How To Remove Paint Before Painting

When undertaking DIY paint projects there may be a requirement to strip or remove the layers of paint that are currently on the surface before painting.

Please be aware that the existing paint may contain toxic dust and fumes when disturbed. This is more likely to be the case if the paint is old. Older paints may contain lead, and this can cause health problems if inhaled. It is best practice to be on the safe side. If the paint is 1960’s or earlier it will almost certainly contain lead.

Removing Paint by Mechanical Means

Hand Sander

For getting rid of light coats of paint a hand palm sander can remove some paint layers that remain on a surface.

Hand Sander by DeWalt

Heat Gun

A Heat gun helps to remove paint by softening the existing paint and that allows the paint to be scraped back easier. Heat guns normally come with different attachment nozzles so that the heat can be directed in different ways.

heat gun for paint stripping

Blasting Equipment

Blasting is a form of paint removal offered by specialist companies. When paint is stubborn and doesn’t get removed easily with other methods then there are options available. Although there are DIY units available this is a specialist undertaking that comes with hazards and can easily cause injury if used incorrectly.

Other Means of Stripping Paint


If there are small areas of paint that require stripping, then sandpaper can be used. It depends on the thickness of paint and the number of coats that need to be removed. This can be an extremely time-intensive way of stripping paint but can be effective where care is needed.

Paint Scraper

A paint scraper can be effective at removing flaking loose paint. These tools have sharp blades and can come in a variety of different sizes depending on the task. The best paint scrapers are made to last and will be durable, some come with changeable blades.

Paint scraper

Paint Stripper

Some manufacturers offer paint strippers. There have been bans on certain chemical strippers due to the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in recent years but some effective paint strippers still exist.

Removing Paint from Wood

There are three main techniques for removing paint from wood.

The methods are sanding, chemical stripping and hot air gun.

Sanding Paint for removal

Using sandpaper or a mechanical sander to remove paint is ideally suited for small projects. This can create a cloud of dust so please consider mask protection and extraction methods.

Chemical Stripping Paint from Wood

Chemical stripping

Typical DIY projects requiring stripping paint from wood are:

  • Staircases including the sides, rails, and banisters
  • Painted, varnished floorboards,
  • Pieces of furniture
  • Kitchen cupboard doors
  • Skirting, architrave, and trim
  • Door frames and window frames
  • Tables and chairs-interior and exterior.

Removing Paint from Metal

With metalwork, it follows the same principles as wood with regards to removing layers of paint.