Learn how to remove paint from wood– the easy way. While I’ve used sandpaper and sanders, the heat gun makes this job WAY more satisfying and easy!
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While I’ve certainly sanded paint off furniture, I don’t recommend the method. It’s SO SLOW and dusty. I have asthma and find the whole process brutal.
I’ve heard about using a heat gun to remove paint, but this was my first time actually trying it. Typically I just sand until my arms are shaking… usually using an electric sander of some type, and usually the wrong type of sandpaper.
This made a HUGE difference. It was fast and easy to remove the paint. I was amazed.
How to Remove Paint from Wood Furniture with a Heat Gun
Now I know some people used chemicals to strip paint, but I’m asthmatic and prefer to avoid chemicals when possible. I also tend to be sloppy about painting and I didn’t want to ruin the bottom finish of the desk.
The heat gun did a great job, although I did some light sanding at the end as well.
- Paint scraper
- Heat Gun
- Microfiber cleaning gloves
- Drop cloth (or scrap cardboard to protect your floor)
- Mask for protecting your lungs when you’re painting and sanding: I use this respirator which I LOVE.
- Heat resistant gloves
- Sander: I used a belt sander with a cord. I highly recommend the cordless ones though, like this cordless belt sander from Ryobi. I seem to get my cords in the way a lot so I really need to upgrade mine.
Here’s a video of the paint being removed:
I began by removing the Lego plate that was on the desk top prior… it came off with a tiny bit of heat from the heat gun. The heat helps loosen the adhesive, but heat guns are HOT so don’t melt your Lego plate! I used the paint scraper to try to get under the plate and separate it from the top of the desk.
Once that was out of the way, I started applying the heat gun to the top of the wood. When the paint gets hot, it starts to bubble. At that point you can use your scraper to scrape the paint away from the wood. Move in the direction of the wood grain and try to avoid scratching the wood.
This takes time so just patiently continue to work on the desk top. I needed to take breaks for my tools to cool off. Gloves that will protect your hands from heat are very useful.
You can see the bubbling in this photo below a bit… that’s a good sign it’s hot enough to scrape off.
Once the paint was scraped off, there was still a bit of residue left. I used my belt sander to sand in the direction of the grain of the wood. An 80-120 grit sandpaper can remove any goo, but don’t remove too much of your desk top… you only want to remove anything extra stuck to the top. You’ll want a finer grade sandpaper for finishing up the top (150+).
After the top is sanded smooth, you should wipe off any dust using a cloth or, my personal favorite, microfiber cleaning gloves. They pick up the dust really nicely for these projects (I normally hate microfiber).
If you want to check out some before and after photos, I have lots of progression photos from the original desk to the Lego desk to this final desk on my post: How to DIY a Lego Desk.
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