Sanding is one of the fastest ways to remove paint from a surface, especially for rougher jobs. Using a heavy-grit sandpaper or belt sander, you can clean a surface of chipped, worn paint in a matter of minutes. While there are drawbacks to sanding (it's not recommended for furniture, as it removes some of the surface beneath the paint), it's a classic method that gets the job done.
Select a heavy-grade and medium-grade sand paper. The lower the number, the heavier the grade. If using a belt sander, select a sandpaper belt compatible with your belt sander. Talk to the store clerk or refer to your belt sander's user manual for more information on compatible sandpaper belts. Installation of the sandpaper into your belt sander may vary from model to model; refer to your user manual for this information.
Put on safety glasses and a face mask. Sanding paint causes a lot of debris and paint dust in the air. Do not breathe it in or get it in your eyes.
Turn on your belt sander (if using one) and sand away the paint, using the heavy-grit sandpaper. Move along the grain of the wood. If doing the job by hand, expect the process to take a lot of elbow grease and effort.
Change to a medium-grit sandpaper as soon as you see the surface beneath the paint. This will minimize the amount of the surface worn away from sanding and allows you to remove the paint with more precision.
If removing paint from a house made before 1978, lead may be an issue. Never remove paint unless you're sure it's lead-free. If not, hire a professional.