10 Best Paint Strippers: Removers For Metal, Wood & More

Looking to paint some household items and make them look like new again? Before you do anything, you need to find the best paint stripper or best paint remover so the job can start right.

With so many varieties to choose from, finding the best options can be difficult. I’ve already done all the research you need, don’t waste any more time. Follow this comprehensive guide and get started off on the right foot.

Understanding Types of Paint Removers

There are numerous ways to remove paint. Let’s take a glance at the most common options on the market.

Heat Guns

This is a great method for softening thick layers of paint. Generally, you’ll want to consider this option when working on a flat surface or in a tight space.

You have to be careful to use the right temperature. If you use the gun on too low of heat, it will take forever to complete the job. If the heat is too high, it can create harmful vapors and char the wood.


Power sanding disks or handheld sanders will slowly grind away the paint you need to be removed. They work best on large, flat surfaces.

If you don’t hook a sander into a vacuum to collect the dust, you probably won’t want to do this indoors. In addition, it isn’t recommended when working with lead paint.

Infrared Devices

These machines use infrared rays to heat up the bond between paint and materials. They won’t create any noise or dust and offer quick work of a hard job.

30 seconds of an infrared blast can soften decades of paint. In addition, the paint never goes above 500 degrees Fahrenheit so there is no chance of the wood igniting.

The downside to this method is that the tools can be bulky and difficult to use in tight spaces.

Steam Strippers

With the use of water vapor, the paint softens without it ever heating about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This eliminates all fire risk and the condensation minimized fumes and dust.

As a downside, the steam stripping process generates lots of moisture and can saturate the wood.

Paint Scrapers

There is a huge variety of scrapers available on the market. The 5-in-1 scraper is often referred to as the painter’s tool because of the curved edge that cleans a paint roller.

Metal pull scrapers are available with replaceable blade profiles that can match any surface needing to be stripped. This offers more control than push scrapers when working in tight spots or with fine details.

If you find that scraping begins to look sloppy, simply rotate the head of the scraper until you’ve run out of fresh sides. Then, replace the blade.

Paint Strippers

These can come in various forms including liquids, pastes, gels, and wipes. Whichever variety you choose will work to dissolve the paint. There is no dust involved in the process and you don’t end up with paint chips.

This is a good option when you are dealing with fine details or projects with awkward shapes. In addition, you’ll find they hit spots that might have been missed when using a heat gun.

This process can be slow and filled with noxious odors.

Solvent Paint Strippers

Most solvent paint strippers will use dichloromethane which can pose some serious health risks.

There are other options that are formulated with orange oil, N-methylpyrrolidone, aromatic hydrocarbons and esters as well. The paint will either dissolve or bubble up on the surface as it works.

Caustic Paint Strippers

These are water-based with a pH of 13 to 14. They contain lye as the active ingredient which causes the paint to loosen from the surface. This variety of stripper has been known to create skin burns and lung irritation.

Biochemical Paint Strippers

This option offers plant-derived solvents. Sometimes this contains terpenes from pine or citrus; lactic acid from corn sugar; dimethylsulfoxide from wood pulp; and soy oil. These can induce skin irritations if proper safety precautions are not taken.

Power Washing

When working on the exterior of a building, power washing is a good option. Using the high-pressure spray is effective at removing paint from wood, bricks, stone, and concrete.

If you aren’t familiar with the strength associated with a power wash, you can easily cause damage to the surface, especially wood.

best paint stripper

How To Choose the Right Stripping Product

If you use the wrong stripping product for the job you are performing, you can easily damage your surface. This will lead to additional work that you won’t want to do. By choosing the best paint stripper or best paint remover for the job, you save yourself unnecessary time and money.

Always read the label carefully on any chemical stripper you are using. Some of them are designed specifically for paints, varnishes, epoxy, stains or other finishes. Generally, these products will not be interchangeable.

You’ll also notice that they will specify which surfaces they will work on. This includes wood, metal or masonry. Trying to use a product on the wrong surfaces is going to bring undesirable results. If you want to choose a method that doesn’t involve the liquid strippers, then opting for one of the mechanical devices is best for you. This can include the sander, heat gun or infrared devices.

Most of these will also require the use of a scrapper for detail work or tight spaces. Some people choose to use a scraper solely for removing the paint from an item. This is a long process that can be tedious. It isn’t recommended that you use a scraper alone, but rather combine it with the efforts of a paint removing device or a chemical stripper.

Another thing to keep in mind is how long you have to remove the paint.

For quicker jobs that require less effort, the chemical solvents are going to work the fastest.

If you would rather avoid the chemicals and don’t mind investing some extra labor, the heat gun or sander would be a good option. It is all a matter of personal preference.

best paint remover

10 Best Paint Strippers Reviewed

Here are the top 10 paint strippers currently available. These range from heat guns, to varnishes, sanders, gels and more. Read more to find out which is best for you job.

1. PORTER-CABLE PC1500HG 1500-Watt Heat Gun

This heat gun offers a powerful 1500-watt motor that will get the paint off quickly. With the dual fan speed selector and variable temperature control dial, you can apply whatever temperature is needed to get the job done. The heat gun comes with an integrated hands-free support stand as well as a 6-foot high-grade cord.

You can use this for more than just paint removal. Use it to bend plastic pipes, remove adhesive tiles and weld plastic as well. The unit is lightweight at just one pound so there is no worry of your hands tiring during long jobs.

  • Low-cost
  • Easy to use controls
  • Can be used for multiple jobs
  • Quiet
  • Can burn wood if not used properly
  • Can take a while to remove paint

2. Citri-Strip QCG73801T Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel

This is widely recognized as the best paint stripper for wood and is a bestselling product. It can strip multiple layers with ease and stays wet for up to 24 hours. There is no methylene Chloride so it is non-caustic and safe for indoor use.

The pleasant citrus scent is refreshing and non-invasive. It is also completely biodegradable and effective as an industrial-strength remover. Because this formula stays wet for 24 hours, you can expect to remove multiple layers with ease.

You can use this on a wide range of products to remove latex, lacquer, varnish and oil-based paints.

  • Effective
  • Non-caustic
  • Biodegradable
  • Pleasant smell
  • Tends to work best with latex paints
  • Will require multiple applications for multiple layers of paint

3. Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch

Sanders are fairly effective at removing paint. This Black & Decker offers a random orbital action to offer a high removal rate and high-quality finish. The hook and loop system offers fast and easy paper changes. In addition, the dust-sealed switch keeps all the debris and dust out.

This is a great option for any DIYer to own since it can be used for multiple purposes beyond removing paint. It is compact, ergonomic and versatile making it well worth the money. This is also a great way to finish the project before repainting it and ensuring that all the edges are smooth.

  • Low cost
  • Can be used for multiple projects
  • Easily removes multiple layers of paint
  • Easy paper changes
  • Will need access to electrical outlet
  • Goes through multiple pieces of paper on larger projects

4. Goof Off FG658 Professional Strength Remover

This aerosol paint remover has been well-known to be the best paint stripper for metal. It is manufactured in the U.S. and cuts through the thickest layers with ease. It is far more than just paint; you can use it for other spills and stains as well.

Consider removing crayon, candle wax, lipstick, tar, tree sap and more with this amazing formula. Keep a bottle in the garage and one in the house for all the ways this can be used. You will find that this works best on removing dried, latex paints off most any surface.

  • Can be used for many projects
  • Cuts through thick layers easily
  • Low cost
  • Saves money over replacing items that have been stained
  • Has strong odor
  • Tends to work best on latex paints

5. Red Devil 4251 Painter’s 6-In-1-Tool

This tool is just amazing for removing paint as well as a number of other purposes. The solvent-resistant handle makes it possible to use this with solvent-based strippers.

The rust-resistant steel blade also allows for a lifetime of use without wear. It is designed for maximum safety and dependability in mind. You can carry this easily in your pocket and use on most any repair or refinishing job with ease.

Consider the alternate uses such as spreader, gouger, putty remover, nail setter, scraper and paint roller cleaner. This tool works best at removing paint when used with other products. It is also ideal for getting into areas and corners of surfaces where other products can’t reach.

  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Multiple purposes
  • Gets in hard to reach areas
  • Low cost
  • Works best when used with other products
  • Could take a while to strip paints from large surfaces

6. Pit Bull CHIGH0014UL 1200W Electric Heat Gun and Paint Stripper

This Pit Bull heat gun and paint stripper has the flexibility to work on dozens of household jobs. It offers a powerful 1200-watt motor that easily strips paint and varnish from most surfaces. It can also remove decals and apply shrink wrap. The cost is low compared to how versatile the machine is.

The set comes with four heat gun nozzles so it can be tailored to whatever task you are using it for. It is always best to use the heat gun with a scraper for maximum results. Consider purchasing the Red Devil scrapper highlighted above as a nice pairing.

  • Flexible for lots of jobs
  • 1200-watt motor
  • Low cost
  • Fans can be slow
  • Could burn surfaces if caution isn’t taken

7. Franmar BLUE BEAR Soy Gel Paint & Urethane Stripper

This paint and urethane stripper works great on enamels, sealers, epoxies and many other coatings as well. It is non-caustic, biodegradable and offers no toxic fumes.

This means it is completely safe to use indoors. In addition, it doesn’t contain Methylene Chloride making this one of the best paint removers for wood.

This formula is actually made from soybeans which makes it safe, but still effective. It comes in a gel form for an easy and no-mess application. The cost is slightly higher than other products, but that is probably due to the more natural formula being offered.

  • Non-caustic
  • Biodegradable
  • Safe to use indoors
  • Works on a multitude of surfaces
  • Higher cost
  • Not as effective as products with harsh chemicals

8. Wagner 0513040 PaintEATER Paint Remover

Wagner is a leader in paint products so it makes sense to purchase a removal tool from them as well. This high-power 3.2-amp motor allows for a powerful performance.

With 2,600 RPM, you can achieve an optimal combination of disc performance and user control. The 3M disc aggressively removes paint while remaining gentle on surfaces.

You will find success when you take on those stubborn paint chips with this tool. The Flex-Disc system also conforms to the contours of any surface no matter how uneven. The compact design also makes it easy to take anywhere and access tight corners.

  • Made from Wagner, a leader in the paint industry
  • High powered
  • Flex-Disc System to work on any surface
  • Compact design
  • Higher cost than most paint removers
  • Requires the use of electricity making it challenging to use anywhere

9. Rust-Oleum Automotive 255448 32-Ounce Aircraft Remover

When you are in need of a highly effective and professional grade remover, you want this option from Rust-Oleum. This aircraft paint stripper is non-flammable and cleans up easily with water.

It can remove the toughest of finishes on most surfaces. In addition, it is fast-acting so there is less time waiting for it to work. You can expect this formula to kick into action in as little as 10 minutes depending what job you are doing.

Use this on automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft and aluminum boats. Just keep in mind that it is extremely caustic. Always wear protective gear when stripping paint.

  • Professional-grade
  • Non-flammable
  • Cleans up with water
  • Strips paint off heavy duty machinery
  • Cost more than most strippers
  • Highly caustic

10. Wagner 0503059 FURNO 300 Heat Tool

Another great paint remover from Wagner! This option offers two temperature settings ranging 750°F to 1100°F for a customizable finish. The ergonomic and lightweight design offer comfort. It also allows the user to feel less fatigue while holding the gun for long periods of time.

The sidebars prevent the hot nozzle from touching any work surface. Plus, the integrated stand offers a safe hands-free operation.

In addition, the Wagner heat tool comes complete with a hanging loop for safe storage while it is cooling down. Use this tool for removing paint and flooring as well as bending plastic and thawing pipes.

  • Low cost
  • Made by Wagner
  • Multiple temperature settings
  • Lightweight design
  • Can take longer to remove paint
  • Works best when used with a scrapper

Best Way to Remove Paint from Wood

Are you looking for the best way to remove paint from wood?

Here are some tips to set you off in the right direction.

Prepare Your Area

Choose a well-ventilated area or head outdoors. The place should be dry and dust-free. Use painter’s tape to secure a tarp to the ground. Remove all furniture hardware.

Scrap Some Paint

By scraping some of the paint from a small area of wood, you will give yourself a better idea how much paint needs to be removed. This will help to prepare you for the best methods.

Clean the Wood

Use a trisodium phosphate (TSP) and follow all the directions. Use a spray bottle or sponge to apply the solution and then wash it off completely. Let the surface dry. Remember not to use this on metal or finished wood as it can cause damage.

Strip the Paint

You can use a variety of methods from sanding, strippers and scraping to remove loose paint and varnish.

Sand Some More

Once you’ve used the other products, you’ll find that you might be left with an uneven surface. Take your time to smooth the surface. This is done best with fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure you leave the surface smooth and even all the way around. Then, wipe away any dust before painting.

Best Way to Remove Paint from Metal

Removing paint from metal is a different process than with wood.

Here are some tips for the best way to remove paint from metal.

Prepare Your Area

Cover the ground with drop cloths. Be sure to also protect yourself with the proper gear. Only remove paint in well-ventilated areas.

Apply Paint Stripper

Pour a small amount of stripper into a metal or glass can. Using a disposable paintbrush, carefully apply this stripper to the metal. While it sets, you’ll notice the paint start to bubble up.

Use a Paint Scraper

Taking a paint scraper, carefully chip away the bubbled paint from the flat areas of the metal. In areas that are hard to reach, use a nylon brush or scrubbing pad instead. Reapply the stripper and do the process again until the piece is free of paint.

Clean the Surface

Dampen a rag with mineral spirits. Wipe the entire surface down until all the flakes of paint are removed.

Give a Final Rinse

Use water to rinse the metal until all traces of the stripper are gone. Then, use a clean rag to dry the surface.


Now that you have seen the best paint stripper and best paint remover on the market, you are ready to take on those painting projects. In no time, you’ll be enjoying refinished furniture throughout the house.

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