How to Remove Paint from Wood: A 10-Step Guide for Indoor and Outdoor Furniture

If you're wondering how to remove paint from wood furniture, you’ve come to the right place. Whether it's a vintage heirloom or a DIY project gone wrong, we'll walk you through removing paint from wood indoors and outdoors. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover different methods so you can choose the one that suits your needs. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get started!

1. Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

To successfully remove paint from wood, you'll need the following items:

  • Safety goggles and gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting
  • Scraper (plastic or metal)
  • Sandpaper (coarse and fine-grit)
  • Paint stripper or remover
  • Paintbrush
  • Mineral spirits (for oil-based paint)
  • Clean cloth
  • Bucket of soapy water

2. Prepare the Work Area

Ensure proper ventilation in the room or work area before you begin. Lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect surrounding surfaces from paint chips and debris.

3. Identify the Paint Type

Knowing the type of paint on your wood will help you determine the best removal method. Common types include latex, oil-based, or gloss paint.  Perform a simple test by applying a small amount of paint stripper or remover to an inconspicuous area, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure.

Tips for removing gloss paint from wood  

When it comes to gloss paint, the most effective way so far has proved to be through heat. You can use a heat gun or blow torch to remove the paint.  These tools must be used carefully and correctly to remove the paint. Then once heat is applied, try using a scrapper to remove what is left of the paint.  

4. Use a Mechanical Removal 

If the painted surface is thick or has multiple layers of paint, use a scraper to mechanically remove as much paint as possible. Gently push the scraper against the wood's grain, being careful not to damage the surface.

5. Apply Paint Stripper 

For stubborn or hard-to-reach areas, a paint stripper can be highly effective. Use a paintbrush to apply a generous layer of paint stripper to the painted surface, ensuring even coverage. Follow the product instructions regarding application time and necessary safety precautions. This will work especially well when removing oil paint from wood.

6. Let the Paint Stripper Work

Allow the paint stripper to sit on the wood according to the manufacturer's instructions. 10 to 15 minutes should give it time to penetrate and soften the paint. 


Once the paint stripper has had sufficient time to work, use a scraper to gently remove the softened paint. Start at one edge and carefully scrape away the paint, working in the direction of the wood grain. Wipe the excess paint onto a disposable cloth or paper towel.

7. Sand the Surface

After removing the majority of the paint, use coarse-grit sandpaper to smooth out any remaining paint or rough spots on the wood. Follow up with fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish. Sand along the wood grain for the best results, being mindful not to over sand.

Removing paint from wood without sanding

If you want to remove paint from wood without sanding, use a paint stripper and then use a softener product such as a hot air gun instead of sanding. Chemical stripping is another way of removing paint from wood without sanding - it also targets hard-to-reach areas. 

8. Clean the Wood

To remove any remaining paint residue and stripper residue, dampen a clean cloth in a bucket of soapy water and gently scrub the wood surface. Rinse the cloth frequently and change the water as needed.

9. Let the Wood Dry

Allow the wood to air dry completely before moving on to any further treatment or refinishing. This step is crucial to ensure the wood is ready for the next stage.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully removed paint from your wood furniture. Remember, different methods may be more suitable depending on the type of paint and wood you’re working with. With this step-by-step guide, you can confidently tackle paint removal from indoor and outdoor wood furniture. 


Check out our landscaping materials for your home improvement project. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact our team at Creative Wood.


Note: When using any chemicals or tools, always follow the manufacturer’s guidance.

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