The Best Paint Removers For Stripping Any Material

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Whether it's time to restore those kitchen cabinets to their former glory or remove the spills that got on your patio during your renovation, paint removers come in handy. And we're here so you can choose the right paint remover for your project. The original formulas for these products were great at stripping paints but were also hazardous. While it is still critical to wear gloves, eyewear, protective clothing, and a mask when using any strippers, there is not the same worry of burning your skin and damaging your respiratory system as with the chemicals from the old days.

It is important to get a remover that does not contain methylene chloride, as this chemical is potentially cancer-causing, or N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), as it can affect the reproductive system (via U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). The best paint strippers are safe to use on multiple surfaces, work quickly, only require a few coats, and can remove a range of varnishes.

How we selected products

We selected the following paint removers on the criteria: they work effectively to strip coatings, do not contain severely harsh chemicals, can be used on various surfaces, and remove more than just paint. The products could not make our list without hitting these marks. It was a bonus if the removers had a thick or drip-resistant formula, low to no odor, quick activation time, and were biodegradable for a simple way to dispose of the paint stripper.

We analyzed customer ratings and reviews across various sites to verify efficiency, client satisfaction, and user-friendliness. Along with these guidelines, we considered product price, size, and expert recommendations. Our picks are great for professional and DIY users alike. They are great for any project featuring wood, concrete, and metal. Plus, there are fast-acting and eco-friendly options. So you can have the best products for any job without worrying about whether it's safe or functional.

Best overall: Citristrip's Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel

Citristrip's Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel is suitable for all your stripping needs. The gel is easy to spread without being too runny. It is perfect for removing dried latex and oil paint. It also gets rid of varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, and shellac. It can degunk five layers in just one hour. Use it safely on wood, metal, and masonry surfaces. Plus, it leaves a fresh orange scent without popular irritants like methylene chloride or NMP.

Purchase Citristrip's Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel on Amazon for $13.48.

Best fast-acting: MAX Strip All Purpose Remover

Need the job done quickly? MAX Strip All-Purpose Remover may be your answer. Its formula takes effect in just 15 minutes, addressing everything from sticker adhesive to various paint types. MAX Strip states that the water-based formula can be used on all sorts of different surfaces like wood, carpet, and glass. Unlike some other strippers, this particular one does not have any pungent odors. This great product is advertised for any skill level, from professionals to beginning DIYers. 

Sunnyside-Corporation's 2-Minute Remover Advanced Gel is available at Home Depot for $15.97.

Best eco-friendly: NPS RX's Natural Paint Stripper

NPS RX's Natural Paint Stripper is an environmentally friendly, biodegradable, non-toxic, low-odor paint stripper. It is free from methylene chloride, N-methyl-pyrrolidone, and caustics — chemicals that burn the skin and irritate the respiratory system. It is recommended on all surfaces to strip sealers, paints, and varnishes, both solvent and water-based. Latex products, acrylics, stains, lacquers, and epoxies don't stand a chance against this paint stripper. It activates in 20 to 30 minutes and deactivates with water.

Purchase NPS RX's Natural Paint Stripper for $15.97 at Home Depot.

Best for wood: Max Strip's Paint and Varnish Stripper

Is there anything more satisfying than stripping wood to its natural finish? Remove paint, latex, polyurethane, shellac, varnish, acrylic, and oil-based coatings from your wooden surfaces with Max Strip's Paint and Varnish Stripper. You don't have to worry about harsh ingredients like methylene chloride, NMP, caustic or flammable chemicals. Plus, it is biodegradable and non-toxic. Brush, spray, or roll on the thick, drip-resistant gel formula. Apart from wood, you can use it on cement, metal, porcelain, and brick. But it is not made to be used in direct sunlight.

Get Max Strip's Paint and Varnish Stripper for $14.95 on Amazon.

Best for metal: Goof Off's Professional Strength Remover

Goof Off's Professional Strength Remover will erase dried latex paint from your metal surfaces. It is safe for most cars, trucks, boats, and RV surfaces. Besides paint, you can use this remover to strip adhesives, asphalt, tar, stickers, decals, caulk, road grime, and tree sap. Beware, Goof Off has a strong odor. It is best used outdoors or in a highly ventilated area. It is also fit to degunk baseboards, glass, brick, wood, concrete, grout, and fiberglass. However, it is not the best option for stripping oil-based paints.

Find Goof Off's Professional Strength Remover at Lowe's for $25.98.

Best for concrete: Dumond's Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

To remove paint from stone or concrete, Dumond's Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover is a great option. The white paste sheds oil, latex, water, and acrylic-based paints. It also works for varnishes, stains, and coatings from all interior and exterior surfaces. It can handle your outside paint stripping from wood, brick, stone, marble, terra cotta, granite, terrazzo, plaster, and cast iron. However, it does take a while to work. You'll need to leave the remover on for up to 24 hours. Plus, to keep the paste wet, you'll need Dumond's Laminated Paper, which is sold separately.

Dumond's Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover is available on Amazon for $24.12.