How to Use a Heat Gun to Remove Polyurethane

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Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth

  • Safety glasses

  • Respirator mask

  • Heat gun

  • Paint scraper

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.


Step 1

Cover work area with a drop cloth.

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Step 2

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.

Step 3

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

Step 4

Scrape bubbled polyurethane with a paint scraper.

Step 5

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

Step 6

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

Step 7

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


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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