How to Remove Enamel Paint

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What is Enamel Paint?

According to

Enamel paint is paint that air dries to a hard, usually glossy, finish, used for coating surfaces that are outdoors or otherwise subject to hard wear or variations in temperature; it should not be confused with decorated objects in “painted enamel“, where vitreous enamel is applied with brushes and fired in a kiln. The name is something of a misnomer as in reality, most commercially available enamel paints are significantly softer than either vitreous enamel or stoved synthetic resins, and are totally different in composition; vitreous enamel is applied as a powder of paste and then fired at high temperature. There is no generally accepted definition or standard for use of the term enamel paint, and not all enamel-type paints may use it.

Typically the term “enamel paint” is used to describe oil-based covering products, usually with a significant amount of gloss in them, however recently many latex or water-based paints have adopted the term as well. The term today means, “hard surfaced paint” and usually is in reference to paint brands of higher quality, floor coatings of a high gloss finish, or spray paints. Some enamel paints have been made by adding varnish to oil-based paint.

Although, to repeat, “enamels” and “painted enamel” in art normally refer to vitreous enamel, in the 20th century some artists used commercial enamel paints in art, including Pablo Picasso (mixing it with oil paint), Hermann-Paul and Sidney Nolan. The Trial (1947) is one of a number of works by Nolan to use enamel paint, usually Ripolin, a commercial paint not intended for art, also Picasso’s usual brand. [1] Some “enamel paints” are now produced specifically for artists.

How To Remove Enamel Paint

Multiple layers of Enamel Paint can be difficult to remove. The basic methods are sand paper, heat guns and chemical paint removers. Each method has its drawbacks: Using sandpaper on enamel is a tedious job and requires care, patience and time. Using a heat gun is dangerous for the novice. Chemical paint strippers can be expensive and some are dangerous, caustic and not safe for the environment.

These tips will help you remove enamel paint safely and effectively:

1: Select The Proper Paint Stripper to remove Enamel Paint

There are two different kinds of chemical paint strippers.

  • Toxic Paint Strippers require you to wear protective gear like a mask, gloves, and safety goggles. The area needs to be well ventilated.
  • Safe Paint Strippers are “green” and “biodegradable.”

2: Remove the Enamel Paint Residue

No paint remover is perfect. More than likely you will have to apply several applications to get almost all the paint off.

After the majority of the paint is removed use a fine sandpaper to remove the residual paint.

Always sand in a circular direction and be careful not to cause indentations in the wood or other surface.

The Final step is to wipe the surface down with a soft damp cloth.

3: Applying the Chemical Paint Stripper

Paint Removers can either be a liquid, paste or aerosol. Care should be taken in the application process.

Various tools are effective based on the type of paint remover: paintbrush, spatula, or a foam paint applicator.

Do not apply the paint remover in a similar manner, as you would paint. Apply the paint remover “heavy” by placing “blobs” of the stripper on the surface.

A thick application is the way to go for the best results.

If you do not apply enough to the surface you will for sure have to do it again!

4: Cover the Stripper

Cover the paint stripper with paper towels; saran wrap or even aluminum foil allows it to stay moist longer.

The longer a paint stripper stays wet, the better it will work.

Paint removing products that come with special “paint removal paper” (like Peel Away) excel in removing multiple layers of paint.

5:  Cleanup

Cleaning up old paint can be a “pain.” And messy. You should have a double strength plastic bag handy.

Some paint remover products like Peel Away have a distinct advantage in the clean up p process.  Peel Away is a paste that you cover with the Peel Away Paper. As the paint is drying it gets absorbed to the Peel Away Paper and attaches to it.  This makes clean up very easy.

6: Safe Disposal

Proper disposal of the old paint is very important and in fact many community have specific regulations especially when it comes to lead paint removal.

Contact your local authorities if you are not sure of the proper disposal in your community.

When using a chemical paint stripper seal the debris in a container. Do not place this debris in your trash. It is considered toxic waste.

Contact your local authorities if you are not sure of the proper disposal in your community.

If you are using a “safe non-toxic biodegradable stripper” you can put it in your trashcan.

For a great selection of paint removers, visit



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