Have you been wondering how to remove paint from wood without sanding? Removing paint from old wooden items like dressers or doors can give them a whole new, better look.

There are many ways to remove paint from wood, but since you don’t want to sand the paint, we will introduce you to some other ways to safely do this. It can be a fun DIY activity to do on the weekend after hours of hard work.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into today’s article!

How to Remove Paint from Wood without Sanding

As you may know, sanding can be applied if you plan to paint over the wood surface afterward. The purpose of sanding is not to remove every last spot of paint but to get the surface clean so that the new paint will stick to that piece.

On the other hand, if you expect the final look of your wood piece to look shiny and beautiful, you might want to try other methods. Check them out!

Chemical Stripper

Chemical StripperThis is the best way to take off paint from wood.

Chemical strippers come in liquid, gel, and paste. If your project is on a vertical wall, gel or paste strippers are recommended for a better result. Regardless of what kind you choose, make sure to do some thorough reading before starting your project.

Read more: The Best Paint Stripper For Wood

Heat Gun

Heat GunThis is the most dangerous yet easiest way to remove paint from wood.

You will need to find the right temperature; too low, and the work takes forever, too high, and your wall (or whatever object you’re working on) will be scorched.

Prepare a pair of heat resistant gloves as well as goggles and a face mask to protect yourself from unexpected accidents. We suggest you keep the gun perpendicular about 6-8 inches with the wooden surface to achieve the best outcome.

Once the paint has softened up, scrape it off before it gets all messy on the surface; you might need a can to put the old paint in. Keep in mind that a heat gun doesn’t work as good as a liquid or gel stripper in removing the paint completely, so you will need steel wool or some rags to get rid of the remaining stains.


ScraperYou can use the scraping method when the paint is thick.

The scraper tends to be blunt after some time of scraping, so you need to make sure it’s always sharp for the best result. Sharpen it by scraping the scraper across a metal piece in a way where its tip gets sharper; do the same for the other side.

Start scraping slowly and steadily in a straight position to minimize unexpected scenarios. Scraping works great on vertical surfaces or polished wood.

Tip: Treat your wood with vinegar or water to help make the paint come off easier.

Pressure Washer

Pressure WasherA pressure washer is suitable for big projects like the walls outside your house or your fences. Prepare the area carefully to make sure water can’t get into your house through doors or windows.

Connect your pressure washer to a power outlet then turn on the compressor; medium setting would be a good start. Make sure to have your goggles and protective gloves to avoid accidents.

Keep the nozzle 10-12 inches from the surface you’ll be working on. Grip on the handle firmly and pull the trigger to start. Move the nozzle along with the grain of the wood. Work in rows then overlaps to ensure all the paint is removed.

If there are hard-to-remove spots, increase the pressure to a suitable level. Too much pressure can cause damage, especially to old wood; and if there is still remaining paint, you can remove it using rags or any of the methods mentioned above.

Tip: Your pressure washer should have a PSI rating of 2500 or above to ensure the best result.

Infrared Devices

Infrared DevicesLike heat guns, infrared devices use heat from infrared rays to remove paint from wood without leaving any dust.

They use just enough heat to break the bond between paint and wood, yet cause no damage to the wood surface you’re working on. However, since infrared devices are quite bulky, it’s hard to use them in tight spaces. Other than that, infrared devices are recommended as they’re safe and easy to use.

They get the work done quickly at a temperature of below 500℉, so you don’t have to worry about your wood igniting. What I like best about this method is the infrared rays draw moisture from the wood, helping the new paint stick better and longer.

Steam Stripper

Steam StripperSteam strippers use heat from vaporized water to soften the paint, with the temperature falling around 212℉ or less. This minimizes the risk of scorching the wood surface as well as getting the dust and fumes in the air.

Nevertheless, the heat from steam strippers can warp the surface, which prolongs the work, and sometimes, even ruin the furniture. Of course, it also depends on other factors like the type of wood and surface you’re working on.

What is more, using steam strippers can create a lot of moisture, resulting in wood being saturated. That is why we don’t recommend this method.

Other Methods

Other MethodsAs I mentioned above, there are many ways to remove paint from wood without sanding. I’ve listed some of the most commonly used ones, and if you want to be environmental-friendly, we have a few methods below. Check them out.

Soy gel paint removers: They are like chemical strippers, but since the ingredients are all-natural, it takes longer for them to do the work. The good news is, they’re non-toxic.

Once you’ve put this gel on the surface, just leave it on for a while for it to absorb and spread throughout the paint. Sometimes, it even works better than other chemical strippers out there.

Citrus based paint removers: Personally, I prefer these to soy gel paint removers. There are two main kinds: chemical and natural. No matter what you choose, the ability to the remove paint of citrus-based paint removers is significantly better its their counterpart.

Apply a sufficient amount of the gel directly to the surface and let it sit for a short time. After it has penetrated the paint, carefully remove it with old cloths; a scraper would work too.

This remover works best on furniture details and flat surfaces since its texture is quite thin.

Tips and Tricks

Tips and TricksKnowing some tips and tricks would make things a lot easier and quicker. Check out these tips and tricks below to see if you can apply any of them to make the process of removing paint from wood more straightforward.

  • You should choose plastic scrapers over metal ones if you want to use push scrapers. This helps avoid gouging, especially if you’re going to use chemical strippers.
  • Always have protective clothes on such as goggles, gloves, a face mask, etc. It’s also better to wear old clothes since the paint will be likely to get everywhere.
  • Since lead paint is illegal, you may want to check if the object you’ll be working on contains lead.
  • If you don’t have that much time, it is better if you do this yourself by using a lead check swab. You can also get a lab test, or call a professional over; whatever that’s most convenient for you.
  • After finishing removing the paint, we move to cleaning what’s left. Carefully use some water to mist the dirt and debris, then wipe off the surface briefly with some old cloths; wrap the dirty side inward after you’re done.
  • If you suffer from asthma or any allergies, being extra careful is needed. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to hoover the entire work area.
  • Chemical paint strippers should only be used outdoor as they create some toxic fumes.
  • Protect nearby surfaces by covering them with newspapers or sheets. If you’re working with heat, use aluminum foil instead.

Read more: How to Safely Remove Paint

Bottom Line

I hope my article did give you some helpful information on how to remove paint from wood without sanding. After you’re done removing paint, you can get creative with your like-new wood by painting it with a new color, or polish it; up to you.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and I will answer them as soon as possible. Thank you for reading.