The best way to strip paint off wood

Written by liana christianson
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The best way to strip paint off wood
Paint on a wooden surface. (Blue wooden wall image by Roman Sigaev from

The best way to strip paint off of wooden surfaces is to use a heat gun. A heat gun is a tool that is used to soften paint by emitting hot air onto the painted surface. After the paint softens, a scraper is used for easier paint removal. Nozzle attachments are used for concentrating heat where it is needed the most. When using a heat gun on wooden surfaces, keep the heat gun moving.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Canvas dust sheet
  • Heat gun
  • Paint scraper
  • Water
  • Cloth

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  1. 1

    Place a canvas dust sheet below the wooden surface you are working on to protect against debris. Avoid using newspaper, which is flammable.

    The best way to strip paint off wood
    A dust sheet protects against debris. (silk background image by Liu xiang from
  2. 2

    Clean the painted wooden surface with water and a cloth to remove dust and dirt.

  3. 3

    Direct the heat gun to a small area of the painted wooden surface. Hold the heat gun 5 inches away from the painted wood and apply heat for two to three minutes or until the paint bubbles. Do not linger over a small area for too long; it can cause damage to the wood.

  4. 4

    Remove the paint that has bubbled on the wooden surface with the paint scraper. Scrape cautiously to avoid scratching the wood.

    The best way to strip paint off wood
    A paint scraper or putty knife will remove old paint. (scraper image by timur1970 from
  5. 5

    Move the heat gun back and forth across the next small area of the painted wooden surface until the paint bubbles. Scrape away the paint.

  6. 6

    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until all of the paint has been stripped from the wood surface.

  7. 7

    Collect the debris from the canvas dust sheet and dispose into the trash.

    The best way to strip paint off wood
    A clean wooden surface. (wood image by green 308 from

Tips and warnings

  • Practice using the heat gun on a scrap piece of painted wood to get the feel of the tool.
  • Sand the wood with sandpaper, if you are planning on reapplying paint.
  • Read the heat gun instructions for the appropriate temperature setting to remove the type of paint you are working with.
  • Do not linger over a small area for too long as this can cause damage to the wood.
  • Heat guns are used to remove latex paint and oil-based paint.
  • Do not use a heat gun with lead paint as this can be dangerous. Read the lead paint safety guide by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Use a heat gun with caution and keep away from fabric and plastic.
  • Wear a respirator to avoid toxic fumes.
  • Wear protective gloves and goggles.
  • Avoid contact with skin, extreme high temperatures will burn.
  • Read and follow all manufacturers' warnings and instructions.

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