What is the fastest way to remove paint from wood?

Updated February 21, 2017

If the paint on a wood surface is old, cracking, flaking or bubbling up then you will want to remove the paint before putting a new coat on. In some cases removing paint from wood is just a simple matter of a little effort and the right tools, in other cases it is a job best left to some safe chemicals and a power sprayer. Finding the fastest way to approach paint removal from wood depends on what kind of paint you are dealing with and where the paint is located.

Oil vs Water Based Paint

According to, you can make your paint removal job more efficient if you know what kind of paint you are dealing with. The fastest way to remove water-based paints, or latex paints, is to soften them up with some warm water and then remove the paint with a stiff brush or some steel wool. Many outdoor paints are oil-based and the fastest way to remove these paints is with some kind of solvent and a scraper. It can be difficult to tell if you are dealing with an oil-based or water-based paint, especially if the paint is very old. The best way to determine what you are dealing with is to apply some warm water to see if it accelerates the removal process.

Outside Removal

The fastest way to remove outdoor paint is to remove the paint that can easily be removed with a scraper. This will help the chemical paint remover get into the wood easier. Use a non-caustic paint remover to avoid any health issues, and always wear work gloves when scraping paint or working with chemicals. Use hand scrapers or a power washer to remove the paint once the chemicals have had a chance to work their way between the wood and the paint. The fastest way to remove the paint from wood after applying chemicals is with a power sprayer, but this can also make the biggest mess. If you are looking for the fastest way to remove the pain after the chemicals have set in from start of the job to clean-up, then the old fashioned scraper is your best bet.

Indoor Removal

Many people use sandpaper to remove paint on inside wooden surfaces and this may not always be a good idea. To remove paint with sandpaper requires a lot of pressure and a heavy grade of sand. Make sure the wood is able to stand that kind of abuse before you start sanding. Thin wood, or old wood, should not be sanded. The fastest way to remove indoor paint is by using a heat gun and a scraper. You may find that your indoor paint is indeed water-based and can easily be removed with hot water and a scraper. There are also indoor non-caustic paint removing chemicals but these can slow down your work time as the clean-up involved can take longer than the paint removal job.

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About the Author

George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.