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How to Remove Paint From Redwood Siding

Robert Howard

Paint is a long-lasting and effective coating that seals and protects your redwood siding from exposure to the elements. You may decide, though, that you prefer the natural look of redwood siding. Removing paint from redwood siding is a big job, and one that presents challenges.

But by using the right products, following a few steps and investing some time and elbow grease, you can remove paint from your redwood siding and bring it back to its beautiful, natural appearance.

  1. Mask off everything except the siding from which you intend to remove paint. Wood stripper is strong and can cause damage to your glass windows and metal fixtures. Use masking tape and sheet plastic to thoroughly mask off anything you don't want damaged by the wood stripper.

  2. Wet the siding down. Wood stripper remains effective as long as it's kept wet. Wetting the siding down before you apply the stripper will help keep it active.

  3. Apply the stripper. You can use a brush or a roller. Wood stripper is a viscous, gel-like material formulated to cling well to vertical surfaces. Apply a generous layer of wood stripper so it can stay wet and effective.

  4. Monitor the progress. The time it takes the stripper to lift the coating can vary depending on how much paint is there and how well the paint is holding up. You can leave the stripper on as long as need be; mist it lightly if it starts to dry out. Wood stripper can be effective quickly on some coatings, within 45 minutes. On other jobs, the product may need to remain on the wood for the better part of a day to erode the coatings.

  5. Be careful not to leave the stripper on longer than needed. Once the coating has been eroded, the stripper can damage the wood.

  6. Once the stripper has loosened the coatings, use a pressure washer to remove the loose material. Be careful not to damage the wood. Don't set the pressure washer higher than 1,000 psi, and use a 15- or 25-degree tip that sprays in a fan pattern. If you use too much pressure you run the risk of raising the wood's grain and giving it a furred look.

  7. If you don't have a pressure washer, use a nylon bristle brush to remove the loose material. A garden hose with a pressure nozzle can be used to rinse off the siding.

  8. Brighten the wood. Sometimes the process of stripping a coating from redwood will bring tannins to the wood's surface and darken the siding's appearance. If this happens, use wood brightener to neutralize the tannins and return the luster to your wood. Wood brightener is generally sold in concentrated form. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding dilution. Apply the brightener to wet wood and let it sit for 45 minutes. Rinse it off with a garden hose or give it a light pressure washing.

  9. Tip

    Once you have the coating stripped off your wood, it's advisable to coat the siding with a penetrating oil-based stain. This will reveal the natural beauty of your redwood siding, while also protecting it from moisture and the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. You may find there are areas where the stripper does not completely remove the coatings. Use a sander to remove those tough pockets of paint. If the grain rises during the stripping process, you can use a sander to knock it back down. It's a good idea to use wood brightener after sanding and prior to staining. This helps to open the wood pores back up so the stain can be absorbed properly.


    Wood stripper can burn skin. Wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and eye goggles when working with wood-stripping products.

    Paint made before 1978 can contain lead. Regulations regarding who can remove lead paint and disposal of heavy metals vary from one region to the next. Check with your local paint store regarding lead paint removal restrictions in your area.