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How to Sand Paint Off Wood?

Do you wish to rejuvenate your weary furniture pieces or woodworks with a fresh coat of paint? Whether it has blisters, cracks, or lumpy layers of pigments, it’s advisable to completely take it off. The best way to do this is to completely strip the furniture off the old paint and start with a bare wooden surface. Although you can paint over stained wood, stripping away the old paint will help the new covering to stay firmly attached to the surface.

You may come across various methods to remove paint from wood. Here we have decided to refurbish the woodworks using the paint stripper and sanding method. In this post, we will guide you through the step-by-step instruction of this process. Let’s get started!

Supplies Needed

Here are some of the tools and supplies you will need before working on the wood pieces.

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Step By Step Instructions To Remove Paint Off Wood By Sanding

Step 1: Check if the woodwork is worthy of exposing

Do you wish to expose your old furniture piece and fix it using a clear coat instead of paint? If so, you need to figure out if it was initially painted or varnished.

For this, it is advisable to figure out a hidden spot such as the inside area of a closet or drawers. Next, shave a test patch area with a scraper’s help through the various layers of paint. If the piece was initially varnished, it’s worth exposing. However, if you come across paint at the bottom layer, it shows that the wood is not worthy of any stain.

At the same time, you should also remove any unwanted fixings from the wood – including any old nails, or screws that have had their heads stripped off.

Step 2: Applying Paint Stripper. 

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Before you start, gear yourself up with safety glasses, an apron, protective gloves, and clothing; never try to work on this project in shorts or open-toed footwear. Make sure to work in a properly ventilated area, mostly outdoors.

Next, get rid of all the screws, doorknobs, nails, and brackets from the area that you’re planning to work on. As for areas that are non-removable, cover them up using protective plastic and tapes. Then, as per the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the paint stripper. Most brands instruct to apply a thick coat of the stripper using brush strokes in only one direction. Note that if the stripper coat is thin, it won’t work effectively. Never try skimping on this step.

Are you using an eco-friendly stripper or have lots of paint layers to strip? Then, wrap up the entire wood piece in plastic wrap after applying the first coat. Wait for around 15 minutes to a maximum of 24 hours before you start peeling the paint. In less than 20 minutes, you’re sure to see great results.

Step 3: Wait till the paint bubbles up. 

Once you start seeing bubbles on the surface, it shows that the paint’s first layer is set to get stripped. If you have wrapped the wood with plastic, try peeling the corners slowly to check.

However, remember never to leave the paint stripper and paint on the wood for long hours. In case the paint stripper and paint dries off completely, it will harden and become difficult to remove from the wood piece. Make sure that the paint stripper is still wet when you touch it before you start scraping.

Step 4: Scrap using a metal putty knife. 

Start scraping the various paint layers using a metal putty knife carefully. Avoid being extremely aggressive as it can gouge the woodwork. Generally, during the first try, all the paint may not come off. That’s fine! Just scrape the stuff that comes off easily.

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Scraping paint off of a door frame

Never use a plastic putty knife for scraping in case you have applied a heavy-duty paint stripper. This is because the paint stripper will melt the plastic.

Step 5: Repeat the paint stripper application, if needed. 

You may have to add 3 to 4 layers of paint stripper to delete the paint stains. This mainly depends on the number of paint layers present on the woodwork, type of paint, and paint stripper used.

Step 6: Cleanse using Mineral Spirits. 

Once you have cleared most of the paint, clean the remaining paint stripper using mineral spirits and a rag. Certain eco-friendly strippers will recommend using water instead of these spirits. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as water may open up the wood grains.

Step 7: Use steel wool for stubborn stains. 

After cleaning using the cloth and mineral spirits, remove the stubborn spots using steel wool dipped in the mineral spirit. This eliminates most of the stains and paints that the cloth was unable to remove.

Step 8: Prepare the wood for the refinishing works. 

Once you have removed most of the paint, clean the surface using a damp cloth. Next, you can give the woodwork a final rub using a paint thinner. After it dries, give the wooden piece some light sanding to smoothen the edges. You can also use a power sander to quicken the process. If you go down this route, there are certain sanders that are more suited to sanding woodwork. Wipe the surface clear, and the refinished wood is good to go.

Decide If You Prefer To DIY Or Get Professional Assistance

Before you start a project, you need to know how big and complicated it is and whether you will be able to tackle it yourself. If not, you still have various options available.

Hire assurance:

Do you have an entire side that needs to be stripped quickly or a house full of trimming things? If so, it’s advisable to get qualified professionals to trim it on-site.

Sending it to professionals:

If the woodworks you plan to strip can be easily removable and come with intricate details like staircase wood railings, you may find it hard to work on them. Consider sending these pieces to professionals along with a dip tank. Professional experts use these vats for soaking the entire wood pieces in liquid paint removers. This method results in quicker and more perfect results.

Wrap Up

If you follow the above steps carefully, you will easily sand the paint from your woodwork. It’ll also help you to keep your old furniture and wooden pieces fresh and new.


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