The 5 Best Paint Strippers To Remove Old And Cracked Paint

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Whether you are refinishing a small item of furniture or a large wall, removing the old paint or varnish removal is vital to the success of the project. Each and every inch of finish has to be completely stripped away, or else the new paint (or stain or whichever finish you choose) will not stick or the finished project will not look good, explains Home Depot. To get you off to a good start, we have selected five of the best paint strippers, with a focus on versatility. 

Some choices work well to strip off different types of finishes, while others can safely remove the finish on different types of surfaces, from wood to masonry. We also found that some products only require a few minutes of wait, while other choices need to be left overnight or 24 hours to work effectively. Likewise, we did not forget to include paint strippers that are not harsh on the environment or your sensitivity to fumes. So keep reading to learn more about the most effective paint strippers available.

Excellent for stripping latex paint

Goof Off Professional Strength Remover can be used on a variety of different surfaces including wood, metal, and glass, although it is highly recommended that you test Goof Off on a spot that doesn't show to check if it would damage the material, suggests Detail DIY. Another recommendation is to avoid using it on plastic, vinyl, and car paint. According to its front label, Goof Off is formulated to remove dry latex paint, adhesive, and asphalt. Its formula is acetone-based, which for customers who are looking for paint strippers with milder chemicals, might be a drawback.

You can apply Goof Off by pouring it onto a cloth and wiping the surface according to Detail DIY. Next, you will wipe the area that has the paint. If the paint does not come off right away, you can try reapplying the product and letting the area soak for a few minutes before wiping. Otherwise, the stained area is treated in one step. Another recommendation, per the instructions on the container, is to use Goof Off in a well-ventilated area.

Great for removing wood finish

Citristrip Gel can be applied on wood surfaces as well as metal and masonry. It consists of a thick, gel formula that doesn't contain chloride or N-methylpyrrolidone. Along with its non-corrosive formula, My Move also mentions other advantages like its ease of use and ability to work overnight. Its drawbacks, however, relate to difficulties with stripping multiple layers of paint and the odor that might seem strong to some individuals.

To use Citristrip, per the instructions, you need protective eyewear and rubber gloves. The first step is to shake well and then pour the paint remover into a container. Next, you use a paintbrush to spread the gel onto the surface. The waiting time ranges from 30 minutes up to 24 hours depending on the thickness of the paint — you can do a scrape test after the half-hour mark. Once softened, scrape along the wood grain to remove the paint and use a stripping brush on hard-to-reach crevices. Finally, you'll need to apply a removal wash and mineral spirits to get rid of residue and to prep the surface for refinishing.

Most eco-friendly paint stripper

Dumond, the manufacturers of Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover have attempted to gear their product toward the do-it-yourselfers and professionals who are looking for a product that's eco-friendly – 74% of customers who have used Smart Strip gave it a 4-star rating on Amazon. My Move also describes Smart Strip as being free of toxins and fumes and possessing a water-based formula that the manufacturer claims to be 100% biodegradable. Another perk mentioned by My Move is the absence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). However, a longer wait time for the product to take effect and a weaker ability to strip off paint compared to other paint removers are disadvantages that are mentioned.

According to the product's label, you can remove paint from various surfaces including wood, brick, metal, glass, stone, fiberglass, and other surfaces. To use this product, you'll need to first scrape off any loose paint and then apply Smart Strip to the surface and wait between 3 to 24 hours. From there, you can scrape the paint off or rinse it off with a power washer. Plus, you might need to use a nylon brush to remove any residue.

Most versatile paint stripper

For different types of surfaces, Woodworking Clarity recommends Max Strip Paint and Varnish Stripper for its ability to remove shellac, latex, acrylic, and polyurethane. Max Strip's formula is a water-based gel that doesn't contain Methylene Chloride, and there are no fumes when using this product. However, Woodworking Clarity also notes that the product might damage plastic, and it should not be used to remove paint from vehicles or factory-applied finishes.

As stated on Amazon, Max Strip works on masonry, metal, porcelain, and wood. Nonetheless, the process is somewhat lengthy. You start by brushing a thick layer of the product onto the surface, covering it with plastic, and waiting for it to take effect. You can periodically scrape a small area to see if the paint comes off easily. If it does, you continue scraping until the paint is removed and then wipe the surface with a wet sponge. Finally, you wipe the area again with a damp cloth to get rid of residue.

If the paint doesn't scrape off easily, you'll need to replace the plastic and wait for another 15 to 30 minutes. One aspect of Max Strip that might be confusing is the lack of bubbling that you often see with paint strippers. Otherwise, 71% of customers on Amazon gave Max Strip 4 or more stars.

The ideal paint stripper for the do-it-yourselfer

Smart n' Easy Citrus Paint and Varnish Remover Gel strips away different types of finishes from various surfaces, similar to its Max Strip counterpart. similarly, you will have to keep doing a scrape test to see if the product has taken effect, which can be a setback for a longer project. However, some benefits that are listed by Wood Working Clarity involve its formula, which does not contain any cancer-causing chemicals and is biodegradable. Plus, the label claims that the product can strip off 15 layers of paint.

Wood Working Clarity explains that this product works better for shorter tasks. Aside from wearing protective gear, the preliminary steps include rolling the gel onto the surface — make sure the gel doesn't dry, or else you have to apply more product. After you coat the surface with Smart n' Easy, cover it with plastic. The wait time ranges from 1 to 24 hours, but you'll need to check underneath every 90 minutes to make sure it's still damp. Finally, you'll rinse the surface and clean it with a nylon brush.