Best Options For Removing Varnish and Paint From Wood

Posted by Sandpaper America on Jul 20th 2022

Best Options For Removing Varnish and Paint From Wood

Whether you wish to repaint an already-painted wall, window, deck, fence, or piece of furniture, you must first remove any existing coats of varnish or paint to achieve a spotless finish. This is the number one rule for repainting! If you are not using effective methods of paint removal, not only will your project take a considerable amount of time, but it may also not work at all.

Continue reading to learn some of the most effective methods for removing paint and varnish.

Varnish and Paint Removal Methods

Chemical Paint Removers

One of the most common methods for removing old paint is chemical strippers and solvent removers. These come in several forms and should be selected according to personal preference. This means choosing whichever application process or product you are most comfortable with using. Aerosol sprays spray-on as a foam and are by-far the easiest and least expensive option. And regular paint remover sprays are similar, and best for smaller objects and projects.

If you are undertaking a larger project, you might be better off using a thicker chemical paint remover. For example, you can choose a gel or paste-like, brush-on chemical paint remover. This is also best for ceilings and walls to prevent dripping. For removing only a few layers of paint or when working around irregular areas, use a liquid remover because they dry quickly. Although a bit pricier, there are non-toxic, chemical-free solvents available on the market for those who prefer an Eco-friendly approach.

Electric Paint Removers

Electric paint removers are sold on the market and come in a variety of styles and models. They contain a heating plate, or heating element, that heats paint up until it bubbles and peels, allowing for easier removal. But do not think this is the only step to using an electric paint removal tool! What follows is manual scraping. The heat tool simply breaks the old paint and varnish up so that it can be easily removed with a scraping tool. Electric paint remover tools can cost anywhere from $30 to upwards of $100 or more, depending on the retailer, brand, and features.


On the subject of using electric paint remover tools, scraping is just one other common method for such a job. Although it is manual labor, it is one of the most basic and oldest methods of removing paint and varnish. This is the recommended method for fragile pieces like antique furniture and other delicate objects. To scrape away old paint coats, use a paint scraper tool or a putty knife. If there is an abundance of chipped paint that needs scraped, it is suggested to use a high-pressure water hose to remove the majority of loose paint, and then proceed with manual scraping. To make scraping easier, incorporate a chemical solvent as well.


For smaller objects or individual pieces, dipping is an effective method for paint removal. Dipping is just that: submersing an object into a liquid caustic solution until the paint begins to slip off. This is generally a method used by professionals since they retain access to the proper tools, supplies, and products.


Another highly-reliable, manual approach to paint removal is sanding. Using abrasives to remove paint is effective because the grit material of the sandpaper slowly and evenly works away at the old coat. You can use sandpaper sheets or a sanding machine, depending on the object or surface area. If using a sanding machine, choose an electrical orbital disc sander.

Are you looking for quality sandpaper abrasives you can afford? Call Sandpaper America at 1-800-860-SAND to buy quality abrasives like belts, wolf heads, sanding sheets, rolls, and more. We offer the most competitive prices for abrasives and convenient online ordering across the nation!

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