One of most common questions we get here here at Tashman’s is how to get rid of old paint and how to make the wood look nice.
Let’s review the easiest and best ways to remove paint and make wood look like new. There are three basic ways to remove paint from wood; sanding, stripping, and heating.
Here is what you’ll need for sanding:
- Dust Mask
- Sandpaper/electric sander
- Tack cloth
Sanding is the fastest and easiest way to remove paint, provided you have a good electric sander. This is a project best done outside or in a wood shop because the sawdust and tiny bits of paint will go everywhere.
The paint particles floating around the air are also quite toxic so the dust mask is very important and it would be better to get a high quality respirator. After the paint has been removed, the tack cloth is used to clean the freshly sanded wood of remaining dust.
Here is what you’ll need for stripping:
- Chemical stripper
Using a caustic chemical to dissolve the paint and then scraping it off is an effective but labor intensive way to remove paint. A stripper like Jasco is sprayed or brushed onto the painted surface and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Scrape as much paint off as possible and repeat until you get down to the wood. After the paint is removed a cleaner such as TSP is used to clean the area. It is important to do this project in a well ventilated area because strong paint stripping chemicals are very harmful to breathe in. The chemicals also evaporate very quickly so close attention must be paid to the process or it will take forever.
Here is what you’ll need for the removal of old paint by heat:
- Heat gun
Using an intense heat to remove old paint is much faster than stripping and does not make a huge mess. A good heat gun will loosen the paint and is scraped off immediately before it cools again. Usually this process is done with a heat gun in one hand and a scraper in the other. It would be good to practice a little before starting a large project because it is fairly easy to burn the wood.
When using a scraper with stripping or heating, make sure not to gouge the wood underneath. Soft woods like pine are very easy to scrape so use care or go for a plastic scraper.
Once the old paint is gone, a stain can be applied to change the color of the wood without affecting the grain of the wood. It is a good idea to apply a polyurethane after the stain has dried, which is a clear hard coating that will protect the wood from spills and damage.