Removing paint was always a scary process to me: put on a chemical, wait for it to do the work, then take it off – seems simple enough. But the chemical itself worries me. I mean, paint, poly, all that stuff is toxic enough, but if you need some other solution to take it back off… that seems way more harsh to me. When I found myself needing to remove paint for a project gone awry, I was gifted a tool through HomeRight that was made to remove paint – and it was chemical free – so I decided try it to see if it would work. After a little research (and a lot of trial and error), I finally learned how to remove paint from furniture without chemicals.
*this post contains affiliate links*
Using a heat gun to remove paint is super, duper easy. If you can dry your hair and brush it at the same time, you can do it. I used the Heat Pro Deluxe II by HomeRight, which they sent to me to try.
The heat loosens up the paint, so that you can remove it with the scraper (also included in the kit.) For large flat surfaces (like a table top), There is an attachment that helps channel the hot air (that’s over 1000 degrees!) right where you want it to go. I worked in small 4 inch square areas, so the paint wouldn’t cool and re-harden before scraping.
After you have heated the paint until it bubbles up, use the tool to scrape the paint off of the surface. If you have multiple layers, you may need to reheat a bit to get the layers all the way to bare wood.
Once you have all the paint removed, then sand the area well and repaint.
I decided to put a white top onto my grey cabinet to lighten it up a bit – and I’m really happy with the two tone treatment. Like the flower arrangement on top? You can learn to make your own mason jar flower centerpiece box.
Edited to add: Please read through all precautions, etc. in the book included with the tool. You should wear a face mask when removing paint. If you think that your paint contains lead, please take extra precautions before removing paint.
Got more questions on how to remove paint from furniture without chemicals? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!
*Thanks to Homeright for partnering with me on this post*
Lisa Hogan says
OOOH! I have a heat gun and love working with it. I never tought of removing paint with it! I will definately have to try this the next time I want to stip something. I may have to look for a piece of furniture with gobs of paint on it just to try this method out!
Beamer Smith says
Wait… you have a heat gun, but you never thought of stripping? What Do you use it for?
Oh wow! I already have a heat gun…this makes SO much sense…why didn’t I think of that?! lol Thanks for sharing, Gina!
Angie Holden says
That turned out great Gina!!
KC Coake says
Great tip! I’ve always hated using all the chemicals. Do you know if there is anything in terms of chemicals released and such by heating the paint up? I guess it probably doesn’t matter since it is chemicals one way or the other…this at least doesn’t add more chemicals to the earth.
Thanks for the tip. I’m pinning it,
Probably why they say to wear a mask/ respirator.
Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap says
that seems easy to do!
The cabinet turned out so pretty. I have used the heat gun, but a slow method, but gets the work done without harsh chemicals. \Thanks for sharing this tip.
Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures
Jenny Lynn says
I like the two tone look of the cabinet. It makes me happy to know that there is another way to remove paint without all the chemicals.
How do you get the paint off not flat surfaces? What about curved detailed pieces?
There are additional tools in the kit to help get into all the nooks and crannies using the same heat gun 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Beamer Smith says
YOu can use different shaped scrapers and if you are careful, a wire brush (with the heat thought) Then you sand..
Susan-Amber Springer says
I’ve used a heat gun to remove paint from clapboard car siding on our American Foursquare home–huge job! Have also used the gun on wood trim inside the house BUT found it damaging on stair steps. Apparently the heat warps the wood, causing the step to creak. For that I’ve used Peel-Away, which seems to be less chemical.
My point: make absolutely sure the item you’re stripping will not be damaged by warping. I’ve done hours of stripping by hand, have used any tool I could find including dental tools, and would likely not start the process again! Oh, the time and sweat!
Gotta be really careful doing this. I agree it works wonderfully but when I was half way through my job and thought possibly I should look into a respirator the guy at Lowe’s almost had a heart attack when I told him what I was doing. The paint in my house is most likely lead based paint which was common in older homes. He said that when heated it changes the chemical compound and he could not even recommend a respirator that would make it safe for me to do this. Very sad because I totally agree this is a great way to strip paint. Be careful!
Good to know. I’m in a vintage farmhouse… built in perhaps the 1920s, last remodeled in about the 1950s. I’ve got layers of assorted paint dating from the 40s/50s up to more modern stuff when my cousins bought the house… 1970s-90s. So most likely all my paint on the woodwork is lead-based as well. Most of flaking and peeling, so I’ve been removing it to refinish with a good primer and latex enamel… I’ve been either scraping or using some orange goop paint stripper… I came across this article, but when I saw they were using a heat gun, I was doubtful, because of the possible fumes.
Can you use this in small intricate detail on furniture ?
Could you use this method for removing gray paint from a copper fireplace hood? If not, any other suggestions?
Carolyn… it is possible… I’ve never seen a copper fireplace hood, but I’d be worried about your scraping tool damaging the surface. a steamer might also be an option. I’ve been able to get built-up paint off old door and cabinet hardware by removing the hardware from the wood and boiling it with baking soda and water in an old pot.
Beamer Smith says
YOu can still use the heat gun (or even a torch if you are Very careful, and OUT SIDE!) I’d use a wooden scraper to do copper so you do not gouge.. I use a hard wood wooden spoon that’s cut with a bias edge.. like a scraper.. and I soak it in oil over night (cooking is ok) to keep it from drying out under the heat..
Back in the 50s the heat strippers actually had a flame coming out of a jet on the front. I watched my dad working on removing paint from our old house in preparation for repainting. When I think about that now I think: SCARY!
We now know better about old lead based paints, and I am just grateful that he was working on the outside of our home and not the inside!
I’ve used this process for years. It certainly works on many finishes! But it also raises the grain of the wood causing swelling which them small melted paint bits get pushed into. In antique furniture or delicate laminate that has been mistreated by a previous owner under hideous paint…there are still very effective chemical strippers available that are environmentally friendly. And if you let the used solution ‘rest’ between uses the old paint sediment settles and you can pour off an filter (through a paint cone filter) the reusable fluid. I’ve gotten several uses out of what can be very expensive product if only used once! Thanks for this reminder of what determination and patience can do…and it’s the perfect solution for the solid wood surface that you’re going to sand a bit anyways!
Good advice – always wear protective gear though, you can never be too careful when it comes to dealing with solvents.
The dangers of removing paint with a heat gun than using a water based paint remover. Using a heat gun produces fumes that can be highly toxic, especially if you are removing lead based paints.
Home Strip paint & varnish remover is a totally safe paint remover that will remove all types of coatings including lead based paints. This is a working wet system that encapsulates the lead.
What is the best technique to do legs and spindles, also the crevices in details?
I think I am going to have to look into this one for sure!
Will this work on milk paint?