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There are factors to consider before removing paint, this includes what type of surface, amount and type of paint to be removed. Different methods can be use to remove existing paint, using hand scrape, wire brush, chemical strippers, machine sanding and heat guns. Depending on types of paint you are going to remove, not all methods may work and there are types of surface materials that paint removal is difficult that requires a more extensive procedure. Before starting be sure to tape off and cover any areas like floor, wall edges, window or door linings and areas that doesn’t need repainting for protection. Remove any hanging decors, light furniture, appliances and counter displays near areas of work. Remember to use proper safety gears and working area must be ventilated if working inside. Extra care is needed in using tools that uses electricity.


In using manual wire brush slowly brush surfaces moving up and down where paint starts to fall off to expose areas for scraping. Use wire brush to smooth corners and edges that a hand scrape can’t reach. But on tough paint, use an electric drill with a wire brush attachment for a speedier work, but be careful in using power wire brush because they can easily burn surfaces if being held in one place for a long time.

Using hand scrape is difficult especially if tackling large surfaces but is suitable for small areas or areas where power tools cannot reach and is best together with heat gun. Scrape is good for removing visible flakes and paints that is already peeling, be sure not to use too force much force because it will damage the substrate and if you’re working on wood don’t scrape against the direction of the grain to prevent from damaging it.


After removing visible flakes and falling off paints, use heat gun by moving up and down until the paint softens and sizzles then start scraping off using the scraper. Put a little distance between the surface and the heat gun to prevent burning especially if the substrate is made of wood. For rough surfaces like concrete walls, heat gun is not advisable because paint will even stick more to the surface as soon as it harden, the better way to remove paint is using paint stripper. Varnish, shellac and polyurethane  are finishes that when heat gun is used they tend to melt and become more sticky that removing them becomes more difficult and using paint stripper is the only option. Here’s how to properly use a heat gun.


Be careful in using this product because most chemical strippers contain caustic chemicals that are very harmful to health. Extensive care is needed in handling paint strippers, wear rubber gloves, goggles, filter mask and must be properly ventilated if the area to be applied is inside the house. If you have respiratory problems there are paint strippers that are environmentally friendly and contain less caustic chemicals but these products are more expensive and take more time to soften the paint.

Apply evenly the paint stripper on a small section at a time with a brush to properly control the application, and wait for the paint to bubble and with a scraper or a putty knife remove the soften paint. Re-apply stripper if needed to further remove the paint. Scrape off remaining stripper and wipe the surface with a cloth damped with thinner and leave it to dry. Dispose properly used chemical stripper and scraped paints.


Sand paper works well on oil based paint while water based paint clogs the sand paper. For easy hand sanding use a wood block, cut the sand paper that fits the bottom of the wood block and use glue to keep it in place. In using sand paper start with a 40-60 coarse grit, move up and down to have a uniform surface, don’t put too much pressure because coarse grit sand paper can damage the underlying surface. Clean the surface after first sanding to see the result followed by 80-120 grit and clean afterward. For final sanding use 150-200 grit sand paper making your surface smooth and ready for repaint. Do not use very fine sand paper because paint won’t adhere on very smooth surfaces. Proper sanding technique is needed to get best results.  

If tackling large surfaces then machine sanding is needed, although you still need hand sanding the areas that machine sanders can’t reach. Use of these power tools will speed up the process of preparing the surfaces for painting. There are different sanding tools such as belt sander, orbital sander, disc sander and detail sander. Orbital sander is the most common tool used for final preparation. Do not use too much pressure and keep it moving to avoid circular pattern on the surface. Always wear proper safety equipment such as safety goggles, dust mask and ear muffs.


Water blasting is best in removing loose or peeling paints on exterior surfaces such as brick, stone,concrete and rough surfaces but should not be used on underlying wood surfaces, near windows, doors and wood board as water may enter into gaps that may cause of building up of moisture. Water blasting is not effective on surfaces with tough paint. Extreme caution is important in operating this equipment to avoid injuries.