How to Remove Old Paint From Woodwork


If you have moved into an older home, you have probably experienced the natural woodwork having two or more coats of paint. The trend at one time was to cover the wood, but as the value of wood is realized in our shrinking rainforest world of today, designer, builders, architects and homeowners are deciding to peel off the paint and restore the wood to its original beauty.

Step 1

Purchase a paint stripper, which will melt the paint so that it is once again a liquid. Also purchase the rest of the materials needed for this project.

Step 2

Open a window to maintain a well-ventilated area in which to work. Most paint remover has a very loud odor, so it is vital to have fresh air constantly circulating.

Step 3

Place newspaper around the work area to protect other surfaces from the stain.

Step 4

Put on gloves, eye protection and face mask to protect your skin and lungs.

Step 5

Apply the paint stripper to the wood according to the manufacturer's directions for the product you have chosen using a paint brush. The paint will begin to bubble up as it starts working.

Step 6

Watch the product and do not leave the paint stripper on for longer than the recommended time.

Step 7

Remove the paint with a metal scrapper once it begins to bubble. Scrape in the direction of the grain. Do not scrape too hard. The wood is weak at the surface as the paint stripper is breaking the bond the paint has with the surface. You can damage the wood while it is wet by scraping too hard.

Step 8

Repeat application of paint stripper if all the paint was not removed during the first application.

Step 9

Allow the wood to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 10

Using a fine grit sandpaper, sand the surface in the direction of the wood grain. Sand enough to remove any residual paint. The surface should be smooth to the touch.

Step 11

Wipe dust from the wood using a damp sponge. The sponge should only be damp and not soaked. After removing the layers of paint it is important to treat the wood with a lot of care. Allow it to dry.

Step 12

Apply your choice of stain in the direction of the grain using a rag. Use a second rag to remove any excess stain. Let it dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 13

Apply a second coat, allow it to dry.

Step 14

Apply two clear coats of polyurethane, allowing each coat to dry in between applications.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint stripper
  • Paint brushes
  • Metal spatula
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Rags
  • Sponges
  • Polyurethane
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Eye protection
  • Newspaper
Keywords: wood, refinishing paint, stripping wood, restoration paint, removal

About this Author

Eugenia Orr, an editorial columnist since 2006, has been featured in various publications including "Green Business Quarterly," "Our Annual Green Book," and "N'Digo Magapaper." Orr holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design from International Academy of Design & Technology, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Olivet Nazarene University.

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