How to Use Paint Stripper

You don't have to tackle that paint removal project armed with just a sheet of sandpaper.

Here's how to let paint stripper work for you.

Decide which type of stripper you want to use: Liquid stripper will run on vertical surfaces; paste stripper needs to be kept moist; gel stripper costs a little bit more. (See Related eHows.)

Put down a thick layer of newspaper in a well-ventilated work area.

Apply stripper with a clean rag or follow the manufacturer's directions for application.

Put a liberal coat on the workpiece, making sure to get it into corners, cracks and crevices.

Check liquid and gel stripper progress after 10 to 15 minutes by scraping a small area with a paint scraper. If the paint is softened all the way down to bare wood, the stripper is done. If not, put more stripper on the scraped area and wait 5 more minutes.

Let paste stripper sit for a few hours (follow manufacturer's recommendation) after covering it with a sheet of plastic to keep it moist. Use a paint scraper to remove the loosened paint once the stripper has done its job.

Rub paint out of crevices and deep ornamentation with steel wool.

Clean off leftovers - rubbing with the grain - with a ball of steel wool dipped in stripper.

Rinse the workpiece with water or turpentine (read the stripper label).

Let the workpiece dry completely before you prime and finish.

Things You Will Need

  • Timers
  • Clean Rags
  • Paint Strippers
  • Plastic Sheets
  • Steel Wool
  • Turpentine
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Old Newspapers
  • Paint Scrapers
  • Safety Goggles


  • Use squares of burlap on oak because steel wool tends to stain the wood.


  • Chemical strippers are potentially dangerous. Wear protective goggles and rubber gloves while working with them.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area, and never smoke near stripping chemicals.
  • Keep pets and kids away from your work area.