Removing Paint From Rough Sawn Wood

Wood is a popular choice of material for outdoor landscape pieces such as decks and fences because of its natural beauty.

Rough sawn wood maintains its natural texture and appearance.Rough sawn wood maintains its natural texture and appearance.
However, over-treated wood can begin to look unnatural, as if it was produced in a factory rather than cut from nature. Those looking for a more traditional wood appearance may turn to rough sawn wood, which retains the rough texture, grain and appearance of wood in the wild. Rough wood does not often adapt to paint very well, because of the surface texture; if you have attempted to paint rough wood and are ready to start over, begin by removing the paint.

Peel away any loosened or peeling paint with your fingers. Use a plastic or metal scraper, or a stiff bristle brush, to pry up loose paint ends for easier peeling. Remove as much paint as possible this way.

Mix a mild cleaning solution of warm water and dish detergent until it forms suds. Soak the bristles of your stiff brush in the solution and scrub onto the wood. The water, soap and scrubbing combined will remove a lot of paint.

Rinse the surface with clean water and inspect your work. Repeat application of the soap and water if it is helping; if not, continue for other possible methods.

Mix a stronger cleaning solution of 2 cups of trisodium phosphate cleaner per 1 gallon of water. Scrub with this solution and the scrub brush for a stronger clean; rinse the surface well when complete to remove residual suds.

Spot-treat remaining painted areas with paint stripper or lacquer thinner. Use a small paintbrush to apply the chemical to areas only as needed, so that the chemicals do not soak into the wood. Allow the chemical to work on the surface for 5 minutes (unless otherwise noted by the product instructions). Scrape or scrub away loosened paint.

Rinse the wood with clean warm water to remove residual chemicals. Allow the wood to dry completely before attempting any additional painting or staining.

Things You Will Need

  • Scraper Stiff bristle brush Water Dish detergent 2 cups Trisodium phosphate Paint stripper Paintbrush


  • If you are experienced with the use of a pressure washer, this cleaning method can help to remove paint. However, do not pressure wash unless you are sure it is safe for your surface and you are confident with your ability to use the machine; pressure washers can cause serious damage if handled incorrectly. Rough sawn wood tends to accept staining better than painting.

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.