How to Remove Chalk Paint From Wood (Guide & Safety Precautions)

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Different kinds of paint have different applications and corresponding effects. Chalk paint is fun to apply, but it’s fairly difficult to remove, especially if you don’t have the right tools and skills. 

Therefore, learning how to remove chalk paint from wood properly is advantageous especially when you have applied it in excess. In this guide, our paint experts will detail the steps and process. 

Why is Chalk Paint Used on Wood?

Furniture, and even wood floors, applied with chalk paint have a vintage look and feel. In addition, paint coatings applied to furniture can also lead to a distressed look. 

However, make sure that the wood’s surface is free from dust prior to the application of this specific paint for a smooth finish. Also, opt for a high-quality brush suitable for chalk paint for an even coat. Here are some advantages of using chalk paint:

chalk paint
  1. This paint can dry up fast
  2. Applying chalk paint is easy to handle
  3. Once applied, this paint will leave the surface with a matte and vintage finish
  4. You can seal chalk paint with several thin layers of top coats 

Can You Get Rid of Chalk Paint Easily?

There are different methods to help you get rid of paint, which are as follows:

With Heat

Heat can be used to remove paint from surfaces. 

With the Use of Chemical Products

You can remove paint with the use of chemical products such as paint strippers. 

Mechanically or Use of Power Tools

You can remove paint mechanically or with the help of fine grit sandpaper and power tools.

various types of sandpaper

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Mechanical Method

The mechanical method of removing old paint is done faster especially with an orbital sander. You can get the work done with less labor and less time. 

However, it is not recommended to use the mechanical method on soft woods and delicate furniture. It can leave behind scratch marks and ruin the wood. 

SpatulaTorch burnerRubbing alcohol
ChiselSpecial construction hair dryerSolvents
SandpaperSteam ironPaint thinner
Hard metal brush  
Grinder with nozzles  

Methods of Removing Chalk Paint from Wood

Learning the ways to remove chalk paint from wood is not rocket science. Here are the methods and their corresponding steps for removing this paint from wood.  

Method #1: Paint Stripper

You can use a paint stripper to remove the chalk paint from wood such as kitchen cabinets, wood paneling, and hardwood floors. 

preparing Citristrip Stripping Gel

Safety Precautions

  1. Choose an environment-friendly paint stripper or paint remover with a biodegradable formula.
  2. Gather and wear protective gear before starting the process. Strippers are formulated to contain chemicals.
  3. Work in a well-spaced and aerated area
  4. Protect surfaces by covering them with plastic sheeting. 

Supplies You’ll Need

Here are the tools and supplies you’ll need to remove chalk paints from wood:

  1. Paintbrush
  2. Paint stripper/paint remover
  3. Plastic or metal putty knife
  4. Plastic scraper
  5. Steel wool scrubber pad
  6. Fine grit sandpaper (100 or 120)
  7. Plastic sheet
  8. Face mask
  9. Gloves
  10. Bucket
  11. Soap mixture
  12. Dry lint-free cloth

Step #1: Gather All the Required Tools/Equipment

Gather all the required tools and equipment. Make sure to wear protective equipment before starting the process of chalk paint removal. 

tools and materials for removing paint on wood

Choose a well-ventilated area to work at and line the floor with a plastic sheet to avoid mess. 

Step #2: Remove the Old Paint

Remove the majority of the paint by using fine-grain sandpaper [1]. Make sure to sand gently in circular motions. 

Step #3: Begin Applying the Paint Stripper

Apply a generous coat of your preferred paint stripper or paint remover on the piece of wood you are working on. We suggest you use a high-quality paint stripper for wood for better results.

You can apply the paint stripper using a paintbrush. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended waiting time.

Generally, it is good to allow the paint stripper on the painted surface for approximately 30 to 60 minutes.  

Step #4: Clear Out the Paint Using a Paint Scraper of Putty Knife

By this time the chalk paint from wood may have creased and fluffy on the wood surface. You can now clear out the paint using a paint scraper or a plastic putty knife. Make sure to apply enough pressure to remove the majority of the paint on the surface. 

paint stripping

Step #5: Wipe Off the Excess Chalk Paint

Using your scrubber pad and a little bit of soap and water mixture, scrub off the excess remaining chalk paint residue. It is alright if you cannot remove all of the chalkboard paint from the surface. 

Proceed to remove chalk paint scrap using a scrubber pad and steel wool together with some soapy water. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth and repeat the steps if necessary. 

Step #6: Sand for a Clean Finish

Allow the furniture to completely dry for approximately 12 to 24 hours. Sand the surface using fine-grade sandpaper to smoothen out the paint marks as a result of scrubbing. Make sure to check that there is no chalk paint on the surface.

sanding table after removing paint

Wipe the surface with a damp cloth. You can now proceed to apply your preferred finish such as Danish oil. 

Pros and Cons of Using Paint Strippers

Using strippers to remove chalk paint is easy and does not damage the wood. However, it emits toxic fumes and thus you should wear the appropriate safety gear. 

Method #2: Sanding

Another method to removing chalk paint is by sanding, one of the natural methods to remove chalk paint especially if you have the luxury of time. 

Things to Consider in Removing Chalk Paint by Sanding

Here are a few considerations when using this method to remove chalk paint through sanding:

belt sander
  1. Always wear protective equipment and clothing
  2. Make sure to seal off all the vents from other items you do not now want to be covered with saw dust. 
  3. Work in a well-spaced and aerated area
  4. Replace the coarse grit sandpaper to get a fresh one every time you use it to remove chalk paint. 


  1. Face mask
  2. Gloves
  3. Turpentine or odorless mineral spirits
  4. Sandpaper with different grit levels
  5. Power sander
  6. Vacuum cleaner
  7. Clean paper towels

Removal Instructions

Here’s a detailed guide to remove chalk paint from wooden surfaces. 

dresser with chalk paint
Step #1:

Collect all of your tools and do not forget to wear protective garment. Also, make sure that you are working in a well-spaced and aerated area. Make sure to remove any items that are found on the floor that can stand in your way. 

Step #2:

Place some turpentine in a container. Get a clean cloth and dip it in turpentine. Using this cloth rub it on the surface with chalk paint. Make sure to remove the paste wax from the wood surface before you begin sanding using coarse sandpaper. 

Make sure to get rid of as much old paint as you can then allow the wood surface to air dry. 

Step #3:

Using an electric sander set up with coarse grit sandpaper proceed to sand along the grain of the wood. Make sure to remove as much of the remaining paint as you can. 

DeWalt orbital sander

Vacuum any loose dust residue that is left from the process. 

Step #4:

Replace the sandpaper with a new one once it gets clogged up with paint. Once the sandpaper has been replaced you can continue to eliminate paint from the wooden surface. 

Step #5:

Replace the sandpaper from coarse grit sandpaper with a finer grade one. Use finer grade sandpaper when the thicker layers of paint are thinner and you can now see the wood underneath. 

Use fine-grade paper to remove most of the paint from the wood. Sand off as many of the paint as you can. 

Step #6:

Remove all the dust as a result of power sanding using a vacuum. Wipe the surface of the wood using a wet towel.

vacuuming sanded floor
Step #7:

A hand held sandpaper can scrape and remove any paint that has not been removed from hard to reach areas. You can also use soapy water together with wire gauze to remove the paint from these areas.

Step #8:

Proceed to wipe off the wood using a paper towel to reveal areas with more paint that needs attention. Repeat the steps until you have achieved the desired results. 

Step #9:

Use another finer-grade sandpaper to sand the entire surface of the wood. Make sure that you achieve an even and smooth surface. 

Step #10:

Clean the wood by wiping it with a damp towel to remove any debris. Let the wood to dry after. 

Step #11:

You can now apply your preferred finish on the surface. 

staining wooden shelf

Pros and Cons of Sanding Wood to Remove Chalk Paint

You can remove the paint easily, especially with the use of an electric sander. However, it can leave behind grooves on the surface if you are not careful. But as an alternative to the traditional sandpapers and electric sanders, you may also consider using a liquid sandpaper

Method #3: Elbow Grease and Paint Solvent

Another method that uses labor to eliminate paint is the use of some solvent and elbow grease. This kind of paint is water soluble so you can also use warm water for this method. 

Materials You’ll Need

  1. Warm water
  2. Scrubbing sponge
  3. Steel wool
  4. Remover solvent
  5. Danish oil
  6. Mineral spirits
  7. Clean paper towels

Removal Instructions

Here are the step-by-step removal instructions for paint from wood surfaces. 

elbow grease
Step #1:

Moisten the paint with some warm water. Soak the wood surface with water to loosen the paint. 

Step #2:

Scrub the surface using a scrubbing sponge. It is recommended to work at sections at a time. Make sure to consistently moisten the sponge to allow the paint to loosen. 

Step #3:

Clean the area with a damp cloth to reveal paint that needs attention.

Step #4:
Using mineral spirits wipe it onto the surface using steel wool. This can help remove other paint that has not 
Step #5:

Remove the excess paint on the surface using a damp cloth.

person holding cloth
Step #6:

Wait until the surface has dried completely. 

Step #7:

Sand the surface using fine grade sandpaper to achieve an even and smooth finish. 

Step #8:

Clean the surface using a damp rag and allow the surface to dry.

Step #9:

Apply three coats of your preferred finish on the surface. 

Method #4: Heat Gun

Using heat in this process is a logical option for eliminating paint from other surfaces and even on wood. Using heat will not lead to sand dust and also you are saved from inhaling fumes you normally get from a paint stripper. 

heat gun

Precautions: Dos and Don'ts

  1. Do not forget to wear protective gloves made from leather
  2. Wear goggles or a face cover to protect your face and eyes to avoid toxic dust
  3. Do not apply heat to the paint for a long period of time to avoid scorching the wood
  4. Have a fire extinguisher ready

Supplies You’ll Need

  1. Face shield or goggles
  2. Gloves
  3. Heat gun or hairdryer
  4. Fine sandpaper
  5. Mild liquid dish detergent
  6. Clean paper towels or cloth
  7. Metal puttyknife
  8. Lint-free cloth

Steps to Follow

Here are the step-by-step removal instructions of paint from wood surfaces.

painting cabinet with chalk paint
Step #1:

Hold the heat gun at a distance of approximately 10 inches away from the wood at a 45 degree angle. 

Step #2:

Once the paint begins to wrinkle, using a small putty knife scrape the painted surface. Do this along the wood grain. 

Step #3:

Repeat the process until you have removed the majority of the paint. 

Step #4:

Sand the surface to remove any paint left on it. Sanding can lead to a smooth and even finish.

sanding wood surface
Step #5:

Remove the paint residues using a clean and damp cloth. Let the wood dry completely. 

Step #6:

Apply your preferred finish.

Step #7:

Throw away any excess paint from the process and clean your workplace. 

Alternative Ways to Strip Chalk Paint From Wooden Surfaces

Here are some alternative ways how to remove chalk paint from wood


Apply Citristrip like the regular paint stripper. The good thing about this product is that it does not exude harsh odors. Here’s how to use Citristrip stripping gels

Citristrip Stripping Gel on wooden table


Nirtomors is a paint and varnish stripper. Thus, it can also be used to remove this specific paint off wood.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits can be used to eliminate paint from the wood. It is as strong and effective as strippers. 


You can also use warm vinegar to eliminate paint from the wooden surface. Use a scraper to peel off as much paint after. 

white vinegar

When Do You Need to Strip Chalk Paint Off the Wood?

  1. The furniture is in very poor condition
  2. Revitalize the cracked layers of the surface
  3. Removal of the color on the surface

Can You Strip Chalk Paint Off Wood Without Sanding?

You can strip the chalk paint from wood without sanding. You can use solvents, heat, and strippers. However, it’s essential to follow safety precautions and manufacturer’s instructions when using chemical strippers or heat guns. Always test a small area first and work in a well-ventilated space.

More Tips for You: 

Is it Possible to Get Rid of Chalk Paint Without Leaving Residues?

It is not possible to get rid of paint without leaving residues. In following any of the methods above, you will be left with some residue at the end of the process. 


How do you clean chalk paint off furniture?

You can clean this specific paint off furniture by sanding it off. This method can effectively eliminate paint from the surface. 

Can chalk paint be erased?

A magic eraser can be used to eliminate paint. This is a strong cleaning agent that can effectively eliminate paint from surfaces. 


Learning how to remove chalk paint from wood properly will help you salvage your furniture. Make sure to follow the aforementioned steps diligently to prevent accidents and mishaps from happening. 

As shown, removing paint from the wood surface is not rocket science. You will be surprised how stripping chalk paint from the surface can revitalize your pieces! 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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