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How To Strip Paint Off Of Original Woodwork.

Updated: Apr 27

Our staircase that was covered in layers and layers of paint went through the process of wood stripping.

We love sharing our reno and #DIY project stories. And we love hearing from people that are inspired to take on project of their own. By far the topic that we get the most emails about is the process of our paint stripping. So many people out there have beautiful historical homes with woodwork that is buried under decades of paint. It’s a tough and messy job and people have asked how our paint stripping specialist got it done so well! Our woodwork - bannister, window casings, door casings, and shutters all look amazing now that they are seeing the light of day from under all of that paint. 

Paint after the chemical has been applied. It's a big mess but definitely worth it.

Before we dive in we need to start with a word of caution. There are dangerous chemicals involved not to mention the possibility of lead paint. The process she follows may not be for everyone, but it certainly does the job. If you do strip wood please only handle with most care. We recommend a professional if a lot of wood is to be stripped and it is probably a good idea to do it when no one is living in the house. 

After the alcohol has been applied you will notice a drastic transformation.

We were so so lucky to find Maria, our wood stripper, who has been stripping wood for over 30+ years and has handled every sort of wood, issue, and chemical in the industry. We recently caught up with her at a new job she’s working on to get a better handle of the process. 

Here we go!

Items necessary for paint stripping: left- chemical, center top- denatured alcohol, top right- steel wool, bottom left- respirator, bottom center- heat gun, bottom right- tools

Items necessary:

- Gloves (lots and lots of gloves). We recommend latex under cloth gloves - Respirator. You want a good one that will cover the entire mouth. Chemicals will be used and who knows the history of your paint. - Heat Gun- a durable one - Steal Wool - Tarp/Plastic - Cheese Cloth- full box or large sponge- your preference - Wire Brush - Other tools used to scrape, scrub and clean - Chemicals recommended: US Government Stripper, Zip Strip, Jasco, Rock Miracle

- Denatured Alcohol

After the chemical sits for 15 minutes you will notice different texture on the wood. Don't be afraid!


1. Heat Gun the wood you will strip- this will help the paint warm up and remove some layers 2. Remove any paint that has been removed with heat gun 3. Apply Chemical- use a spray bottle-  Let chemical sit 10-15 MINUTES 4. Clean remnants with cheese cloth or a large sponge- After the heat gun, the paint will hopefully come off in layers. Cheese cloth is a good material to swipe the chemical off. It will fall on the tarp that should be well taped to the area you are working in. 5. Use wire brush or steel wool to get areas that are more delicate and hard to get in large quantities.

6. Wipe wood down with something like Denatured Alcohol and continue to clean with steel wool.

Brushing on the chemical to remove the paint.

Layers of paint melting off as the chemical does its job.

This process removed every speck of paint from our woodwork, even in detailed places with lots of crevices. We’re sure that there are other tools used, maybe even some that are safer. If something worked well for you let us know!

Maria and a before (top) and after (bottom) in one shot!

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