How to Strip Paint From Wood

There are a few reasons you might want to strip or remove the paint or finish from a wood surface or wood furniture. The most common reason for removing paint or varnish, however, is that the current finish has incurred damage and needs replacing, and stripping the old wood finishes ensures a clean surface to apply a new finish. Other reasons for wanting to remove paint and other finishes include wanting to change the color of the wood or simply wanting a more natural wood grain look.

how to remove paint from wood

How to Remove Finishes and Strip Paint From Wood

When you’re ready to strip away an old paint job, just follow these basic steps in order to get the best results. First, protect yourself by wearing chemical-resistant gloves, safety glasses, pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Second, prepare other supplies you need before you begin so you have everything on hand before you begin with your wood stripper project.

Common supplies necessary for removing paint and other finishes include:

  • Plastic putty knife or metal putty knife
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Plastic scraper or metal scraper
  • Utility knife
  • Wire brush
  • Drop cloth
  • Damp cloth
  • Fine steel wool
  • Heat guns
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sanding block
  • Trash can
  • Heavy-duty trash bags
  • Sanding block
  • Old paint brush
  • Pressure washer

Once you have everything gathered up, it’s time to use the chemical paint strippers to remove the finish on your furnishings. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to remove paint from wood with the paint stripper you select, first putting on your personal protective gear to keep you safe through the process.

Stripping the finish off wood furniture or peeling paint on a surface can be a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth it in order to achieve a high-quality result. By following the how-tos in this article, you can ensure your paint removal project turns out exactly as you envisioned it.

stripping or sanding wood

Stripping Wood vs. Sanding Wood

Pros and cons exist for each method of stripping or sanding wood furniture or floors. These considerations can help when you’re deciding which finish or paint removal method is right for you:

  • The type of wood or piece of furniture you have. Some types of wooden furniture or floors are more difficult to strip than others. For example, older pieces with lead-based paint can cause considerable difficulty for restorers due to the danger of the medium. One solution is using a paint stripper like our Soy-Gel Professional Paint Remover, which has a low volatile organic compound (VOC) formulation that encapsulates lead paint in gel for a safer way of removing paint from wood. If you’re not sure whether you can strip furniture or floors, consult with a professional first.
  • The condition of the wooden furniture, floor or surface. If your wood is in good condition, stripping paint and finishes from furniture or floors may be the best option. However, if the flat surfaces are damaged or have a lot of scratches, it can require some elbow grease with a paint scraper before and light sanding after you remove all the paint to bring the piece back to bare wood basics. If your project piece is in good condition before you remove as much paint as you can, a fresh coat of Real Milk Paint or one of our finishing oils can bring it back to its former glory quickly and easily.
  • Your timeline and budget. Using paint stripper to soften and remove paint is typically a quicker process than sanding, and sanding can also be a more expensive option. This means that if you’re on a tight schedule — or budget! — stripping paint from your project piece is probably the better option. If, however, you have more time and money on your hands, sanding away old paint may produce better results than removing paint from wood.
  • The plans you have after removing paint. If you’re stripping paint from wood furniture with an eye toward refinishing the piece, you want to take care with the wood underneath to prevent damage. In this case, sanding may be a better option. But if you remove paint from wood in order to repaint the surface a different color or remove thick layers to improve the look of the piece, damage to the wood underneath isn’t as big a concern and you can use paint strippers and a heat gun to get the job done.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to remove paint or sand your wood pieces comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your project. However, we at Real Milk Paint prefer stripping as we have high-quality chemical strippers to help you on your project.

Remove Paint From Wood Furniture Easily With Real Milk Paint

remove remaining paint chips in furniture

Real Milk Paint works best on unfinished surfaces and any type of wood grain (use our Ultra Bond Adhesion Promoter for finished surfaces), but sometimes you want to start with a clean slate to achieve the look you want.

Fortunately, the process of how to remove paint from wood or even how to apply paint stripper to remove lead-based paint is relatively simple when you have an arsenal of paint removal and chemical strippers by The Real Milk Paint Co. on your side.

The low and no VOC formulations of our chemical paint strippers offer a safe, effective way to strip furniture and surfaces to get them ready for some fresh coats of Real Milk Paint or our various finishing oils, cremes and waxes.

Keep in mind you should always wear chemical-resistant gloves and protective glasses while working with paint strippers or other paint removal products for added safety and peace of mind.

How to Remove a Finish with Soy Gel Professional Paint Remover

Paint strippers to help remove paint easily

Soy Gel Professional Paint Remover provides maximum versatility to your workspace. From enamel or latex paints and single-component sealers to urethane, varnishes and shellacs, Soy Gel Paint Remover removes varnish and strips away existing finishes and loose paint on your piece of furniture or wood surfaces. In addition to these finishes, it also works to remove lead-based paint, suspending the toxic particles in its gel formulation for safe cleanup.

To use this low VOC chemical stripper, simply apply it to the piece of furniture or wood surfaces you wish to strip, allow it to absorb into the existing finish for about 20 minutes to 2 hours to soften and loosen paint up, then wipe it away or scrape it off with a plastic scraper when you see the paint bubble. For thick layers, add plastic wrap over the area, wait a bit, then try again, as keeping the chemical stripping formulation moist provides more time for it to remove paint out of stubborn solid wood spots.

How to Strip Furniture or Surface With Milk Paint Stripper Remover

Soy Gel Paint Remover from The Real Milk Paint Co. offers a safe, effective way to eliminate old protein-based paints, like milk paint, from solid wood flooring and furnishings you wish to refinish.

It works as-is on previous milk paint applications and citrus-based paint removers, so you can use it to strip paint from furniture and remove old milk paints. For modern oil paints, varnishes, shellacs and stains, it may be better to use Soy Gel Professional Paint Remover to get the job done.

Simply mix the powdered formulation with water according to directions, apply it like a creme on the entire surface you wish to strip, then watch as it dissolves up to eight paint layers on your painted furniture. After 20 minutes or more, either wipe it up with a damp cloth or push it into a container with a putty knife.

Because it contains no toxic ingredients, acids or flammable chemicals, Milk Paint Stripper Remover works well in indoor workspaces, so you can strip furniture in the garage without special ventilation equipment. For the best results, keep the Milk Paint Remover wet with water in a mist bottle to keep the action working.

How to Remove Iron Stains From Wood

When you want to repaint and strip furniture or restore an antique piece of furniture, you may find iron stains have left dark spots on the wood. In those cases, Oxalic Acid Wood Bleach Remover by The Real Milk Paint Co. has you covered with a formulation designed to remove iron stains from pieces of furniture without discoloring the wood beneath. This formulation utilizes natural ingredients rather than harsh chemicals for excellent eco-friendly results.

To use this product, simply mix two tablespoons of the wood bleach into hot water, then apply a thick layer to the spots that need cleaning with an old paintbrush in the appropriate size.

Next, let it dry to see if the stain remains on your piece of furniture. If a semi-transparent stain still remains, repeat this process up to four times to get the results you require.

Keep in mind that you need to neutralize the acid solution once you complete the stain removal task. To do this, dissolve some borax in hot water, saturate a rag with the mixture, wipe down the spot where you used Oxalic Acid Wood Bleach Remover and allow the piece of furniture to dry.

Oxalic Acid Bleach for removing paint

How to Clean Finished Surfaces for Fresh Application

If you want to apply Real Milk Paint to already-finished horizontal or vertical surfaces, you don’t need to know how to strip a surface, just how to effectively clean it. cleaner from The Real Milk Paint Co. fills the bill in this regard with a formulation designed to clean soot, dirt and grime.

First, protect yourself with gloves and safety glasses, as this concentrated cleaner contains powerful chemicals. Next, mix two tablespoons of Tri-Sodium Phosphate with a gallon of water for use. When the product dissolves, simply wipe it across surfaces that need a thorough cleaning, let them dry, then start painting or staining. Tri-Sodium Phosphate leaves no residue behind, eliminating the need for more preparation.

Repairing Damaged Wood After Using Paint Stripper

While you may think the old garage sale or estate sale find with intricate details you nabbed is in good enough condition to restore by just removing the existing paint job, some pieces can be deceiving until you remove paint from wood surfaces.

This makes it especially important to check pieces from top to bottom before you get involved and find you need to fix damaged wood to continue. If the fine details hypnotize you even after you know the piece is damaged, however, the Real Milk Paint Co. can help with products to repair minor issues with wood.

For instance, if you remove paint from wood and discover gouges hidden in hard-to-reach places or underneath an especially thick layer of paint, our Real Wood Filler can help. Made from finely ground firwood, this soft, putty-like compound sticks easily to wood — along with glass, metal and pretty much any other hard surface. Once applied to dents, scratches and gouges, this wood filler allows sawing, drilling, nailing, sanding, painting, staining and varnishing for versatility in repairs.

Now that you know how to strip paint from wood, including lead paint, it’s a simple thing to remove paint from wood projects and add your own personal touches. From start to finish, the Real Milk Paint Co. helps you out with high-quality products for cleaning, stripping and finishing your wood projects in style.