How to Strip Paint off Veneer

Updated March 23, 2017

Veneer is a thin layer of plastic often attached to particle board and used to make furniture. You can paint a veneer surface to add colour or style to a piece -- and if you change your mind about the paint, it is possible to remove it. Because veneer is not real wood and may damage more easily, start with weaker solvents and work your way up to stronger ones only as needed.

Use ammonia to remove latex paint that is not fully cured or is applied in a thin layer. Ammonia is a mild remover -- it will take longer to remove the paint than some other chemicals. Brush ammonia onto the veneer and then rub it off, and paint with a clean rag. Try to use ammonia on a small part of the veneer; if it doesn't work, move on to a stronger chemical.

Try using rubbing or denatured alcohol on latex paint finishes. Alcohol is a relatively mild solvent, but it can successfully remove paint even after it has cured. Rub the alcohol on with a rag. If the paint is stubborn, paint the alcohol on and let it sit before rubbing the surface with a rag.

Use a liquid paint stripper to remove one to two coats of paint not responsive to ammonia or alcohol. Pour liquid paint stripper into a small, wide-mouth metal can. Dip a brush into a solvent and apply a generous amount to the veneer, brushing always in one direction. Leave the stripper on the surface for about 20 minutes or the time recommended by the manufacturer, then use a paint scraper to remove the paint. Follow up with an old rag in areas that still have paint. Apply liquid paint stripper only to surfaces that are horizontal.

Use a brushable paint stripper for vertical surfaces and pieces with more than two layers of paint. Dip the paintbrush into the paint stripper and brush it onto the veneer, always moving in the same direction. Allow the stripper to sit for between 20 and 30 minutes. If the stripper is washable, hose off the veneer to remove the paint. Otherwise, use a scraper and rag to wipe away the paint.


Put down a dust sheet beneath all paint stripping projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Ammonia
  • Rag
  • Alcohol
  • Paint brush
  • Liquid paint thinner
  • Paint scraper
  • Hose, as needed
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About the Author

Lara Webster has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been featured on Relationships in the Raw, The Nursery Book, Spark Trust and several travel-related websites. Webster holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in mass communication and media studies, both from San Diego State University.