How to Remove Old Paint and Varnish with Chemical Paint Removers

Chemical Paint Removers. Smart Strip. Dumond Chemicals

Chemical Paint Removers from Dumond Chemicals

How to Remove Old Paint and Varnish with Chemical Paint Removers

All handymen will, at one time, be faced with a home repair project that requires the removal of multiple layers of old paint or varnish before applying a new finish. This can be a tedious, frustrating project! There are several ways to accomplish this task:

1. Use a quality chemical paint or varnish remover to soften the surface.
2. Use a pointed instrument like a razor blade or utility knife to scrape away the dissolved paint or varnish.
3. Carefully sand the surface to remove the multiple layers of paint or varnish. Be careful not to go too far into the underlying surface.
4. Use a heat gun specifically rated for paint removal.
5. Most Effective way is to use a chemical paint remover to remove multiple layers of old paint. Chemical paint removers are sold in either as a paste, liquid or aerosol spray. There are no absolute rules when it comes to paint strippers but the following is a good guideline:

Liquid Paint Removers are usually good for removing one or two layers of paint since these types of formulas dry too quickly and do not get absorbed into multiple layers of paint. They are effective for detailed intricate surfaces.

Paste Paint Removers are much more effective since they stay wet much longer in order to strip multiple layers of old paint in one application. They are effective on vertical and even overhead surfaces like ceilings. After the paste has dried the old paint call easily be scraped off, washed off or in some instances adhere to a fibrous paper included with the product. (i.e. Dumond Laminated Paper formerly known as Peel Away Paper by Dumond Chemicals)

Aerosol Paint Removers are new to the market place. They are easy to use, great on difficult surfaces and make removing 1-2 layers of paint simple and easy (try Smart Strip Aerosol by Dumond Chemicals).

Here are some quick tips that you should consider when removing paint with chemical paint strippers:

1. Research paint removal products before you start your job. Not every product works for every problem.

2. Visit your favorite paint store. Consult with the sales representative to determine which paint removal product will work for you.

3. Go online and do some first hand research. You will be amazed how much information is available like what we saw at Check out some of the online stores like, and They offer specific information about which product works best for each type of paint and surface.

4. When applying paint removal paste, use a sturdy brush and always spread the paint remover evenly over the entire surface. This will help get a uniform surface.

5. If necessary, you may need to go back and redo the process for those surfaces that have “stubborn” old paint.

6. Aerosols are the most convenient and easiest way to apply paint remover; however, they are not made for multiple layers of old paint. These removers are great for small jobs. They also can make detailed paint removal a breeze. We have found Smart Strip Aerosol by Dumond Chemicals is the best aerosol paint remover.

7. Some paint removers claim to be “environmentally friendly.” Read the label carefully to ensure that the product is “green.” We highly recommend the use of environmentally friendly paint removers. Our favorite in this category is Smart Strip Paint Remover by Dumond Chemicals.

8. Always do a “test patch” when applying any paint remover. This will determine how long to leave the paint remover on the surface and whether it will be effective for the paint or coatings you are trying to remove.

9. Always wear chemical resistant gloves even if you are using an environmentally friendly paint remover.

10. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Open the windows if you are working inside.

11. Be patient! It takes time for a chemical paint remover to do its job. Allow the chemicals proper time to penetrate the old paint. They have been there for years and it will take hours (sometimes 24 hours) for them to be removed.

12. You may need to apply a second coat of paint remover on difficult or with many different layers of coatings.

13. It is very difficult to remove paint from fine furniture. Be careful and go slow or you will not be happy with the results. The absolutely best product to use on fine furniture that will not be repainted is Peel Away 7. Often two applications are required to get down to the bare wood. Patience is a virtue when removing paint from fine furniture.

Tips for removing paint or varnish by sanding:

1. When this method is chosen, use a power or hand sander for smaller jobs and for bigger projects considers using a drum sander or belt sander. Check the great selection of sanders at

2. Always remember sanding removes some of the wood surface below the paint. Be careful and work slowly.

3. Always use open coat, coarse sandpaper when removing old paint and varnish. Fine sandpaper clogs up quickly and makes the process very time-consuming.

4. Sanding is recommended only on extremely rough jobs.

Chemical paint strippers are more effective and will give better results but they do cost more money!

Tips for removing paint or varnish with a heat gun:
1. Heat guns do work since they destroy the film in the old paint and then the paint can easily be scraped away. Check out the selection of great heat guns at

2. The process can be dangerous and caution is recommended.

3. Never keep the heat gun in one spot. It can easily burn the wood or other surface. Move the heat gun in a circular motion and avoid browned or darkened spots to appear. If you smell something burning stop immediately.

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