As a woman with a ‘DIY’ mindset, I thought I had painted and removed paint in just about every way possible. I have enjoyed the beautiful results of faux painting that I completed myself. And have endured the labor intensive after-effects of having to strip said paint from the walls years later. It was not until recently, however, that I was introduced to paint stripping with heat. I would describe the process as ‘amazing’. Talk about a time saver! Applying heat to several layers of old paint makes the job of paint stripping a breeze. But this is not a process that can be used for just any paint job.
If you are planning to paint over one or two layers of old paint, there is simply no need to strip it. You can absolutely paint right over that other paint! You will only have to strip paint with a heat gun if you are working with a surface that has been painted multiple times, or are going over paint that is extremely old and brittle. For example, if you have purchased a very old home and can see that you’re working with 20 – 30 years of paint, you will benefit from the use of a heat gun. The heat gun will work to remove old paint, varnish, and topcoats by heating up the substances and making them easy to scrape off.
Supplies needed to strip paint with a heat gun:
- Heat gun
- Metal putty knife
- Aluminum foil
- Drop cloth or newspaper
- Scrapers of assorted sizes and shapes
- Protective work gloves and goggles
How to strip paint with a heat gun:
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to make a heat shield. This can be made from a piece of cardboard and aluminum foil. Cut the cardboard roughly 8″ x 12″ and cover it completely with aluminum foil. This will be used to shield the area surrounding where the heat gun will be aimed. It will protect the paint you want to keep in place from blistering and becoming damaged.
Step 1 – Use a metal putty knife to scrape off any loose paint before beginning. Before you begin using the heat gun, lay a drop cloth or newspaper beneath your work area to catch any loose debris.
Step 2 – Hold the heat gun about 2″ away from the surface and turn it on low. Position your heat shield where necessary to protect any paint you don’t want to damage. Then, move the gun slowly in a circular motion. It can take a minute until the heat gun heats enough to begin blistering the paint, but you’ll see it begin to bubble up in front of you. If the paint does not begin to blister, increase the heat output to medium or high, depending on your heat gun settings. Keep the heat gun moving to prevent scorching the wood!!! This is very important. Do not let the heat gun rest in one area for very long.
Step 3 – When the paint begins to blister, take your metal putty knife and press it against the surface. Push the putty knife so that it follows the path of the heat gun. You’ll see that the paint slides off the surface. Discard the debris in the trashcan as you go.
Step 4 – As you strip paint with a heat gun, you may run into a few areas that are difficult to remove. You can try either applying a bit more heat to that concentrated area, or wait and use a chemical to strip the paint in that particular spot later on.
If you will be stripping paint with a heat gun on uneven areas, such as molding, you will need to use specialty scrapers to gain access to the small grooves. Be very careful not to scorch these delicate areas, and be mindful of scraping too much, as you can destroy the detail in the molding itself. I found a flathead screwdriver very helpful for this process.
After you’ve finished, wipe the entire surface down with a soft cloth. You’ll want to give the entire area a light sanding to ensure all paint debris are removed. Moreover, a chemical solvent may also be required to remove stubborn paint remnants.