How to Strip Paint From Wood

Stripping old paint from wooden furniture enables you to bring out the natural beauty of the wood underneath, either to refinish with wood stain or to repaint a fresh color. Elbow grease, good ventilation and paint thinning chemicals will help you get the job done if you follow these steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic Putty Knife
  • Rags
  • Mineral Spirits Or Paint Thinner
  • Old Paint Brushes
  • Screwdrivers
  • Masking Tape
  • Paint Stripping Chemical
  • Razor Blade Or Box Cutting Tool
  • Paint Scraper

Move the wood outside so you will have a ventilated area to work in. If you must work indoors, open all windows in the workspace and keep an electric fan running to circulate the air.

Remove all hardware from the wood to be stripped, including hinges, knobs, handles and decorative metalwork, using a screwdriver. If the hardware cannot be removed, cover it with masking tape and cut the tape with a razor blade or box cutting tool close to the edges.

Use the paint scraper to remove peeling and chipping paint. Take off as much paint as possible with the scraper to save time.

Apply paint stripper with an old paint brush in heavy strokes, moving in the same direction with each stroke to prevent smearing the old paint over the wood.

Allow the paint stripper to set for at least 15 minutes or the length of time recommended on the package instructions.

Lift away the old paint with the edge of a putty knife, wiping down the wood with rags as you work.

Wipe all wood surfaces with paint thinner or mineral spirits, using old rags.

Repeat the steps as necessary to remove all the old paint.

Let the wood dry at least 24 hours before refinishing.


  • Paint strippers are highly flammable liquids that can combust with explosive force if exposed to an open flame or excessive heat. Keep paint removal chemicals in a cool, dark storage area, preferably outside the home in a storage shed.