How to Remove Paint Off Metal Without Sanding


Many home metal repair projects are first begun by removing the old paint. In many cases, sanding is not an option due to the surface's location or the intricacy of its design. Two methods exist for paint removal that require no sanding: heat application and chemical stripping. Both methods have their pros and cons depending on the particular surface being worked upon. Fortunately, both methods can be easily performed by most people to a high degree of success by following a few simple steps. In most cases, the fastest results are obtained by using both methods for paint removal.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint removing heat gun
  • Eye protection
  • Extension cord
  • Paint stripper (waterless type)
  • Paint brushes (various sizes)
  • Paint scraper
  • Dry rags
  • Drop cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Prepare the material which will have the paint removed. Remove all screws, bolts and attachments as necessary so that you are just working with the metal. Wipe it off with a dry rag so that the old paint is clearly visible. Proper surface preparation in most cases takes longer than the actual paint removal, so be patient.

  • Place a drop cloth beneath the metal surface to catch all the old paint as it is removed. Put on your eye protection and plug in your heat gun.

  • Apply heat to the metal surface using the heat gun per the manufacturer's recommendations. Usually a slow, steady motion 6 inches from the metal is sufficient. Once the paint begins to blister and curl, use a paint scraper to gently scrape away the large pieces of rubbery paint. Paint should come off easily in big chunks.

  • Apply the heat gun treatment to all areas of the metal until paint no longer comes off easily. When most of the paint has been removed, allow the metal to cool to room temperature. Clean off the drop cloth and put it back into position again.

  • Apply paint stripper to the remaining painted areas per the product manufacturer's instructions. Apply several light coats using a paint brush. Allow the stripper to chemically react to the paint (which usually takes five minutes), then wipe it off with a rag using a firm, even motion. The paint should come free from the metal surface easily as it is wiped.

  • Repeat the paint stripper application and removal procedures several times until the surface is paint-free. Wipe down the entire surface carefully to remove any residual paint stripper. Dispose of the rags and drop cloth, or clean them well and store them for future use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint stripping chemicals come in a variety of forms including aerosol, liquid, gel and hard paste. Pick the product that best suits your application and follow the suggested instructions carefully.
  • Heat guns may damage some materials including ornamental glass, electrical connections, plastic moldings and fabrics. Use caution to avoid damaging items near the work surface.
  • Paint strippers are powerful chemicals which should not be allowed to come into contact with your skin or eyes.

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  • Photo Credit red painted hinge image by Tammy Mobley from
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