How to Remove Paint but Leave Wood Stain Intact
LESLIE: Dean in New York is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
DEAN: Good. Well, about two years ago, my family and I moved into a different home and we had wood molding around the doors and such. And I decided, mistakenly, to surprise my wife one day and paint all of that. And not a good thing and I found out two years …
TOM: Oh. Uh-oh. Man, you got in big trouble for that one, didn’t you?
DEAN: Yeah. I found out about two years later that she didn’t really like it and I’m …
TOM: Oh, she – aw, she was so sweet. She didn’t tell you for two years?
LESLIE: For two years.
DEAN: Exactly. But I’ve come to not like it too much, either, so I was trying to actually scrape the paint off. And I can do a lot of it by hand but a lot of it seems on there and I just want to see if there’s a way to get the paint off without actually – you know, to go back to the finished wood that was there without taking the layers off underneath, meaning the stain and such.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, generally, when you’re dealing with paint removal, it really does help to use a chemical paint remover. And there are a ton of different ones on the market: some that are spray-on; some that are more liquid-y; and others that are more gelatinous, that sort of sit on the surface. Both of them will take off layer by layer by layer.
I can’t guarantee to you that when you get down to that original stain that you like, that it’s going to be great condition; you’ll just wipe it off and be done with it. You may need to then take that layer off and restain.
DEAN: Alright. Would sanding be an option or would that possibly be more harm?
LESLIE: No because if you use sand, I mean …
TOM: That’s going to dig right into it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And even with the scraping, if you sort of go in there with your fingernail or a putty knife, you could sort of gouge into the wood itself. So I would get a liquid paint remover – one that’s in a sprayable format – spray it on, let it sit on there to sort of break up that first layer and then carefully use a paint scraper and just sort of smoothly go across the surface and see if you could start taking it off.
But just be very cautious because you don’t want to overspray the remover so that you’re getting into the stain. But generally, because the paint is made of a different component than the stain, you should be able to get down to it. But just be gentle in the removal.
DEAN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.