How to Remove Exterior Paint

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If spring is approaching and you have a list of outdoor projects, perhaps painting the house is on that list. For the best results, remove the paint already on the house first. In some cases, there may be layers of paint. Removing exterior paint can be time-consuming and messy, but you'll be happy you did once you see how much better the house looks afterwards.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Bleach
  • Paint scraper or putty knife
  • Sandpaper 36 to 80 grit
  • Belt sander
  • Power washer
  • Paint remover
  • Heat gun
  • Wash the surface with a 3-to-1 ratio mix of water and bleach. Wash from the bottom up. Wash off and then let dry.

  • Scrape the layers of paint off with a paint scraper. Make sure you sharpen the blade before you do this. Apply even pressure, and scrape in one direction to best remove exterior paint from wood or smooth masonry surfaces. You can also use a wire brush to remove layers of paint.

  • Sand surface with a 36 to 80 grit sandpaper after scraping. You can use an electric belt sander for this.

  • Use a power washer to remove old exterior paint from surface. A high-pressure plain water spray can remove layers of old, loose paint effectively. Spray at a horizontal or downward angle. Refrain from using this method on soft woods.

  • Apply a strong, solvent-based paint remover. Work in small areas, about 2 to 3 feet at a time, and apply remover with a paint brush. Follow manufacturer instructions regarding setting time, and scrape paint off once you have softened it.

  • Melt paint using a heat gun. Spray a mist of water with a garden hose over the area where exterior paint is to be removed. Once paint has bubbled up and softened, use a scraper or putty knife to remove.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place hot, softened layers of paint in a metal disposable container when using a heat gun.
  • Wear goggles, mask and chemical-resistant gloves when applying paint remover.
  • Do not use a belt sander on sand masonry, aluminum, plastic or hardboard surfaces.
  • Do not use paint remover on overhead spots such as porch ceilings.
  • Have a garden hose handy when using a heat gun, in the event of a fire.

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