The best way to strip paint off wood

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Canvas dust sheet
  • Heat gun
  • Paint scraper
  • Water
  • Cloth
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About the Author

Liana Christianson is a freelance writer. She has experience with a wide variety of writing styles and subjects. Christianson has worked as an editor and a researcher. She contributes her writing to several different websites.