Paint removal is the first step to giving your furniture or home furnishings new life. Before you can brush on that new coat of paint, however, an effective paint stripper is needed to slough off those old layers.
The most effective ways of paint stripping typically involve the use of a chemical paint stripper or heat gun. If you are looking for the best paint stripper, my buying guide offers you a look at some of these paint strippers on the market, so you can better evaluate your options.
All paint strippers compared, the Black+Decker KX1650-GB Heat Gun is a product that boasts all-rounded performance and fulfills its duties exceptionally. This is a powerful paint stripper that offers advanced heat control depending on the application and is perfectly suited for various household and DIY applications with multiple layers to remove.
If you need to remove a paint strip that spans a large area, this is a definite leg-up from your conventional paint stripper. It is the best paint stripper and a remarkably efficient solution that gets the job done quickly.
- Comes in two adjustable heat settings (460 and 600 degrees Celsius) and airflow settings (570 and 740 litres per minute), designed to give you more control when removing paint.
- Typical of best paint strippers, it boasts exceptional power of 1750W that makes tackling multiple layers of paint quick and easy.
- Intuitive controls for easy use.
- Features an ergonomic grip that allows for easy manoeuvrability.
- Heats up quickly and has minimal odour.
- Built-in stand allows hands-free operation and cooling.
- Comes with an attached 2-metre cable.
- Appropriate precautions should be taken during use, as it can be a fire and health hazard.
- Does not come with attachments or accessories such as interchangeable nozzles.
The standout feature of this chemical paint stripper is hands down its formula. Its green coloration indicates where the product has been applied, while the gel consistency of this product makes it an ingenious solution for use on wood metal vertical surfaces. That said, the quality of this product is average at best and hardly lives up to expectations in terms of its performance.
- Suitable for all-purpose use on a variety of surfaces, including wood metal, masonry, and metal features.
- Doubles as a varnish remover.
- Features a unique green color indicator that makes it easy to see where it’s been applied.
- Its non-drip gel formula makes it suitable for application on vertical surfaces, such as doors, stairs spindles, and window frames.
- Improved paint remover formula that allows for faster blistering of paint.
- Water or solvent washable, making it convenient to apply and remove.
- What is advertised is not true to actual coverage – in reality, coverage is lower than 2.5m² per litre.
- Not a deep-searching product; multiple applications are needed to achieve a decent paint removal result.
- Not the most efficient, as it can take up to several hours to penetrate deep layers of paint.
Best for Hobbyists
ThePolycell MSPS500 500ml Maximum Strength Paint Stripper is a great budget product for hobbyists and DIY-ers who strip paint and varnish but are not looking to fork out too much. It is the best paint removal solution for those looking for an affordably priced product.
- Affordable price point.
- Doubles as a varnish remover.
- Specially formulated for use on wood metal surfaces, the method of action of this paint stripper is very gentle. It only reacts with paint layers and leaves surfaces undamaged.
- Works best for paint that has not been applied over an undercoat.
- The stripper reduces paint to a layer of film as it is sloughed off. Removal is fairly easy and can be done with a regular putty knife.
- The paint is unlikely to budge without generous layers of this paint stripper, so you may need multiple coats to achieve a satisfactory result.
- Being advertised as a ‘maximum strength’ product is misleading, as this paint stripper only does a regular job of removing paint.
- The performance of this paint stripper drops on water-based paints.
Best for Garden Jobs
Of all the paint strippers, this one is great for garden furniture but won’t give you too much flexibility of use in terms of stripping paint and varnish. In terms of performance, this product presents problems that are typical of average quality chemical paint removers on wood metal, and the cost of your project can quickly rise if you are using it for a large job.
- Works well at stripping away any stains, oils, or paints present on garden furniture.
- Not the most efficient, as it can take up to several hours to penetrate and remove deep layers of paint.
- Cost of your project can quickly rise with the substantial amount needed to complete a large paint removal job.
When faced with these choices, things can still seem a little mind-boggling if you are new to home repair. The following can hopefully clue you in on some important considerations when purchasing your paint stripper.
Should I Use a Chemical Stripper or a Heat Gun?
Paint, finishes, and coatings can be removed using a chemical stripper or a heat gun. Some alternatives to strip paint include pressure washing or sanding the paint – these are more economical options compared to using a chemical stripper or a heat gun but tend to be the most time-consuming. Sanding paint is best used for detail and not general projects, such as getting off any paint that remains after you have done the bulk of the work.
Now, let’s turn to focus on chemical strippers versus heat guns. With a heat gun, you can strip paint effectively and with considerably less mess. If there are thick layers of paint to remove and you need to push heat deep into recesses, you can get exceptional results with a heat gun.
From my observations with chemical strippers, results can hugely vary depending on the number and thickness of the layers you apply. Some coats also yield easily whereas others put up more of a fight, and these paint strippers need to penetrate the layers of old paint to work effectively.
As with all multi-layer paint jobs, this makes things somewhat of a gamble when working with chemical strippers, as you can get variable results in terms of the time and effort needed to strip any given surface.
A major plus of heat guns is that they are much easier to clean up after a stripping paint job. The residue that is left behind by chemical paint strippers is rarely a pleasant sight. The stripped paint solidifies into crispy flakes, which can be easily swept or vacuumed, unlike the messy slime you get from chemical strippers.
What is the Best Way to Use a Paint Stripper?
Paint removal works best for thick layers on top of paint varnish; the paint varnish acts as a releasing agent. Heat is not recommended for removing shellac or paint varnish – in these cases, use chemical paint strippers as a varnish stripper instead. Heat tools remove about 98% of the paint; a one-coat clean-up with chemical paint remover can take off the rest. Heat guns are also best suited for oil or latex-based paint finishes.
Heat tools soften paint so you can remove it by scraping with a putty knife. With a little practice, you can lift up and remove long strips of paint in one continuous motion. Ideally, you should experiment with your desired nozzle before commencing the paint removal job. The wide-flare nozzle is for most paint-removing jobs, while the smaller, round nozzle is ideal for localizing heat over a specific area to remove paint.
When working with a heat gun, timing is imperative. If you allow the softened paint to cool, it can harden again, while some paints may catch fire or become even harder if the heat continues to be applied after the paint blisters.
Scraping the paint off takes some practice using this method. With some practice, you get better at familiarizing yourself with the appropriate timing for easiest scraping. You should be able to keep the heat gun moving steadily ahead with a consistent back-and-forth motion that distributes the heat evenly across the area in front of the scraper, without holding the nozzle of the heat gun in one place for too long.
If you are going ahead with a chemical paint remover, these work best with a thick application that covers the entirety of the surface. If the layer is too thin, the paint stripper can quickly dry out and stop working, so gun for a thickness of minimally an eighth of one inch.
As mentioned elsewhere in this buying guide, both the Polycell MSPS500 and the Nitromors All Purpose Paint and Varnish Remover have been shown to demonstrate inconsistent and hugely variable results. If you are looking for precise results, these paint strippers won’t give you a ton of control, and you may be better off using a heat gun.
When using both types of paint stripper, minimize any health and safety risks to yourself by putting on the necessary protective gear such as thick gloves, covered footwear, and goggles.
What are Some Considerations When Buying a Paint Stripper?
The temperature control and air flow settings available, as well as the nozzle shape, are the two key features of a paint stripper that make or break a paint removal job.
All heat guns have a similar mechanism and purpose, that is to pull air in and over a heating element, and then force it out through a nozzle to remove paint. This means that the temperature control, airflow, and shape of nozzle determine the kinds of jobs you can carry out with a paint stripper – temperature range for the type of materials that can be worked on, airflow for the size of the area covered, and the nozzle shape for the concentration of air released.
For stripping paint specifically, a temperature setting of 932 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius, has been found to work best. For the purpose of removing old paint, cone or reflector nozzles are also good for concentrating and focusing heat for precise control, while flat nozzles spread heat over a wide area.
Which is the Best Heat Gun?
You can toggle between two temperature settings (460 and 600 degrees Celsius), of which the lower temperature is typically sufficient for tackling several coatings of paint quickly. My biggest gripe with it is its lack of any interchangeable nozzles or attachments. The nozzle is considerably large for stripping smaller areas so a lot of heat may fan out and hit areas where you might not want to strip.
The Einhell TH-HA 2000 fares well on the versatility front but falls short on major aspects. It touts the full range of four interchangeable nozzles, including a heat nozzle, wide nozzle, reducer nozzle, and reflector nozzle.
However, it is less of a reputable brand compared to Black+Decker, with the latter being known for being a popular manufacturer of professional and residential use power tools. In stark comparison, the former product lacks sorely in its reliability. It has been known to have issues with its plating and heating element, and these are problems you are unlikely to get with the Black+Decker KX1650-GB.
All things considered, the Black+Decker KX1650-GB Heat Gun is your best bet of all the paint removers. This product comes fit for purpose and is a quality heat gun that gets the job done with minimum fuss. Keep in mind that lack of accessories is a major negative here, and you may need to purchase these attachments separately.
That said, it retains its all-purpose functionality around the house. Defrosting, thawing frozen water pipes, loosening rusted nuts, separating glued objects, and softening materials are just some examples of this heat gun’s applications, so you can definitely get some flexibility of use with it.
Having gotten to the end, it is time for a final round-up. These may not be all the best paint strippers out there, only those that I have tried in my home renewal journey. If you want to eliminate all the hassle that typically comes with home renewal, this gadget can save you precious time and effort, and give you your desired effects. Don’t take my word for it, go ahead and give this best paint stripper ago.