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How to Strip Paint

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You may be surprised to discover how effective stripping off the old paint is before applying your fresh paint. Painting straight over old paint causes bumps, cracks and peeling, so follow our easy guide to get you started properly.

Step 1

Methods & Preparation

Methods & Preparation

There are three methods for stripping paint: thermally, chemically and mechanically. The mechanical method involves the use of wire brushes, sanders and rotary tools, and you can view this method in our guide “How to Paint a Metal Gate”. We will show you the other two methods in this guide. It is vital to wear protective gloves and goggles while working with rusty paint or chemicals. Before starting, place a tarpaulin or laminated dustsheet on the floor or ground to protect it.

Step 2

Hook Scraper

Hook Scraper

The hook scraper is the most essential and valuable tool when stripping paint. It has a curved surface that allows the user to easily remove paint from awkward-to-reach areas. Use the hook scraper to remove paint from the nooks and crannies of your piece of furniture.

Step 3

Thermal Paint Removal - Blowtorch

Thermal Paint Removal - Blowtorch

An easy method for stripping paint from metal surfaces is to use a blowtorch. Hold the flame of the torch gently over a small section of the paintwork. The heat will cause the paint to bubble and melt away from the surface. This method can also be used on wood but may cause charring or marks so it should be reserved for items which will be sanded afterwards.

Step 4

Thermal Paint Removal - Hot Air Gun

Thermal Paint Removal - Hot Air Gun

Another thermal paint removal method is to use a hot air gun, which works in the same way as the blowtorch method. A hot air gun blows out heated air, like a hair dryer but at a much hotter temperature and with a narrower stream of air. Direct the hot air at a small section of the paintwork and when it melts it can be scraped away from the surface. This is an excellent method for stripping paint from timber as it is more gentle and controllable than a blowtorch.

Step 5

Chemical Paint Removal - Caustic Alkali Solution

Chemical Paint Removal - Caustic Alkali Solution

Paint stripping chemicals will dissolve skin the same way it dissolves paint, always wear protective gloves and eyewear, and do not come in direct contact with the solution. Caustic alkali solution is a chemical paint removal gel that can be applied thickly by brush and allowed to sit on the surface for 2-24 hours, depending on the condition of the paint to be removed. Follow the chemical manufacturer’s instructions. In order to keep the gel actively caustic, it must remain wet. An occasional fine misting of water will help. If the paint is stubborn or very thick, it will be necessary to leave the solution overnight. In this case, cover it with plastic to retain the moisture and maximise the caustic effect. After the paint has been dissolved in the solution, it will be soft enough to easily strip off using a scraper.