraper

Once the chemicals have done their job, remove the paint with a scraper. Use a shave hook to get into small crevices, steel wool for deep ones. Never use steel wool on oak: it tends to scratch the wood's surface. Instead, use a piece of burlap.

Step 5: Clean up Leftover Patches

When you've removed the bulk of the paint, clean up any leftover patches with steel wool or burlap dipped in fresh paint stripper.

Step 6: Neutralize the Stripper

Neutralize the stripper by washing the wood with water or turpentine (according to the manufacturer's instructions).

Step 7: Let Dry

Let the piece dry thoroughly, and treat it like new wood. Liquid paint strippers are suitable only for use on horizontal surfaces. For all other woodwork, use a gel stripper, which clings to the surface and doesn't drip. When using a gel stripper, follow the same steps as for a liquid product.