Design and Decor

The 7 Best Paint Remover For Wood Furniture (How To Remove Paint)

This guide is about the best paint remover that you can use to strip paint from wood furniture.

Painting surfaces, whether wood, masonry, metals, flat surfaces, vertical surfaces and so on, are the easiest part of the process. However, the prep work needed is necessary and most of the time is a daunting task especially if the surface that you are going to work with has been painted many times and that includes the wooden surface of your furniture.

Your old furniture will most likely be prone to paint chippings, blistering and cracking. To avoid this from happening, you need to remove all of the old finishes from your wood furniture before you can even start your painting diy projects.

There are three ways to remove them from your piece of wood furniture, you could do this manually by hand using grit sandpaper, but this method is not applicable for surfaces painted with lead-based paint, by using a heat gun or by the use of a paint stripper. Although the first two methods are obviously the safer alternatives, the third one will make your prep work a lot easier and faster. If you are leaning using the easier alternative, below are the things that you need to know before you purchase one.

What Is The Best Paint Remover For Wood Furniture?

The great remover has the ability to remove multiple layers of paint or varnish to prep your old wood furniture for painting without foul odor. It will also not use toxic chemicals or any other form of harmful chemicals. Below are the list of the best chemical paint strippers for your old piece of furniture that do not contain harsh chemicals such as mehylene chloride or NMP:

best paint remover for wood furniture

Citri-strip Paint QCSG801 & Varnish Stripping Gel – A stripper under the biochemical type which can remove latex and oil-based paint, lacquer, varnish, shellac and polyurethane. It’s safe to use for metal, masonry and wood surfaces and will stay wet on the level surface for up to 24 hours allowing multiple layers of paint to be stripped off. This product has the most reviews and considered by many as one of the great products for wood furniture and other surfaces.

  • Cons- less effective on older coatings and paints.


Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover – This type is under the zero VOC type because it does not contain methylene chloride and NMP. It has the capability to remove even lead-based paint. It works well as a varnish remover and urethane remover from masonry, metal, stone, fiberglass, tile, decking and wood surfaces.

  • Cons – does not cling to vertical surfaces.

Sunnyside 65732A Multi-Strip ADVANCED – This is under the Low VOC type because it also does not contain NMP, lye and methylene chloride. Clings to vertical surfaces and has a waiting time of only 30 minutes. It has the capability to remove paints, varnishes, stains, lacquers and urethanes. This can be applied through the use of a brush, roller or putty knife.

  • Cons – it requires a thick application of the solution to be effective

Sunnyside Corporation 65664 Hi-Speed Ready-Strip  – This type is under the biochemical type which removes most paints, varnishes, latex, lacquers, stains, enamels and polyurethane. It’s safe to use on wood, masonry, metal, brick and concrete. It can be applied through the use of a spray, brush or roller.

  • Cons – it requires a thin layer of application which often means it is less effective.

Safe ‘n Easy Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover Gel – This is under the Zero Low VOC category which does not produce harmful fumes or foul odors. This stripper works well with surfaces such as wood, masonry, tiles, fiberglass, porcelain, brick stone, plaster, bathtubs, molding and glass surfaces painted with latex and oil-based finishes and varnishes.

  • Cons – Temperature affects effectiveness.

best paint remover for wood furniture

D Super Remover – This product is under the biochemical type which requires the use of a super remover stripping pad and a small amount of stripper to lift off the entire coating of wood surfaces while following the wood grain. It is recommended to use denatured alcohol to clean the entire stripped surface thoroughly. It has the capability to remove multiple layers of most finishes, varnish, epoxy, shellac and polyurethane. It’s safe to use for wood, metal and concrete surfaces and it clings to vertical surfaces as well because of its gel formula.

  • Cons – may require multiple applications to make it effective.

best paint remover for wood furniture

PEEL AWAY  – This product is under the Zero VOC category which works well with wood, brick, concrete, stone, plaster and metal surfaces.

  • Cons – It can darken hardwoods.

What You Need To Know When Looking the Best Paint Remover For Wood Furniture

It is important to educate yourself on any stripper’s key features such as the type, materials that are compatible with and all special safety precautions.

What are the different types of paint strippers and the type of materials they work well with?

Paint strippers, just like the varnish, paints and lacquers, can emit volatile organic compounds, VOC,  that may cause throat, eye and nose irritation and may cause you great harm especially if you work indoors and  has poor ventilation. High VOCs content usually means that particular stripper uses a toxic chemicals in their formulation. Look for chemical strippers that has low VOCs or does not contain methylene chloride especially if you are working indoors. Below are the different type of strippers:

Caustic – Caustic strippers are alkaline strippers with a high pH level which has an active ingredient of lye (sodium hydroxide). It can partially transform dried old paint into soapy texture, allowing the paint to detach from the surface-level. Once the removal takes place, the entire stripped surface should be neutralized by wiping the surface down with a water and vinegar mixture.

  • Works well with masonry surfaces like concrete floors and brick fireplaces that are painted with oil-based paint.
  • Can also be a good stripper for some metals and wood surfaces painted with water and oil-based finishes. However, caustic remover can cause damage to aluminum and it can darken maple wood.
  • Safety – Although they are safer than solvent strippers because they contain less VOCs, caustic remover can still cause irritation for your eyes, skin and lungs. So always protect yourself by wearing a respirator, safety goggles, skin-covering such as clothing, and chemical-resistant gloves.

Solvent – This type of  stripper uses toxic chemicals to loosen the bond between the layers of paint and the surface. Some of these types of strippers contain methylene chloride which means they have high VOCs content. The higher the VOCs content the smokier fumes can pose a greater health risk than other strippers. However, it is one of the most multi-purpose strippers.

  • These types of strippers removes paint, epoxy and polyurethane effectively without discoloring masonry, metal and wood surfaces.
  • Safety – Wear protective gear such as a respirator, safety goggles, skin protective barriers like  clothing and butyl gloves (chemical resistant gloves) because inhaling a solvent stripper’s harsh fumes can damage the brain or reproductive system.

Biochemical – This type is a safer option to solvent and caustic remover because they are made with terpenes and N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). These are considered less volatile organic compounds, but can be still be harmful to the respiratory and reproductive systems.

  • These removers remove masonry, wood and metal surfaces painted with water or oil-based finsihes.
  • Safety – This stripper is safer than caustic removers  and is definitely safer than solvents. Handling them requires a respirator, chemical-resistant gloves, and skin protective barrier, clothing.

Zero/Low-VOC – This is a type of stripper that does not contain methylene chloride, lye, or NMP and most importantly is less expensive than other types of strippers. It contains natural solvents like benzyl alcohol and most likely an odorless product.

  • These strippers can loosen the masonry, metal and wood surfaces painted with either water-based or oil-based finishes. However, they are more likely less effective for removing polyurethane and epoxy.
  • Safety – Although this type is the safest among all the other types of strippers, direct exposure to fumes can cause skin, eye and lung irritation. Safety gloves and goggles are highly advisable.

Important Reminder: For homes built before 1978, should be tested for lead paint using a lead test kit. It’s better to hire a professional if the old paint is positive for lead.

How To Know If Your Wood Furniture Is Painted With Oil or Water-based Paint?

Rub a white cloth with rubbing alcohol on the wall. When the paint doesn’t remove color, it’s oil-based. If it softens and transfers to the cloth, it’s water-based.

Things You Need To Do Prior To Paint Removal

  • If possible, utilize the outdoors to remove the paint of your wood furniture to take advantage of good air ventilation.
  • If you need to strip the paint indoors, open the opposite windows of the room and place a fan behind you as you work to get good air circulation. Cover your entire floor and any furniture around with a chemical-resistant tarp.
  • Use a scraper or dulled drywall knife to remove loose paint.

How To Apply Different Type Of Paint Strippers

  1. Use a disposable paint brush to apply strippers in the recommended thickness. Short and single movement brush strokes are recommended but for wood surfaces, follow the direction of the wood grain for better results. Push the product into intricate carvings. Dollop it on generously, then rub it in.
  2. For a stripper that recommends the use of laminate paper squares, utilize them by adhering the laminate paper to the wet stripper right after the application of the stripper. The laminate paper will help to extend the dwell time of the stripper products.
  3. Wait! Let the product sit on the level surface based on the recommended time frame. Always read and follow the product’s instructions regarding its application. Below are the general application guidelines for each type of  stripper:
    • Caustic – Apply the solution for about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness and let it sit on the level surface for 30 minutes or more. After this time, you will notice that paint is starting to lift off and use a scraper to remove the old paint with ease.
    • Solvent – Apply a thin layer of solution to the painted surface and let it sit on the level surface for about 15 minutes or less. After that, use a scraper to lift off the old paint easily. Then wash entire stripped surface with mineral spirits or water before repainting. Neutralization is not needed.
    • Zero/Low VOC and Biochemical – Apply the solution about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness and let it sit for about 3 up to 24 hours. After that, use a paint scraper to ease the removal of the old paint from the surface-level. Then wash with mineral spirits or water the entire stripped surface before repainting. Neutralization is not needed.
  4. Once the old paint partially detaches from the surface-level or has softened, use a scraper (either plastic or metal scraper) or a dulled drywall knife to scrape the loose paint. You can also use fine steel wool or a wire brush to get rid of stubborn varnish or paint. When using a metal scraper, use it with care to avoid scratching or gouging the wood during the paint or varnish removal process.
  5. Next, sweep the paint waste into a plastic bag together with the scraper. Then dispose of the waste accordingly. To find a local hazardous site, enter your zip code or address in RCRAInfo.
  6. However, re-application of a stripper may be needed if there is still paint remaining. Repeat the whole process until all the paint is gone. Wash the entire stripped item to neutralize the chemicals, if instructed.
    • For a stripper that requires the use of a neutralizing agent, use the prescribed solution on the label package. After that, the stripped furniture’s surface pH level should be tested usingpH paper, the entire stripped surface should have a pH level of 7.
    • For paint removers that do not require the use of a neutralizing agent, wash the entire stripped surface with a recommended cleaner on the label packaging which is usually using mineral spirits or water.
  7. Let the surface completely dry and to speed up the drying process, utilize portable fans in the room. After the drying time is completed, you will see the beautiful bare wood once again and your beautiful wood furniture is now ready for painting.

Other Methods To Remove Paint From Wood Without Using A Chemical Liquid Paint Remover

  • Sanding by hand is designed to accomplish small projects. However, the use of sand paper to remove the paint may create gouges or may damage wood if you fail to sand the entire piece in an even motion. You can hire a professional sander if the project involves a big surface like your floor. The use of power tools helps to apply even pressure that protects your wooden floor from any damage.
  • A heat gun or electric hot air gun can also be used to remove paint but it needs careful application of the heat to keep the wood from scorching. However, heat guns are only effective when removing paint and not when removing varnish.

I hope that my guide on the 7 best paint remover for wood furniture helps you to start your new painting project.

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