Planks of wood stained with colourful paint splatter

How to Remove Paint from Wood Without Chemicals

Stripping or removing paint from any surface, be it wood, metal, or plastic is seldom an easy task. It is a difficult task because every surface or item takes paint differently, meaning that you will need to implore unique steps to remove it depending on the type of material it is on.

Both professionals and amateurs trying to remove paint from wood and other items or surfaces have had to settle for chemical-based removers or strippers. Albeit effective, these chemical-based strippers are made with toxic materials which not only makes them harmful to you but also makes it harmful to our environment at large.

In addition to the materials used in the production of these chemicals, one wrong use is capable of causing respiratory issues, severe damage to the nervous system, skin, and other areas.

Most of these paint strippers or removers are so bad that most of the prestigious stores have begun to remove them from their shelves. For instance, most stores in the country have removed all paint strippers made with methylene chloride from their shelves.

This goes to show how harmful these chemical-based paint strippers are to the body and environment. While these strippers have been identified to be harmful, the question most people have asked is how to remove paint from wood without chemicals.

To enable you to remove paint from your wood, various natural removal methods have been created, tested, and proven to be effective. In this piece, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can remove paint from wood without chemicals.

Things to Consider First

Removing paint from wood without chemicals can be a tricky thing to do, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Regardless, there are actually a couple of steps you need to take to ensure that this task is done in an easy and safe manner. These are the steps you need to take to successfully remove paint from wood without chemicals.

Step 1 — Ensure the Wood Is Worth Exposing

Ideally, if you plan on removing paint from wood, it is important that you check if the wood underneath is suitable for use after the paint is removed.

Step 2 — Test the Paint

Before deciding to strip paint off the wood with or without chemicals, it is important that you test for lead, especially if the wood in question was painted a couple of years ago. Currently, there are tons of companies and laboratories that are capable of testing for as little as $30 or less.

If the result comes out positive, it is ideal that you contact the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for tips on how you can safely remove lead paint from wood without harming yourself. Also, hiring a professional would suffice in situations like this.

Step 3 — Professional help

While DIY projects are fun because you get to work on things with your loved ones, not everything is a DIY project, especially paint stripping. As mentioned earlier, many paints are made with harmful or toxic chemicals that are capable of inflicting serious damage to you and the environment.

Based on this, you may decide to hire a professional who’s not only experienced but capable of getting the job done in a safe manner.

If you’re capable of getting the job done yourself, then you need to get protective gear ready before getting started. Adorning protective gear in the course of carrying out this task will keep you safe.

Once you’ve decided to carry out this daunting task yourself, the next thing to do is to get the right materials or gear to get the job done. First, you need to decide on what natural paint removal method you’re opting for and then get the right equipment together.

For gear you will need insulated gloves, boots, safety glasses, and protective clothing. With these materials available, you can begin stripping paint from wood.

How to Remove Paint from Wood

Ways to Remove Paint from Wood without Chemicals

There are currently a few different ways to remove paint from wood without the help of chemicals. This section of the article will discuss some of the best ways you can conveniently remove paint from wood.

Manual Paint Removal Method

Although scraping the paint away may seem like the best paint removal, there are certain toxic chemicals found in the debris that are capable of damaging certain parts of your body. If you opt for the manual paint removal method, there are certain steps you need to take to get the job done safely .

  1. First, put on your preventive pieces of equipment — your glasses, gloves, boots, mask, etc.
  2. With the help of the metal or plastic item, you can confidently scrape paint off wood. Although this method has proven to be effective, it should be done in such a way that the surface is not damaged (which can be hard to do).

Baking Soda and Boiling Water

If your small wooden furniture is plastered with paint, baking soda and boiling water could be the perfect way to remove paint from them. Do not get your hopes high though, as good as this sounds, it is quite tricky to get done. This is especially why we have designed a step-by-step guide on how you can go about it.

Before you get started on this, there are a couple of essential materials or items you’d need to have at hand. They are: paper towels, water, baking soda, tongs, large pans, a flexible scraper, and a stiff-bristled brush.

  1. Step 1 — Pour a quart of boiling water (or any amount that you think is enough) to completely cover the wood to be stripped. Once that is done, you then need to add one to four cups of baking soda.
  2. Step 2 — With the help of some tongs, you need to add the painted wood and ensure that it does not overlap or even touch the other sides of the pan. Now it is time to reduce the heat of the boiling water, then allow the wood to simmer in the hot water for at least fifteen minutes or more.
  3. Step 3 — Using the tongs again, you need to remove the wood from the boiling water, then place it somewhere to cool off, probably on a newspaper or carton.
  4. Step 4 — Once you’ve allowed it to cool off, use the stiff-bristled brush to remove the paint particles on it.
  5. Step 5 — Depending on the quantity of paint on the wood, you may have to repeat this until every bit of paint is removed completely potentially making this is a very long process.

Naturally, this method doesn’t really work for walls or flooring and can be difficult to do without plenty of space and the right equipment.


Sanding has been identified to be one of the very best ways to remove paint from wood without chemicals. Depending on your preference, you can make use of a sander or heavy grit sandpaper to get the job done.

Generally, sanding has been known to create a ton of dust, meaning that you will need a dust mask and goggles if you’re to complete the job as healthy as possible. If you can, it is advised that you do this outside.

In fact, one of the safest ways to use the sanding method is to completely wear protective gear. As mentioned earlier, a ton of dust gathers when you are sanding, so you need to protect yourself.

Before you get started, you need to remove all nails, bolts, screws, doorknobs, and other hardware from the wood. If you find it extremely difficult to remove certain hardware found in the wood, it is advised that you cover it properly with protective tape.

After successfully removing hardware from the wood, the next thing you have to do is get sandpaper. Currently, you can get this piece of equipment at any hardware store. When getting this essential work tool, it is important that you purchase two different sandpapers — a coarse option and a fine option.

You’re probably wondering why you need two types of sandpaper for the job. Here’s why: the rough sandpaper will help you remove the undesired parts while the smoother one will help you tidy up the last uneven parts of the wood.

There are a couple of steps you need to take to successfully remove paint from wood using the sanding method.

  1. Step 1 — The very first thing you have to do is install grit sandpaper. Once that is done, you need to ensure that you have an ample extension (or use a battery-powered sander) cord to reach the surface you will be working on.
  2. Step 2 — Have the sander placed firmly against the wood the paint is to be stripped from. Hold the sander with both hands, then pull the trigger point to start the sander. The nature of the sander is why it is advised that you hold firmly against the wood.
  3. Step 3 — To prevent dipping or gouging on the wood surface, it is important that you do not keep the sander in one position for a long period of time. Continue to sand over the entire wood surface until all paint particles are removed completely.
  4. Note — While most of the paint has been removed, there may still be certain paint particles here and there.
  5. Step 4 — With the help of either a sand edge or a sanding sponge, you can conveniently remove all the remaining paint particles from the wood. You can also use the smoother sandpaper or sander to smoothen the wood surface.

Heat Gun

This is another effective paint removal technique. Many high priced heat guns available on the market today have been designed to include four separate nozzles.

As mentioned earlier, before using any of these methods, especially this one, it is important that you test for lead. If the lead test comes out positive, it is best you hire a professional to get the job done. However, if the test comes out negative, there are a few things you’d need to buy before you get started. They are; paint scraper, resistant gloves, nose or face mask. The reason this matters so much here is that heat from the tool can actually worsen the possibility of lead leaching out.

Ideally, it is advised that you use a heat gun with large sized nozzles. This is because the larger the wood surface area you are able to cover, the faster the paint is removed from your wood. Here’s how you can use a heat gun.

  1. First, turn it on and place it at exactly six to about eight inches away from the painted wood. You simply need to move the tool around the surface of the wood. To prevent dipping, do not leave the tool standing at a place for too long.
  2. Continually doing this across the surface of the wood will definitely weaken the paint, enabling you to scrape it off immediately with the help of a paint scraper.

What You Should Avoid When Removing Paint from Wood

When it comes to removing paint from wood, there are certain practices that should be adhered to strictly. They include:

  • Consider avoiding dry sanding or scraping. This is capable of raising a lot of dust.
  • Your heat gun should be tuned to the “Low” setting and as mentioned earlier should not be left standing at a particular point for a long time.
  • Use a sanding machine that comes with a vacuum attachment.


Removing paint from wood without chemicals can be quite tricky and still harmful to the body. To prevent any damage, it is advised that you adorn the right gear when removing any paint. This piece has discussed in full some of the ways that you can conveniently remove paint from wood.