How to Strip Paint From Wood Trim

Protect the areas around wood trim before you remove the paint.
Protect the areas around wood trim before you remove the paint. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

The key to removing paint from wood trim is to work slowly and carefully and to properly prepare the area. Before you begin the paint-removal process, tape off the areas just above and below the wood trim with painter's tape. Lay plastic sheeting on the ground to protect the floor just below the wood trim. Once the area is physically protected, remove the wood trim's paint with a gel paint-remover solvent. Gel solvents minimize drips and remove the paint on the trim without spilling over to nearby paint on walls or other surfaces.

Things You'll Need

  • 2- to 2-1/2-inch square paintbrush
  • Rags
  • Plastic container
  • Gel paint-remover solvent
  • Neutralizing solvent (optional)
  • Paint scrubbing pad, #0000 steel wool or Brillo pad
  • Chemical-resistant glove
  • Dust mask

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Open the windows.

Put on your gloves and dust mask.

Pour a little of the paint remover into a plastic container.

Paint a thick layer of the paint-remover solvent onto the wood trim.

Leave the remover on the wood trim for the manufacturer-recommended amount of time (usually 15 to 30 minutes).

Wipe the bulk of the softened paint and remover off the wood trim with dry, clean rags.

Reapply the solvent to any large clumps or spots of paint that were not removed.

Coat the paint scrubber with the paint solvent. Rub any remaining paint off the wood trim, wiping with a clean rag as you go.

Wipe the wood trim with a clean rag moistened with water or the neutralizing solvent recommended by the paint-remover gel's manufacturer.


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