How to Use a Heat Gun to Remove Polyurethane

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Refinishing is a great way to add new life to a worn woodwork. There are many ways to remove polyurethane to prepare the surface for refinishing products. Chemical removers do a wonderful job of stripping the wood, however, they are highly toxic. Sanding is a safer method of removing old finishes, but it can be a very long and arduous process. Heat guns are a non-toxic, quick and effective way to remove polyurethane from woodwork. It requires a bit of finesse, however it is a job that can be tackled by the average handyman.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator mask
  • Heat gun
  • Paint scraper
  • Cover work area with a drop cloth.

  • Turn on heat gun and hold about three or four inches from the wood. Wave the heat gun back and forth across a small section.

  • Wait for polyurethane to start bubbling up off the wood surface.

  • Scrape bubbled polyurethane with a paint scraper.

  • If polyurethane remains stuck, reheat with the heat gun and repeat scraping process.

  • Continue with same technique until the entire piece is free from polyurethane.

  • Use a fine grit sand paper to remove any stubborn polyurethane. This will also help to prepare the surface for finishing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be very careful not to gouge the wood with the scraper.
  • Avoid holding the heat gun too close or you could burn the wood. In addition, be sure to keep the heat gun in constant motion.

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