How to remove old paint from wood siding

Is the old layer of paint on your wood siding peeling, bubbling, cracking, or flaking off? Then it's time for a refresh. While we do recommend hiring a professional for such important home restoration tasks, with enough patience, discipline, and elbow grease, you can achieve near-professional-looking results by carefully following the steps outlined below. Remove unsightly worn-out paint with ease with these simple instructions.

While there are numerous methods to go about removing old paint from wood siding, such as scrapers, grinders, and chemicals, the fastest and easiest way to get the job done is to use an infrared heat paint stripper. An infrared heat paint stripper emits enough heat to soften paint without being hot enough to set the surface on fire, so it is one of the safest options available to DIY-ers who want to strip off old paint from wood siding themselves. You can usually purchase or rent an infrared heat paint stripper from a home improvement store nearby.

Without further ado, here's how to remove old paint from wood siding.

First, you will need to put a sturdy and steady scaffolding in place along the side of the house that you will be working on. The scaffolding should be a minimum of 12 inches away from the structure so that you have enough space to properly hold the infrared heat paint stripper against the wood siding. 

Since this tool relies on heat to soften the paint, you will need to set up a sturdy tarp to block any wind or breeze from blowing against the siding while you work on it. Set up this tarp barricade as well as the scaffolding mentioned above before you begin the job.

Now that you've got the tarp and scaffold in place, you can begin by lightly spraying or "spritzing" some water over the wood siding. We recommend dividing the siding into sections and working on them one-by-one for maximum efficiency - so only spray the intended area/section, and then use the infrared heat paint stripper on that section before moving on to the next.

Using the infrared heat paint stripper:

Firmly gripping the handle parallel to the siding, hold the heating coils against the wood. The paint will begin to bubble and soften in about 20-30 seconds. Now remove the infrared heat paint stripper and carefully use a pull scraper to scrape off the hot, softened paint from the wood siding.

Repeat this process over all the sections until you have completed the entire wall. You may find that some paint still remains on parts of the wall, but do not use the infrared heat paint stripper a second time, as you will need to treat the wood first.

Treating the wood before using the infrared heat paint stripper for a second time on the same surface:

Mix a solution of 20% mineral spirits with 80% boiled linseed oil and apply it all over the wood siding with a paintbrush. Allow this to sit on the wood siding overnight.

The next day, you can go over the wall again with your infrared heat paint stripper, following the same process of heating and scraping that you followed before. If there are still areas that have paint on them, you can easily rub them off with some medium steel wool, and you'll have totally paint-free wood siding!

Though laborious and time-consuming, the process is a simple one, and the instructions on how to remove old paint from wood siding are straightforward. Follow them to the letter, and you should be fine!


Here are some frequently asked questions.

What is an infrared paint remover?

The Speedheater uses infrared technology to gently heat and soften paint so that it can easily be scraped away using standard paint scraping tools. The benefit of using infrared heat as opposed to a heat gun is the lower temperature at which infrared heating is effective.

How hot do infrared heaters get?

Quartz tungsten infrared heaters emit medium wave energy reaching operating temperatures of up to 2732 °F (or 1500 °C - medium wave) and 4712°F (or 2600 °C - short wave). They reach operating temperature within seconds.

What temperature can you strip paint off wood?

To make the process easier, you can check out the ultimate hot air units for paint removal here. But, generally speaking, you need a gun that has a minimum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you strip paint from wood siding?

You can strip siding with grinders and scrapers or use chemicals to dissolve the paint, but the fastest and easiest way to remove the paint is to use an infrared heat paint stripper. This tool heats the paint quickly to loosen its bond to the wood and doesn't supply enough heat to pose a fire danger.

How do you remove paint from wood siding?

You can also use heat to remove exterior house paint. A heat gun or an infrared paint remover will heat up the paint, so it peels effortlessly away from the wood. This is an excellent technique if you want to avoid sanding after scraping paint or you don't want to use chemicals.

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