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Painting directly onto a wooden surface that still has remnants of previous paint will create inconsistent results, particularly if the underlayer is chipped, scratched, or damaged in any way because this will show through the freshly painted layer.
Failing to prepare the wood properly beforehand will likely affect the appearance of the finished project.
Though it is possible to use a sander, this method requires much more effort on your part and is also more time-consuming. A paint stripper that is suitable for use in wood, will make this task much less challenging.
If you are unaware of the best paint strippers on the market we have done the hard work for you.
Below we have reviewed our top 5 picks of the best paint strippers for wood available. We have also provided a handy buyer’s guide to help you choose the best product for your needs.
Our Top Pick
|Citrisip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel ||
Best Budget Pick
|Sunnyside Multi-Strip Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover ||
|Dumond Chemicals Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover ||
Best Industrial Strength Formula
|D Super Remover Paint Stripper ||
|Safe ‘n Easy Paint & Varnish Remover Gel||
5 Best Paint Strippers For Wood
1. Our Top Pick: Citrisip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel
The Citrisip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and can be applied to wood, metal, and other masonry surfaces to remove dried latex and oil-based paints, varnish, polyurethane, and shellac.
As this product has a citrus scent, it doesn’t emit any harsh fumes. It’s also free of methylene chloride; a noxious chemical that can be harmful to those who are exposed to it.
This stripping product is also easy to use courtesy of the bottle design which allows you to pour it into a smaller container with ease. Then it can simply be applied to the wooden surface using a paintbrush.
Once it has been brushed onto the wood allow it to work for a couple of hours and then wipe it off – it’s as easy as that.
Impressively, this stripper is capable of removing five layers of dried latex paint in less than an hour.
Following application to the surface, it will remain active for a maximum of 24 hours which allows for easy stripping of multiple layers of paint in one step.
- Effective – many customers have reported that this product delivered visible results within a short amount of time.
- Ease to Use – this product is easy to use and the step-by-step instructions are detailed on the back of the packaging.
- No Fumes – free of fumes, this gel has a citrus scent that isn’t as overpowering as products that emit a strong chemical smell.
- Formulation – as this stripper is a little thick, you will likely need to apply a lot onto the surface.
2. Best Budget Pick: Sunnyside Multi-Strip Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover
For those looking for a budget-friendly product, the Sunnyside Multi-Strip Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover is an excellent choice.
It has a safe and professional formula that doesn’t contain any methylene chloride or NMP. Whilst it delivers effective results when used on wooden surfaces, it can also be used on multiple other interior and exterior surfaces.
The non-drip formula makes it easy to use on vertical surfaces because you don’t need to worry about it running and creating a mess.
Per gallon, you should expect this paint to cover approximately 60 to 100 square feet. As this is a multi-strip product, it claims to remove up to 15 layers of paint in one application.
To use this remover you can use either a brush, roller, putty knife, or stripping tool. The volume of product that you apply will depend on the thickness of paint that you are trying to remove.
For a lighter coat, 1 to 4 layers will be necessary, however, for heavier coats, it is likely that you will need to apply more.
- Ease to Use – When a thick layer of this stripper is applied to the wooden surface it will peel off with ease.
- Activation – once applied, it will begin working in as little as 30 minutes.
- Size – there are three different-sized bottles available so you can select the amount of product that you require.
- Odor – Some customers have stated that this product had a stronger smell than they were expecting.
3. Dumond Chemicals Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover
The Dumond Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover has an earth-friendly, biodegradable, water-based formula that is free from methylene chloride and is non-carcinogenic. Because of this formulation, it is not only safe for the user but the environment too.
This striper is pH neutral and doesn’t emit any odors so it isn’t likely to overpower those who are applying it. Aside from this, it also claims to remove up to 15 layers of paint from a range of interior and exterior surfaces, including wood, in a single application.
To apply this stripping product to the surface, you will require the use of a brush, roller, or sprayer. Depending on the thickness of the paint that you are attempting to remove you will need to allow it 3 to 24 hours to work. As it remains wet for an extended period it is easy to work with.
- Made in the USA – because this product has been made in the USA you are aware of where it has been sourced.
- Effective – this product works well at removing multiple layers of paint.
- Consistency – thanks to the thicker consistency it will adhere to the surface without sliding off.
- Messy – it leaves the paint with a slightly sticky texture which may become messy.
4. D Super Remover Paint Stripper
Renowned for achieving great results, the D Super Remover Paint Stripper is a strong contender.
The formula is strong and doesn’t contain any harmful or toxic chemicals such as methylene chloride or NMP. It is also safe for application on wood, metal, and concrete and delivers a natural finish.
As a versatile product, it can be used to remove oil and latex paints, varnishes, lacquers, shellacs, and epoxies. Because this is an industrial-grade stripper, it is also suitable for heavy-duty applications.
Impressively, it claims to remove up to 5 layers of paint, and should there be any remnants left behind, it can be cleaned with water.
Thanks to the fast-acting formulation, this stripper will begin working in as little as 15 minutes.
To use the product, you will need to apply a generous amount of product onto the surface before spreading it to create a layer with uniform consistency.
Once it has been allowed to stand you can then begin scraping it using a spatula of some kind.
- Effective – this stripper is effective in removing multiple layers of paint from different surfaces.
- Industrial – as an industrial-grade product you can be confident that it has a strong formulation.
- Activation – impressively, this product takes as little as 15 minutes to activate before the paint can be stripped from the surface.
- Messy – this stripper can be a little messy when applying to the surface so it is worth being cautious of this.
5. Safe ‘n Easy Paint & Varnish Remover Gel
Suitable for interior and exterior surfaces, the Safe ‘n Easy Paint & Varnish Remover compromises of a water-based formula that is resistant to dripping.
Instead, it will adhere to the surface following application. The formula is also biodegradable and doesn’t contain any harmful or dangerous chemicals e.g methylene chloride or NMP. For this reason, it is safe for the user and the environment.
In regards to surface suitability, of course, this gel can be used on wood but it can also be used on concrete, brick, masonry, metal, fiberglass, and many more.
As such, its uses certainly aren’t limited. It is also compatible with latex and oil-based paints and varnishes.
Impressively, this product is expected to remove at least 15 layers of paint. It is also easy to use. Simply apply it to the wooden surface that needs to be stripped, allow it to set, and then rinse it off.
- Guarantee – This product is covered by a satisfaction guarantee so you can return it and receive a refund if you are dissatisfied with your purchase.
- Size – there are different sized bottles available so you can select the amount that you require according to the scale of the project.
- Scent – this remover gel has an orange, citrus aroma which smells more pleasant than many other products that have a more chemical scent.
- Consistency – as a thinner product it is more likely to slide when applied to vertical surfaces.
How does a paint stripper remove paint from wood?
A paint stripper is used to remove multiple layers of paint, varnish, and other substances from a particular surface.
Impressively, some can remove up to 15 layers in a single application, although this will depend on the thickness of the coats.
When it comes to removing paint from a wooden surface, the use of a stripper certainly provides the most viable solution.
This method typically works best on existing layers of paint that have coated the surface for several years. A paint stripper is a chemically formulated product that will penetrate the layers of paint to soften it.
Eventually, the paint will separate from the surface and you can then scrape it away. It will also clean the surface beneath the paint.
The effort that you will need to apply to remove the stripper will differ between products.
Sometimes the paint may appear to bubble or it may peel off with ease. Other products may require you to apply more pressure to encourage the paint to loosen from the wooden surface.
To apply a stripper to the wood you will require the use of a paintbrush, roller, or a sprayer. You will then need to create a uniform layer of the stripper against the wood and allow it time to set.
Some will begin to work within as little as 15 minutes. The time will depend on the thickness of the coat that the product needs to work through.
Most will stay active for around 24 hours and this gives you plenty of time to peel the product before it dries. You will require the use of a scraper of some kind to remove the paint.
Using a paint stripper safely
It is important to ensure that a paint stripper is used safely. The majority will be free of harsh chemicals which can present risks to the user and the environment.
However, we would advise you to have gloves, a mask/respirator, and goggles available for added protection. This is especially important if the product is going to emit fumes or contains any irritants.
If you are going to be stripping interior wooden surfaces, it is worth ensuring that the area is sufficiently ventilated to prevent any fumes from building up indoors. Instead, ventilation will allow these fumes to dissipate.
Preparing the wood for the application of a paint stripper
The wood will need to be prepared ahead of the application of a stripper. Even when dealing with products that claim to have a mild formula, you should still wear gloves to protect your skin from contact with it.
First, you must ensure that you have all of the necessary supplies. This will include the paint stripper itself, a putty knife, scraper, a paintbrush, roller, or an air sprayer.
You will also require the use of a plastic sheet as this will delay the time in which the paint begins to evaporate, particularly in warmer environments.
Before you begin to apply the stripper you should protect the surrounding environment by covering it with a sheet. Should the product be messy to apply, your work area will not be affected.
Of course, as the paint starts to peel this plastic sheet will be responsible for catching any excess particles.
It is also worth having some cleaning supplies nearby so that you can clean the surface if needed and you can also clean your tools should they be subject to a build-up of the peeled materials.
The specifications of the product will then state how it should be used. It is important to abide by these guidelines to ensure that it is applied correctly and left to dry for a sufficient length of time.
Factors To Consider
There are several factors that we would recommend you consider when choosing a paint stripper for wood.
Ideally, your paint stripper should be formulated without using any harmful chemicals such as methylene chloride or NMP.
This is because these chemicals can be harmful should they come into contact with skin but can also affect the eyes, heart, and liver.
Many paint strippers will have a biodegradable, eco-friendly formula that also makes it safe for the environment.
A paint stripper that has a heavy chemical formulation is more likely to emit a strong and overwhelming odor. Many of the products that we have recommended above do not contain harsh chemicals and are odorless, though some will have a scent of some kind.
Remember to consider the environment in which the stripper is going to be used.
In more enclosed areas you are likely to find a strong, chemically smelling product challenging to contend with, hence why the use of a respirator will be necessary.
The product packaging will state whether it has a scent or not.
The size of the bottle will differ between brands. Many will offer their products in a selection of sizes so you can choose the volume of product that you require according to the scale of the project.
Strippers with a thicker consistency will need to be applied in more generous amounts so you are likely to go through more product, especially if you are applying it to a large surface.
Selecting the correct sized product will ensure that you don’t run out midway through the completion of the project.
Most paint strippers have a thicker, gel-like consistency which makes them easy to apply to the surface.
This will also ensure that it doesn’t drip and create a mess. Those that are thinner are more likely to run and maybe more challenging to work with particularly on vertical surfaces.
The paint stripper should be effective in delivering the desired results otherwise it is likely to be a wasted purchase.
If the product claims that it is going to remove a certain number of layers then obviously, it should be successful in doing so.
In some instances, the stripper can be left on for too long. Most will stay wet for at least 24 hours and this means that you have plenty of time to remove the different layers without worrying about them drying.
If the stripper dries and becomes hard shortly after application then you are going to struggle to remove the layers of paint.
Ease Of Use
Most paint strippers are easy to use but those who do not have previous experience of using such products will benefit from the instructions that are typically detailed on the product packaging.
Typically, you simply need to apply the stripper onto the surface using your chosen piece of equipment and then spread it until the layer is even.
Once it has been given sufficient time to set and work into the surface, it will then need to be scraped off.
You will know when the paint is ready to remove because it should appear much looser. Whilst some products will come in a tub, others will come in a bottle which will require you to pour it into a container.
The cost of paint strippers for wood can vary although there are many budget-friendly options available.
Though some can cost as little as $10, others can cost as much as $50, the price that you are willing to pay of course depends on your budget.
The size of the bottle that you purchase is going to affect the cost as those that come in larger quantities will retail within a higher price range.
It is also likely to be determined by the brand in which it is manufactured because those that are more well-known are likely to charge a higher price. We have included a variety in our guide above, with options to suit different budgets.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest way to remove paint from wood?
Paint can be removed from wood via one of the following methods: sanding the surface, using a hot air gun, or applying a paint stripping project.
The one that you opt for is likely to depend on the scale and severity of the project.
Do I need to strip wood before painting?
The use of a wood stripper isn’t always necessary but is instead determined by the nature of your project and the state of the wood.
In some cases, you can simply sand the wood in preparation for the application of paint. However, if the wood appears scratched and damaged the use of a stripped will prove effective.
Attempting to paint straight onto the wood without stripping it beforehand will result in poor bonding and visible defects.