How To Remove Paint And Stain From Wood

If you want to refurbish an antique chair with a fresh coat of stain, or if you wish to know how to remove paint that you accidentally splattered on your hardwood floors, you're probably wondering what's the best way to remove paint and stain from wood. Luckily, several methods will effectively remove paint and stain residue.

You can remove paint and stain from wood with:

  • Heat guns
  • Chemical paint strippers
  • Sanding
  • Pressure washing
  • Eco-friendly paint removers

Now that we know the different ways for removing paint and stain from wood, we'll look at how to utilize each method to see which is the most suitable choice for your home décor needs. So keep reading to learn step-by-step instructions for paint and stain removal and find the answers to some questions that you may have. 

A paint expert removing pain on the wall, How To Remove Paint And Stain From Wood

How To Remove Paint And Stain From Wood With Each Method?

Heat Guns

Heat guns work by targeting paint with high heat temperatures (some go over 1,000 degrees) to soften the paint. Move the heat gun quickly in an up and down motion until the paint bubbles and then immediately scrape off the melted paint with a handheld scraper. Take care not to hold the heat gun in one spot for too long, as this will cause the paint to burn. 


  • They can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Faster and less messy than chemical paint removers
  • They come with different nozzles to disperse heat in targeted areas.
  • The gun heats up in seconds and can be used immediately


  • High temperatures can mean injuries; be sure to wear heat-resistant gloves when using a heat gun.
  • Softened paint will need to be scraped off promptly, or it will quickly harden again.
  •  Hot paint scrapings that fall on the floor may pose a fire hazard
  • Not as effective at removing wood stain; it works better on paint 

Click here to see this heat gun on Amazon.

Chemical Paint Strippers

You should always follow the directions listed on chemical paint strippers. They contain caustic materials and need to be handled carefully. To see step-by-step instructions on how to use chemical paint strippers, watch this helpful video:


  • Very effective at removing paint and wood stain
  • Many formulas are thick and stay in place without dripping.
  • Easy to apply with minimal materials


  • You will need to wear protective gear like gloves and a mask.
  • Rooms must be well-ventilated 
  • The harsh chemical smell may be overbearing.
  • Chemical strippers will need to sit for minutes to hours, depending on the formula-solvents containing methylene chloride work the fastest.


Sanding paint and sand from wooden surfaces can be accomplished by a manual or power sander. First, clean the wood surface with a mild cleanser and allow it to dry thoroughly before sanding. Next, start with a coarse 80 grit sandpaper and move back and forth with just the right amount of pressure-too much force will damage the wood. 

Finally, wipe the dust from the wood and change the sandpaper to a medium 150 grit. Sand over the entire surface, wipe the dust off, and switch sandpaper to a fine 220 grit. Once again, sand over the surface and wipe off the excess dust. When you're satisfied with the paint or stain removal, wipe the surface with a damp cloth.


  • You can use sandpaper to create a vintage, distressed look on furniture.
  • Faster at removing paint and stain than chemical strippers


  • There may be a learning curve when learning how much pressure to apply without damaging the wood.
  • A professional may be required for an efficient sanding job, as the process can be challenging to master.
  • Dust and wood shavings can pose a health hazard, especially if the paint you're removing contains lead.

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is a fast and efficient way to remove paint from an outdoor wooden surface. Check out the following video to see how to use a pressure washer for paint removal:


  • Fast at removing paint from wooden surfaces
  • No chemicals are required
  • Power washers are readily available and can be found at many retail and hardware stores.


  • Pressure washing requires an extended drying time before applying paint, which can be up to 48 hours.
  • You will need to cover surrounding areas with a tarp. If painting a deck, you'll need to sweep all dirt and debris before starting. 
  • Too much water pressure can damage the wood.
  • May need to use chemical paint strippers or other methods of paint removal to complete the job.

Eco-Friendly Paint Removers

Eco-friendly paint removers contain natural ingredients, like citrus. They are applied much like chemical strippers in that they are brushed on, allowed to dry, and then scraped off with a handheld scraper. 


  • User and environmentally friendly with no toxic fumes 
  • Easy to use
  • Many formulas are non-drip, so they stay put on wooden surfaces


  • Several applications are required for paint and stain removal.
  • It doesn't work as fast as chemical strippers or some other paint and stain removal methods.

Click here to see this eco-friendly citrus paint remover on Amazon.

Can You Strip Paint From Wood And Stain It?

A man removing paint on the door frame

Wood can be stained after stripping off old paint, but it needs to be cleaned first. According to HGTV, there are several steps to removing paint from wood and then staining it. Let's take a look at what you need to do.

  1. Remove all paint from the surface using a paint stripper and then scrape off the excess with a handheld scraper.
  2. Use a commercial wax remover or mineral spirits to loosen wax residue from the wood.
  3. Take a power or manual sander to sand away the rest of the paint and reveal the natural wood underneath. Start by using coarse grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to fine-grit sandpaper.
  4. Use tack cloths to wipe the wood's surface. Tack cloths have a sticky adhesive that will remove lingering traces of dust left behind.
  5. Now you're ready to apply a wood stain of your choice.

Click here to see these tack cloths on Amazon.

Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Wood?

DIY Paint removing products

Vinegar will not remove paint from wood, but it softens the paint, making it easier to scrape off. To use, pour some white vinegar in a pot and heat on the stove until it boils. Alternatively, you can pour vinegar into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it that way.

Dab a paintbrush or sponge in the vinegar and apply it to the paint. Allow the vinegar to sit for 10-15 minutes, and then scrape off the paint with a handheld scraper. If the paint hasn't softened after the allotted time, you can reapply the vinegar as often as needed. 

Does Vinegar Remove Wood Stain?

A man painting the fence with white paint

Vinegar may remove a light-colored wood stain, but probably not for a very dark-colored wood stain. Pour some white vinegar on the wood and scrub with a stiff brush. Allow the vinegar to sit for a few minutes and then wipe off with a damp cloth. You can repeat the process as much as you like until the wood stain becomes lighter in color. 

Can I Sand The Paint Off Wood?

A woman removing paint on the small white table using a sand paper

You can sand the paint off wood! As we mentioned earlier, paint can be sanded off with a manual or power sander. You will start with coarse-grit sandpaper to even out the surface and work your way to medium and fine-grit sandpaper to finish the job.

However, sanding the paint off wood can be difficult, and it may be wise to hire a professional; this is because the wood must be sanded with, not against, the grain and with the precise amount of pressure for optimal results.

What Is The Fastest Way To Sand Paint Off Wood?

A man using a sander to remove pain on the door

The fastest way to sand paint off wood is with a power sander. Power sanders are fast and are better suited for removing paint and stain from large surfaces. Random orbital sanders are an excellent choice because you can use them one-handed, and they are gentler on wood than other sanders on the market. 

Click here to see this random orbital sander on Amazon.

What Is The Best Paint Remover For Wood?

A big can of paint remover and a small can for storing

The best paint removers for wood are chemical paint strippers. Chemical strippers are fast, effective, and beginner-friendly. As long as you're in a well-ventilated room, wear protective gear, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, chemical paint strippers are a sure-fire way to remove paint from any wooden surface.

In Closing

There are numerous ways to remove paint and stain from wood, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Whether you decide to use heat guns, chemical strippers, sanding, pressure washing, or eco-friendly strippers, we hope that our information helps you know which choice is best for your DIY project.

Thanks for reading! For more home décor tips and inspiration, be sure to check out:

How To Clean Bathroom Cabinets Before Painting Them

What Kind Of Paint Can You Use On Outdoor Furniture?

How To Make Paint Dry Faster [3 Methods]

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