We’ve selected our top rated products in 2020.
Top Rated Paint Stripper: Our Rating = 96%
- Methylene chloride free
- Non drip gel formula
- Non caustic
Best Cheap Paint Stripper: Still Does The Job
- Non-caustic dichloromethane-free gel
- Suitable for removing multiple coats of paints and...
- Works best when applied liberally
Paint Stripper Buying Guide 2020
Whether it’s an interior doorframe that’s become worn through use, or flaking paint on metal railings outside, at some point you will find yourself contemplating repainting something at home. And while it’s certainly tempting to just brush the loose paint away and slap some fresh over it, for a decent, lasting finish you’re going to want to remove all the old stuff.
While there are manual techniques such as heat guns and sanders available, they are not suitable for all treatments and can cause damage to the surface underneath. Chemical paint strippers allow you to work quickly, reach into corners and edges evenly, can be used for both varnish and paint, and don’t result in dust, gouges, or potential scorching. As a result, they’re the choice of many painters.
Paint strippers are divided into two categories, solvent and caustic.
Solvent paint strippers are effective on any sort of finish, and are ideal for use on wood. They reach right into the grain and can safely be used even on delicate antique furniture, as they won’t damage or discolour the wood. However, they don’t work well on heavy build-ups of paint or varnish, meaning you may have to work harder to get the paint off as well as using more product than you might with a caustic paint stripper. They produce a lot of fumes and must be used in a well-ventilated space, and can cause burns.
Caustic paint strippers are effective even on heavy build-ups of paint and varnish, are cheaper than solvent strippers, and usually work faster. There is a risk that caustic strippers may scorch wood, so they may not be suitable for use on anything delicate, or wood that is later going to be varnished rather than painted. They work well on plaster, stone and metal (although not all are suitable for aluminium). Although they give off less fumes than solvent paint strippers, they should still be used in a well ventilated space, and can cause burns.
Thick or thin?
While a thin solution is fine when you can lay your item on the ground, you may be working on vertical banisters or fences. In this case there are thicker products available, which won’t run quite so easily, and may be better suited for your needs.
Choosing your brand
When choosing your chemical paint stripper, be sure to check that it is suitable for the material you’re stripping. For instance, Ronseal has a product designed specifically for stripping wooden garden furniture and another for oiled decking, while Nitromors offers an all-purpose heavy-duty paint and varnish remover as well as one for more delicate items. You should find that your local DIY centre has a range of paint strippers suitable for your needs, and can offer advice on the best to choose.
All chemical paint strippers should be handled with caution and used in a well-ventilated location while wearing proper protective equipment. Follow the instructions provided, and make sure you know what paint or other treatment you’re dealing with. If there is a possibility that you are working with lead-based paint, seek further advice.