How to Remove Dried Latex Paint From Metal

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(Image: Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Latex paint may be water based, but once it’s dried, it can be as difficult to remove as any oil-based paint. While you can remove any paint with friction and force, doing so can damage the painted surface. Removing dried latex paint from a metal surface without harming the surface is possible with a specially formulated latex paint remover. Once applied, the remover breaks down the paint, destroying the bond with the metal surface so you can scrape off the paint with a plastic scraper, causing no damage to the metal beneath.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Dropcloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Chemical painter stripper for metal
  • Plastic scraper
  • Nylon brush
  • Rags
  • Mineral spirits
  • Liquid soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator
  • Safety goggles

Mask off the area where you intend to strip the paint by placing 2-inch-wide masking tape along the perimeter. The tape will prevent the paint stripper from affecting any adjacent areas.

Spread a dropcloth onto the floor at the base of the metal to keep spills away from flooring. Tape down the edges of the cloth to hold it in place.

Put on rubber gloves, a respirator, and safety goggles to prevent injury from the stripper chemicals. Pour the paint stripper into a small bowl, and then brush it onto the dried latex paint. Apply the stripper liberally, but without pooling on the material. Allow the stripper to sit on the paint for the amount of time recommended by the stripper manufacturer.

Use the plastic scraper to scrape away the latex paint along with the stripper. Work in broad strokes across the metal, allowing the paint to fall to the cloth at the base of the metal.

Use a nylon brush to remove the paint from hard-to-reach or contoured areas. Brush in vigorous back-and-forth strokes to flake the paint free of the metal.

Dip a cloth in mineral spirits, and use the dampened cloth to remove any spots left from the stripper.

After the paint removal, clean the surface with a mixture of warm water and 1/4 tsp. liquid soap. Wipe the area down with damp rags, changing the rags often to wash away any of the stripper residue. Go over the area a second time with water only to rinse off the soap, and then pat the metal dry with rags.

Tips & Warnings

  • To prevent the paint stripper from drying too quickly on the paint in high temperatures, cover the stripper with plastic wrap during the drying period to extend the drying time.

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