Best Paint Strippers for Wood: Types and Buyer’s Guide


Preparing your project for paint is not hard, but if you use reclaimed wood or painted wood, the task can become tedious very quickly. You can’t go wrong with a paint stripper if you want to remove paint from wooden furniture quickly and easily.

The best paint remover will swiftly and efficiently break down old paint, varnish, or coatings on the surface you’re working on, allowing them to be wiped or scraped away. There are various chemical paint stripper products on the market, but they are not all created equal. 

The 3 Types of Paint Strippers:

Solvent-Based Paint Stripper

Solvent-based paint removers break the bond between the wood and the paint. It works by causing the paint to expand, which causes the bond between the wood and paint to decrease. Water-based strippers fall under the solvent-based paint stripper because water is the “solvent” in these products.

Methylene chloride was a common element in solvent-based paint strippers in the past. They function exceptionally well; however, they offer a more significant health danger than caustic strippers. They impair the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen for a short time and may induce permanent liver and kidney damage as well as cancer. 

Caustic Based Paint Stripper

Caustic Baist paint Strippers usually contain high pH and sodium hydroxide as active compounds. This type of paint stripper works by breaking down the paint compound, making paint loose and easy to scrape off. Caustic paint strippers can cause skin burn and have to be handled with care.

Biochemical Based Paint Strippers

Plant-derived solvents are used in Biochemical Based Paint Strippers. 

Terpenes from pine or citrus, lactic acids from corn sugars, dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) from wood pulp and paper by-products, citric acid, and soy oil are examples of biochemical-based strippers. 

Some of these materials can cause skin irritation. Most of these strippers contain NMP in addition to the biological components. Strippers labeled “safe” or “green” do not contain methylene chloride, although they may contain NMP, DBE, biological agents, or a combination of these.

Which Type of Paint Stripper is Right for You?

Whether you need to employ a caustic or solvent paint stripper depends entirely on the coated surface, the type of paint used, and the coated surface state.

Paint Stripper TypeProsCons
Solvent-Based Paint StripperProduce a clean surface free of damage and stains.1. Messier to use.
2. Less effective compared to caustic paint stripper when it comes to removing multiple layers of paint.
3. Expensive compared to caustic paint strippers.
Caustic Based Paint Stripper1. Excellent for removing thick layers of paint.
2. Work great with surfaces with detailed molding.
The risk of you staining or burning wooden surfaces, whereas solvent-based removers do not discolor or damage the surface.
Biochemical Based Paint Strippers1. Great for people without protective gears.
2. Comparatively safe.
Expensive compared to other strippers.

Tips Before You Start Stripping

  • Protect the environment, as even non-toxic paint strippers can harm the vegetation in your backyard. If feasible, cover nearby grass and plants with lightweight plastic.
  • Use paint stripper only in a well-ventilated area, such as the outdoors.
  • Avoid Stripper that contains the carcinogen methylene chloride.
  • When using paint strippers, make sure you use thick gloves, goggles, a mask, and protective gear that covers your arms and legs.
  • Follow instructions written on the label thoroughly.

Paint Stripper Application

Dip a disposable paintbrush into the paint stripper and apply it as specified on the package instructions. Apply strokes in a single direction, take short strokes. Follow instructions for specific application times.

Best Paint Strippers in September, 2021

The following list highlights the best paint strippers available. The products listed below remove paint fast and are suitable for a wide range of coatings and materials.

 Paint StripperType 
1Safe ‘n Easy Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover GelBiochemical Based Check Price
2MAX Strip Paint & Varnish StripperBiochemical Based Check Price
3Motsenbocker's Lift Off Latex Paint Remover Spray
Biochemical Based Check Price
4Dumond Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover Biochemical Based Check Price
5Sunnyside Corporation Paint & Varnish 2 Minute Remover Advanced GelBiochemical Based Check Price

Safe ‘n Easy Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover Gel

Safe ‘n Easy Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover Gel
Photo: Amazon

This paint remover is good at removing latex and oil-based paints, as well as shellac, varnish, and polyurethane. It can remove multiple layers of paint.

Safe ‘n Easy paint and varnish remover are not only biodegradable and free of hazardous compounds like methylene chloride and NMP, but it also emits no toxic fumes. The scent of this paint stripper is one of its most enticing features. It gives a light citrus fragrance. It works on almost all wood types to remove 15 or more latex layers and oil-based paint and varnish.

Pros
  • Removes multiple layers of paint
  • 100% biodegradable
  • No harmful smells. Fume free
  • It doesn’t have chemicals such as methylene chloride or NMP
Cons
  • Short working time, It dries up quickly
  • Not ideal for removing very old paint stains

MAX Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper

MAX Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper
Photo: Amazon

Max Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper is free of methylene chloride, NMP, and other caustic chemicals; it removes paint—and even layers of paint—from various surfaces. Max Strip’s Stripper, unlike some other paint strippers, does not have a strong odor. It’s simple to use and effective at removing paint and varnish off the wood.

Pros
  • It does NOT contain toxic chemicals like Methylene Chloride and NMP
  • Convenient easy to use no drip gel
  • No harsh fumes or unpleasant odor
  • Non-caustic and low volatile organic compound formula
  • Cleans up with just water
Cons
  • It cannot remove paints that have been baked.

Motsenbocker’s Lift Off Latex Paint Remover Spray

Motsenbocker's Lift Off 41301 22-Ounce Latex Paint Remover Spray
Photo: Amazon

Motsenbocker’s Lift Off works perfectly for a small project. It’s pretty good at removing latex paint and latex enamel from various surfaces while still reasonably priced. This paint remover is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Although the maker claims that it is biodegradable and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it has an odor. It removes paint effectively without causing any damage to the surface beneath.

Pros
  • It starts works quickly
  • It’s simple to utilize on vertical surfaces.
Cons
  • Spray bottle provides less coverage.

Dumond Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

Dumond Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover
Photo: Amazon

Most of the projects that we do are indoors that means you’ll have to open windows, and running fans can only do so much to ventilate the space. Smart Strip is odor-free and doesn’t contain methylene chloride, which makes it convenient for indoor use. There are no unpleasant odors. 

There are no fumes, no caustics, or hazardous chemicals, such as Methylene Chloride or NMP. Painting professionals can rely on this product.

Pros
  • It can remove 15 layers of paint with a single application
  • It can act on various surfaces.
  • Long working period 
  • It’s completely odorless
Cons
  • Poor packaging

Sunnyside Corporation Paint & Varnish 2 Minute Remover Advanced Gel

Sunnyside Corporation Paint & Varnish 2 Minute Remover Advanced Gel
Photo: Amazon

Paint removers, in many circumstances, require a significant amount of time to work—you must apply, wait, and then remove. The downtime in the middle might eat up a significant portion of your day.

Sunnyside Corporation’s fast-acting paint and varnish remover if you want to speed up the procedure. This paint remover works on a variety of materials, including wood and metal, and may be used to remove a wide range of paints, including oil-based and latex paints, as well as varnish and finishes.

You may need additional coats for challenging projects, but this paint remover will finish the job within two minutes.

Pros
  • It doesn’t contain Methylene chloride 
  • Removes multiple layers with one application
  • It can be applied on vertical surfaces
  • Fast-acting; I will start working on most coatings in 2-10 minutes.
Cons
  • Produces an odor after application

Bottom Line

The best Paint Stripper for you will eventually be determined by the jobs you need it for. Paint strippers used to be a dangerous and challenging task due to poisonous compounds and toxic fumes in older paint removers.

Thankfully, there are now many paint remover products that are both effective and simple to use and contain non-toxic, biodegradable, and occasionally odorless chemicals. Choose a green product wherever possible, one that does not contain harsh chemicals like methylene chloride or NMP, which are hazardous to humans and harmful to the environment.

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