Category: Painting

How To: Remove Paint from Wood

Sure, it's messy and time-consuming, but removing paint from wood can be an extremely satisfying project. Follow our tutorial, and you'll be stripping paint like a pro.

How to Remove Paint


It can be mighty labor-intensive and time-consuming to remove paint, which is why many do-it-yourselfers dread the task, even avoiding projects that involve stripping away layers of old paint. That’s a shame, given that the results are so often worth the effort. Fortunately, by following the simple steps outlined below, you can successfully remove paint with minimal aggravation and without causing damage to the wood in the course of the paint-stripping process.

- Protective gloves
- Safety glasses
- Respirator
- Solvent-based paint stripper
- Bucket
- Paintbrush
- Scraper
- Wire brush
- Rags
- Sandpaper

Remove all hardware (nails and screws, brackets and doorknobs) from the wood you are going to work on. If there are any nonremovable parts made of anything other than wood, cover them with protective tape. Before you begin work, put on the safety gear that’s essential to wear in the presence of chemical paint strippers—that means gloves, glasses, and a respirator. Having closely consulted the manufacturer’s instructions, pour your chosen solvent-based paint stripper into an empty bucket.

Note: Always observe the proper safety precautions when dealing with paint strippers and take care to select the right product. Because caustic strippers are capable of changing the color of wood, many experts recommend instead the use of solvent-based strippers. These are readily available online and in local hardware stores.

How to Remove Paint - Detail


Concentrating on one small section at a time, liberally apply the paint stripper with a paintbrush. Leave the product on the wood for about 20 minutes, or until the paint starts to bubble and peel. Bear in mind that if you are removing several layers of paint, it may be necessary to let the solvent sit for up to a few hours. As time elapses, test the paint intermittently to see whether it has softened to any noticeable degree.

Use a paint scraper to take off as much paint as possible from the area where you applied the stripper. Be gentle as you scrape; don’t gouge the wood. Once you’ve removed all you can with the scraper, you may choose to repeat the process, reapplying stripper and going through the steps once more. Once you’re satisfied with the condition of the area you’ve been stripping, move on to the next section.

After you have worked section by section removing all the paint from the flat portions of the wood, it’s time to address any raised or recessed areas (for example, moldings). Spread the stripper on the wood again and wait at least 20 minutes, but this time scrape with a wire brush that can access those hard-to-reach crests and depressions. Take care not to scrape too hard, which can leave scratches on the wood.

Wash the wood with a clean, water-soaked rag, then sand down the entire surface. If you have access to a power sander, you can use it to make quicker work of sanding the broad, flat sections, but you should still manually sand any fragile or carved parts of the piece. Finally, wipe the wood free of dust and debris, and that’s it! You’re done.

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Wood Paneling

Rather than remove the wood paneling you no longer care for in your home, consider painting it to give the treatment an entirely new look at a low cost, with minimum hassle.

Wood paneling certainly has a place in the home. It can make a space feel traditional and warm, but it can also look dark and dated. If your paneling is getting you down, you could tear it out or hide it behind drywall. But if the paneling is in good shape, it may be quicker, cheaper, and easier to brighten it up with a few coats of paint. Here’s how.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING WOOD PANELING or read the text below:

Painted Wood Paneling


Start by washing the wood-paneled walls with a solution of TSP and water. Fill any nail holes, gouges, or other imperfections with spackle, let it dry, then sand. Now lightly sand the entire paneled area to scuff it up (don’t forget the trim and baseboards). Scuffing will help that first coat of primer adhere. Be sure to wear a dust mask and to wipe away the dust with a damp rag as you go.

Once the surface is sanded and dust-free, move on to priming. For best results, use a stain-blocking primer and plan on two coats.

Finish by applying your chosen paint. Put on two or three coats, lightly sanding between each one. For a smoother finish, opt for a foam sponge roller cover. Keep a paintbrush handy for cutting in at corners and wiping up drips. Then step back and admire the new, lighter view.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Garage Floors

Perhaps the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to make your garage less grim is by painting the concrete floor with either regular paint or epoxy.

Paint Garage Floor


Your garage may be your workshop, your storeroom, your potting shed or the place where you showcase your automotive pride and joy. Although you may have spent lots of time sprucing up your garage walls, windows, and doors, chances are you haven’t spent any time beautifying the floor. But the truth is, a little attention to the floor can go a long way to making your garage a more comfortable place.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING GARAGE FLOORS or read the text below:

If you have a plain concrete floor that’s relatively flat and level, the easiest way to spruce it up is by painting. A coat of floor paint is an instant upgrade—you can even stencil in a fun design, if you’re feeling ambitious. There are also epoxy coating kits that are great for hiding small imperfections, and you get to throw down a shower of color chips when you’re done to create the final confetti finish.

Before applying either paint or epoxy, you’ll want to be sure the floor is as clean and dry as possible. You may need to bleach or even use an etching compound to get the concrete ready for its new coat. Fill any cracks before you paint, and be sure to open windows and run a fan while you work to keep the garage well ventilated.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

The Right Way to Handle a Paintbrush

A little know-how goes a long way when it comes to painting. These simple tips will save you headaches and help you achieve professional results.

Paint Can Brush


Painting seems like a pretty straightforward task, so homeowners frequently choose to do it themselves in order to save a little money. But the entire process can turn into a big, frustrating mess if you don’t know a few simple techniques. Because that old saying “you can work hard or you can work smart” is particularly true for painting, we’re going to share a few professional tips and techniques from HYDE Tools on the right way to handle a paintbrush.

Start small—You may think that a bigger brush will save you time and you may be right in theory, but you’ll have much more control with a smaller brush. Start with a 1½-inch angled brush until you master the techniques, then work your way up if you like.

Go for quality—When shopping for brushes, you’ll notice a wide range of prices. It’s tempting to buy a cheap brush because you can’t really tell the difference in the store, but trust us on this—you get what you pay for. Buy the most expensive brush you can afford; you won’t regret it. And before you start painting with your new brush, be sure to prepare it properly.

Choke up on the brush—In baseball, to “choke up” on the bat simply means to move your hands closer to where the bat contacts the ball, which increases accuracy. The same idea applies with your brush: You will have more control if you move your hand as close to the bristles as possible without actually touching them. With your hand closer to the action, you’ll achieve a more accurate stroke.

Flatten out the brush—When cutting in to make a clean, straight line, gently push the brush down onto the surface a short distance away from where you want the edge, then work your way over to the line. The pressure will help your hand remain steady and distribute the paint more evenly. Make sure you have enough paint on the brush to enable you to push a very small bead of paint down the line.

Hyde Tools Painter's Assistant

HYDE® Painter's Assistant

Don’t use a full can of paint—When you’re painting a room, pour three-quarters of the can into your roller tray. Use that small amount of paint still in the can to cut in the walls to the ceiling. This will keep you from dipping the brush too far into the paint and making a mess on your hands and the stock of the brush. For small jobs, there’s no need to paint out of a full can, so consider the HYDE Painter’s Assistant, which serves as a convenient carrying handle for one- and two-quart containers and also functions as a magnetized paintbrush holder and paint-can opener; putty knife, brush and roller cleaner; and belt hook.

Don’t wipe the paint off—Most people instinctively wipe the brush on the side of the can after it’s been dipped in the paint. Resist the temptation! While you don’t want your brush dripping with paint, you also don’t want to wipe most of it off. Instead of wiping the brush, lightly slap it a few times on the inside of the can like you’re ringing a bell. See the HYDE video below on how to properly load a brush.

Breathe through the stroke—This may seem hokey at first, but a steady hand requires oxygen—it’s a physiological fact. Many people have a tendency to hold their breath when they are concentrating, but this can work against you. Ask anyone who is good at pool, darts, archery, or anything else that requires a steady hand and they’ll tell you that breathing is crucial.

Don’t gunk it up—If you want your brush to perform optimally, you have to keep it free of excess paint. The best way to avoid gunk-up is to use only the first inch or two of the brush.

If you apply these tips and techniques consistently, your painting skills will improve and your overall experience will be much more rewarding, as will the results. For more instructional paint tutorials, click here. I guess you could say that following these tips will give you an “edge” the next time you grab a paintbrush!

This post has been brought to you by HYDE®. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Raw Wood

Painting raw wood? Even before applying primer, there are a few steps you should take at the outset to ensure professional-level results in the end.

You probably know that bare, raw wood needs to be primed before it’s painted. For best results, though, there are a few steps that you should take care of even before you start priming.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING RAW WOOD or read the text below:

Paint Raw Wood


First, check all surfaces for finish nails—even though they are headless, they should be countersunk using a small nailset to be sure they are completely below the surface. Fill all those nail holes, as well as any other imperfections, with wood filler. When the wood filler has completely dried, sand it smooth using fine-grit sandpaper.

Next, you’ll want to fill in any gaps and seams with caulk. Anywhere two pieces of wood butt against each other should be caulked, so that your finished product will appear seamless. Smooth out the caulk with your fingers or with a damp rag, being sure to remove all the excess.

Finally, if the wood has any visible knots, seal them with clear shellac so that the sticky resins inside the wood can’t seep out through the knot and ruin your paint job. When everything is sealed, caulked, and dry, run some fine-grain sandpaper over it all one more time, then start priming. You’ll be amazed at how these few simple steps in the beginning really pay off in the end.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

How To: Paint Stripes on a Wall

Depending on the colors and pattern you choose, walls with painted stripes can be playful, formal, or cheerful—but whatever their decorative effect, they're an inexpensive and not-too-difficult way to add character to a room. Here's how.

How to Paint Stripes on a Wall


Painted stripes can be bold or subtle, identical or varied in size, horizontal or vertical. But no matter what design you choose, painted stripes pack a decorative punch that greatly exceeds the low cost of their creation. Although it’s important to approach the project with a detailed plan, it’s about as easy to paint stripes on a wall as it is to complete any other basic painting project in the home. Follow these steps to achieve best results.

- Cloth or sponge
- Water and dishwashing liquid
- Measuring tape
- Paint and paint tray
- Paintbrush and roller
- Ruler (the longer the better)
- Level
- Pencil
- Painter’s tape
- Ladder

Begin by applying painter’s tape to all trim around windows and doors, and along the ceiling and floor. Indeed, protect anything you don’t want to paint. Once you have finished, proceed to clean the walls thoroughly using either a cloth or sponge dampened with water and dabbed with mild dishwashing liquid.

Decide on a width and color (or some combination of colors) for the stripes, and whether they will run up and down or side to side. Next, measure the surface area of the wall or walls to be painted; that should give you some indication of how many stripes of the desired width and orientation you’ll need to fill the space.

You might find it very helpful to draw the wall or walls as closely to scale as possible. Map your tentative design onto the paper, tweaking the width and/or number of stripes as you go until you have struck upon the ideal scheme. Remember that it’s fine for the top and bottom stripes (in a horizontal design) or the left- and rightmost stripes (in a vertical design) to differ in width from the rest of the stripes; skilled professionals often do the same thing.

With a pencil, faintly mark the position on the wall where the top and bottom (for horizontal stripes) or left and right side (for vertical) of each stripe should go. Then use a level and the longest ruler you own to extend those lines over the surface to be painted. As it can be difficult to juggle three tools simultaneously, it’s wise to enlist a helper, if possible.

How to Paint Stripes on a Wall - Taping


Adhere the painter’s tape along the pencil line, obscuring all the areas you plan to leave unpainted or intend to paint at a later stage. Do this carefully, or you’ll end up with jagged edges. Consider using a burnisher or even a credit card to flatten the tape as you place it as firmly as you can on the wall.

For thin stripes, use a paintbrush; for thicker stripes, use a small roller. In either case, it aids accuracy to hold a perfectly straight implement, such as a ruler, to the very edge of the section of tape nearest to where you are painting. Should any paint get on the straightedge, that’s fine—after all, it’s there as a safeguard, but the idea is to coat the wall, not the guide tool. Continue working in sections until you have finished painting stripes on each wall that you set out to decorate.

Allow about an hour of dry time, then apply the second coat. Having done that, wait several hours before carefully removing the tape. The paint should still be slightly wet; that’s actually what you want. If you peel back the tape when it’s completely dry, the paint may come off in flakes, leaving you to start over on Step 1!

How To: Strip Paint from Antique Woodwork

It's no easy feat to strip paint from antique woodwork. The task involves great care, but the stunning result very often makes the effort worthwhile.

If you have an old house, some paint stripping projects require extra care. Antique woodwork can include applied details made of an animal glue compound that will melt if you use a heat gun. Instead, gently apply a chemical stripper and use suction and dental tools to carefully remove layers of old paint.

For more on paint, consider:

Paint Stripping Tools
Quick Tip: Stripping Paint
Bob Vila Radio: Paint Stripping Tips

Antiquing vs. Distressing: 8 Tips on Creating the Look and Patina of a Genuine Antique

Celebrated DIY style maker, home blogger, milk paint purveyor, author, and photographer Marian Parsons—aka Miss Mustard Seed—gives advice on antiquing and distressing furniture.

Photo: Miss Mustard Seed

Marian Parsons—mother, wife, and creative soul—was crushing on hand-painted antique European furniture. She coveted the timeworn look but couldn’t rationalize the price or preciousness, especially with two active little boys in the house. Parsons had no choice but to replicate the look herself. She studied antiques, consulted an assortment of how-to books, and played around with paint and such, eventually honing her refinishing skills and garnering much fanfare. She took to blogging about her crafty escapades under the name Miss Mustard Seed, along the way creating a hot business and brand as she transformed furnishings into exquisite reinterpretations of their former selves. Here, Parsons discusses the differences between antiquing and distressing furniture, and gives tips on how to arrive at a new finish that looks old.

Photo: Miss Mustard Seed

Antiquing vs. Distressing
Antiquing and distressing are both used to simulate age and they’re often used in conjunction, but they are distinctly different painting techniques. When antiquing furniture, you add layers of paint and stain to achieve a grunge patina, whereas when you distress it, you remove the finish to simulate years of wear. Parsons urges anyone who is contemplating trying these techniques to first study genuine antiques and note where the paint has worn away or become distressed from handling and where the finish has become dark and antiqued from the accumulation of dirt over the years.

Choosing a Piece
When choosing a piece to refinish, Parsons considers style, price, and condition. She is drawn to the Empire, American Farmhouse, and French Provincial styles, and she looks for solid wood furniture with details such as serpentine drawers, beading, and turned legs that give a piece character and afford opportunity to play with the painted finish. Her basic rule is, “Buy what you love, but not something that is beyond your ability to repair…unless it is so cheap you have little to lose.”

Prepped to Paint
The most important prep step is sanding, although Parsons rarely spends more than five minutes on it. “You don’t want to scratch the piece, but rather rough it up enough to help with adhesion,” she says, recommending medium-grit sandpaper, such as 100, for the job.

Photo: Miss Mustard Seed

Create a Story
When you antique and distress furniture, you are essentially telling a fictional history. To create a piece that looks like an original, think about how it might have been used. As a general guideline, distress the high points that would frequently have been handled and bumped, and antique the low points or crevices where dust would have settled. Parsons warns, “Paint generally doesn’t wear away smack in the center of a drawer front. It wears away around the edges and handles.”

Type of Paint
Parsons has used many paint products and finds that milk paint, along with small bottles of craft store acrylic paints for decorative detailing, meets her furniture refurbishing needs. She loves that milk paint is natural, has a long shelf life, “soaks in like stain but looks like paint,” and dries matte. Parsons also likes that she can mix just the amount of milk paint needed for a particular project and can regulate the desired opacity. Milk paint, however, can be temperamental. She offers plenty of tutorials for the milk paint novice.

The Layered Look
To re-create the look of a beautiful antique that has been repainted over the years, Parsons employs a repertoire of resist methods, techniques that use Vaseline, beeswax, or hemp oil to prevent the second coat from adhering and permit the bottom layer to show through. Sanding with medium and then fine sandpaper will add to the patina.

Related: The Perfect Paint Brush—and How to Choose It

Photo: Miss Mustard Seed

Brush Basics
Parsons could not paint furniture without a nylon bristle Purdy 2-inch angled sash brush. The size and shape allow her to cut in neatly. For waxing she likes a big, bushy natural bristle brush that she can work into the deep carved crannies. A soft cloth is also handy for applying a wax top coat.

Finishing Touches
Wax and oil protect the painted finish. “Each time you add a top coat to milk paint, you will see a difference in the color and vitality of a piece,” says Parsons, who almost always applies one coat of hemp oil to a finished piece, adding layers for more sheen if desired. In addition, white wax (for liming), furniture wax (for butter-soft texture), and brown wax (for antiquing) deliver specific effects. As for hardware, Parsons salvages the original stuff but has no allegiance to tacky reproduction brass. Similar to the process of looking for the perfect earrings, Parsons often tries several knobs before making a decision, and when Hobby Lobby’s glass knobs are on sale, she always buys extras.


If you're looking for a way to brighten a room or revive an old piece of furniture, a whitewashed finish may be just the thing. Follow this simple how-to for best results.

Whitewashing - Furniture


In contrast to a regular paint job, whitewashing refreshes the look of wood surfaces while allowing their natural grain to show through. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but in dark or sterile-seeming rooms, the light color and pleasingly imperfect aesthetic of whitewashing can make the space appear larger, friendlier, and more comfortably lived-in. Although its results are out of the ordinary, whitewashing differs only slightly from run-of-the-mill painting. Here’s how it’s done!

- Sandpaper (or power sander)
- Broom and/or vacuum
- Cloth
- White paint
- Paint thinner
- Paintbrush
- Polyurethane sealer

Whitewashing works best on raw wood. That being the case, it’s critical that you remove as much of any existing finish—be it paint, stain, or varnish—as possible. Do so by thoroughly sanding the surface you intend to whitewash. Sanding by hand is one option, but it’s far quicker and easier to opt for a power sander. (If you don’t own one, you can rent one from your local home improvement center.) Before continuing on to the next step, it’s important to clear all sawdust and debris created in the course of sanding. Sweep or vacuum the area, if appropriate; otherwise, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean.

Whitewashing - Paneling


Now formulate the whitewash. Rest assured there’s no complicated recipe to follow; rather, making whitewash is a simple matter of diluting regular white paint. Dilute water-based white paint with water and dilute oil-based white paint with turpentine. The precise ratio of paint to thinner depends on the look you wish to achieve. For thicker coverage, use a mixture of two parts paint to one part thinner. Reverse that ratio if you’d prefer a thinner application. Before you whitewash the entire surface, first experiment with the mixture in an inconspicuous spot. Be sure you like the way that it looks before committing. After all, it’s easy to add coverage but more challenging to take it away.

Apply the whitewash with a paintbrush, using long strokes in the direction of the wood grain. Because the finish dries quickly, it’s wise to complete one small section at a time. Should you prefer the wood grain to show through more than it does, use a cloth to wipe away excess whitewash before it has the chance to dry completely. Doing this should result in an attractive, washed-out look.

Let the first coat dry completely, then determine whether a second or third coat is desired. So long as the whitewash is dry (allow several hours), you can use fine-grit sandpaper to play down any coverage that you think seems thicker than ideal.

Bring the project to completion by coating it with a clear polyurethane sealer, applied with a brush as evenly as possible over the surface. Once sealed, your whitewashing should remain looking fresh for years to come.

How To: Spackle Exterior Siding

Repainting your house? To ensure a smooth finish, spackle exterior siding wherever deep scratches and gouges appear in the wood.

When you’re repainting your house, here’s how to restore that smooth, original finish. After you’ve removed all loose paint and sealed the surface with a latex primer, use a water-based exterior-grade spackle to fill in the rough areas that remain. With a four-inch putty knife, spread an even layer of spackle and smooth it out. When it’s dry, lightly sand it and apply a second coat the same way, if necessary. When the surface is perfectly smooth, apply your finish coat.

For more on painting, consider:

Exterior Paint 101
Bob Vila Radio: Exterior Painting Prep
Exterior Painting Preparation (VIDEO)