How To Use Paint Remover

Is your paintwork starting to peel off? When it comes to painting, it is said, "Paint once and paint well". However, if you haven't sanded the surface of your wood before applying new paint, sooner or later you're likely to get into an unsightly mess. Fortunately for you or anyone who has had to deal with these issues, here are a few tried and tested methods on how to use paint remover. 

Before we get started on how to use paint remover, let's understand what a paint remover is. 

A paint remover or stripper is a chemical used to dissolve and remove paint from a surface. 

Types of paint removers:

  • Caustic-based: Also known as an alkaline base, this paint remover degrades chemicals in the paint, has a high pH, usually with sodium hydroxide as an active ingredient that will react with the oily ingredients in the paint and breaks them down.
  • Solvent-based: This paint remover breaks the bond between the object and the paint, usually, with methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane) this can cause the paint to crack or blister.

What type of paint remover to use?

It entirely depends on the painted surface, the paint used and the condition of the painted surface. There is no shortage of removers to choose from. Many painters are loyal to a brand. If you are not yet one of them, contact your dealer, ask other painters, and experiment. For example, you might prefer one brand for wood and another for concrete.

Caustic Based paint removers are suitable for removing thick layers of paint, they are ideal for surfaces with detailed moldings due to their texture. However, with caustic-based paint removers, there is a risk of staining or damaging wooden surfaces, in contrast to solvent-based paint removers which do not stain or damage. 

Solvent-based paint removers can be a bit messy to use and may not remove thick layers of paint in one coat of the paint remover, but the advantage of solvent-based paint removers is that you get a clean finish with no stains or damage on the surface. Solvent-based paint removers also tend to be a bit more expensive than caustic paint removers.

Things you need:

  • Chip brushes- these are disposable brushes for applying the paint remover of your choice. 
  • Plastic spatula
  • Scraper
  • Brass wire brush or old toothbrush
  • Putty knife
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses and a face mask
  • Steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • Few old rags
  • Sandpaper

How to prepare the surface

  • Protect the surrounding surfaces by taping up and covering with sheeting around the area where you will be using the paint remover.
  • Take care of the walls and floors below where you are using the paint remover, you do not want the liquid to leak out of the stripped paint. 
Other safety precautions that you should follow to protect yourself include:
  • A long-sleeved shirt
  • Heavy gloves or chemical-resistant rubber gloves
  • Face mask
  • Safety glasses
  • A well-ventilated work area

How to use paint remover

Now that you have prepared yourself and chosen the paint remover you want, let’s move on to how to use the paint remover.
  1. Apply a thick coat of paint remover to the area of the surface where you want to remove the paint.
Note: Wait for the time specified by the paint remover’s manufacturer. It is usually between 20 minutes and an hour.

Use a putty knife to check if the paint is soft and can be peeled off. If not, wait for some more time. If the paint is still not crackling and coming off, apply another layer of the paint remover and wait.

3. Use the plastic spatula to remove as much paint as possible by peeling the paint off the surface. Use the scraper in places where the paint is hard.

4. Use steel wool soaked in paint remover to remove small spots of paint that may remain on the surface.

5. Use the brass wire brush or an old toothbrush dipped in paint remover to clean hard-to-reach areas such as finely carved surfaces.

Note: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean the surface after all the paint has been scraped off. Some manufacturers require the use of a paint remover while others can be cleaned with water. 

Pro Tip: Old rags dipped in mineral spirits do a great job.

6. Let the surface dry completely, 24 to 48 hours is what is recommended. Use sandpaper to remove any remaining paint residue and smoothen the surface.
Your surface is now ready for a new coat of paint and a brand-new look.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Resolute Desk, used by most of the presidents of the United States in the Oval Office, is made of wood from an abandoned British ship that was rediscovered by American sailors? President Rutherford Hayes was presented with the desk in 1880 by Queen Victoria.

Tips to Remove Paint:

  • Pour the paint remover into a container that is metal or ceramic that you have no use for after.
  • Begin work on one side of the surface and work in sections.
  • Use liquid or spray paint removers only on horizontal surfaces
  • Use gels or pastes on vertical surfaces
  • If the paint is old, has multiple coats, and is difficult to remove, use a plastic wrap to cover it up.
  • Use multiple coats of the paint remover.
We hope this article on how to use paint remover was helpful. 

Happy DIY! 

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