How to Remove Paint From Stained Wood — Best Ways and Steps

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Removing paint from stained wood can be challenging and time-consuming. Fortunately, our paint experts have effective ways to strip paint from stained wood, including sanding, chemical stripping, and using heat.  

This guide will explore the best methods and steps on how to remove paint from stained wood, with some helpful tips to make the process as easy and efficient as possible. 

Removing Paint Splatters from Stained Wood

Method #1: Acetone

A typical solvent for removing paint is acetone. You can use it to clean up oil-based paint, lacquer, and varnish splatters.


Step 1: Use an acetone-soaked rag to remove oil-based paint from stained wood trim. Remove paint and acetone from the wood using a moist cloth.

Step 2: A paint scraper can remove dried paint drips (metal scraper).

Step 3: Pour acetone over the paint splatter and wait a minute. After that, clean the paint residue with an acetone-soaked cotton rag.

Step 4: Rinse with normal water and dry. We recommend air-drying it entirely for faster and better results. 

Method #2: Soap and Water

Using a solution of soap and hot water is your best option, whether the water-based latex paint is still wet or has dried on your varnished woodwork.

mixing soap and water

Step 1: Mix warm soapy water.

Step 2: Scrape wet paint with a soapy rag. Once the towel gets clogged, rinse it with soapy water and wipe until the stain is gone.

Step 3: Circularly remove the paint. Rinse the damp rag in soapy water whenever you like. Replenish paint-saturated water immediately.

Step 4: Remove all paint.

Step 5: Clean the wood in clean water and dry it with a cotton towel. Let the wood dry completely.

Removing Dried Water-Based Latex Paint Off Varnished Wood

Method #1: Denatured or Rubbing Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a powerful paint removal that does not emit any harmful byproducts and does not require the use of any of those annoying solvents. 

This paint remover works exceptionally well for stripping water-based paint, varnish, and lacquer from furniture without causing any damage to the wood beneath.

denatured alcohol

Step 1: Soak the rag in denatured alcohol.

Step 2: Remove all paints using the rag in a circular motion. Use a clean cloth and additional alcohol if needed.

Step 3: You can now scrape the softened paint. Remove any remnants with a moist cloth or clean rag.

Method #2: Paint Stripper

A paint remover containing chemicals is effective, particularly for reasonably significant deck areas.

pouring Citristrip Gel

Step 1: First, put on gloves and a mask. Work in a well-ventilated space or outside.

Step 2: Apply Citristrip to the painted area. Let it run for 30–60 minutes. If you’re unfamiliar with this material, here’s how to use CitriStrip stripping gel.

Step 3: Once the paint bubbles and becomes fluffy, use your putty knife to remove the various layers of paint off your varnished woodwork. Strip to the max.

Step 4: Use warm soapy water and a sponge or toothbrush to remove any remaining paint.

Step 5: Dry naturally.

Removing Oil-Based Paint on Stained Wood

Method #1: Paint Thinner

Those new to painting may need to know that paint thinner can also be used to strip paint. Paint thinner, like charcoal starters, are mineral spirits with a flash point of roughly 40 °C [1].

paint thinner

Step 1: Make sure the room you’re working in has plenty of ventilation and put on a mask.

Step 2: Apply turpentine generously to the paint and allow it to soak for approximately one minute.

Step 3: Soak a cloth or any clean rag in turpentine and scrape the paint off once it has softened. The turpentine and damp towel should be replaced as needed.

Step 4: Clean it with soapy, warm water and dry it with a clean towel. If more time is needed for drying, that’s fine.

Method #2: Mineral Spirits

This paint remover has been available since the late 1800s, and there’s a good reason for that. 

They’re highly effective at removing all types of paint from walls and ceilings without damaging the quality of the surfaces or leaving any residue behind.

Mineral spirits

Step 1: Apply mineral spirits as paint remover to the paint with a clean towel.

Step 2: Towel-scrub the softened dried paint.

Step 3: Remove the paint strippers with a moist towel. The solvent cannot remove woodwork stains. 

Step 4: Air-dry it. 

But, can you really use mineral spirits on wood? Find out next!

Method #3: Heat Machine

You can use heat to speed up the process of removing old paint, varnish, or other finishes. Very effective in removing several coats of paint simultaneously. 

The paint can be easily removed with a metal scraper after being softened by the heat gun and bubbling.

removing paint with heat gun

Step 1: First, put on gloves and a mask. Keep the room well-ventilated.

Step 2: Hold the heat gun or machine 10 inches above the paint at full power.

Step 3: Scrape the fresh paint off with your putty knife while heating. Use the putty knife gently to avoid gouging the wood.

Step 4: Scrape as much paint as possible. Nevertheless, the heat won’t remove all the paint, so use one of the procedures above to remove the rest. We suggest using a paint solvent or paint thinner.

Step 5: After stripping paint, you can now wash and clean it. Let the wood furniture air dry.

Method #4: Sanding

Although sanding might be tiring and dusty, it produces excellent results. Always be sure you work in a room with plenty of fresh air.

sanding furniture

Step 1: Protective gear and respirator. Install 60-grit sandpaper on your power sander.

Step 2: Sand and dust the paint. Adjust the sandpaper grit and sand to remove painted furniture.

Step 3: Use palm sandpaper to remove stubborn paint from boards, edges, and wood cracks.

Step 4: Buff with 360 extremely fine-grit sandpaper and scrub with a moist towel. Lastly, air-dry as needed. 

Recommended Readings: 


Now you know how to remove paint from stained wood effectively with the right tools and techniques, you can remove the paint from any stained surface without damaging the wood or affecting its natural wood grain and color. 

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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