How To: Remove Paint from Metal

A job like stripping paint from metal is a marathon, not a sprint—and we have the training guide to get you to the finish line. Follow our instructions to bring your tired old painted metal pieces back to life again.

By Bob Vila and Jennifer Noonan | Updated Jan 4, 2021 10:41 AM

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How to Remove Paint from Metal - Furniture


“Just paint it!” That’s the motto for many DIYers when they’re unhappy with the lamp, dresser, doors, hardware… you name it. But if you’ve changed your mind more than a few times—or someone before you slapped on a sloppy paint job—several layers of paint can make any surface start to look all gummed up and unattractive. This holds true particularly for metal hardware and accessories.

Fortunately, while it’s not necessarily a fun job, removing paint from metal is completely doable if you have time, patience, and the right tools. And the shiny results are well worth the effort.

Project Summary

  1. Prep your work area and don protective gear.
  2. Apply paint stripper and wait.
  3. Remove paint stripper residue.
  4. Apply mineral spirits.
  5. Thoroughly clean the metal.

Continue reading for a full tutorial on how to remove paint from metal!

How to Remove Paint from Metal


How to Remove Paint from Metal - Painted Hardware


STEP 1: Prep the area and protect yourself.

Prepare the work area by covering the ground with drop cloths. If you want to save money on supplies, recycled newspapers or unfolded cardboard boxes can substitute as surface protection against the chemical stripper you’ll be using—just make sure not to leave any gaps between pieces.

It’s just as important to protect yourself, so don your rubber gloves, safety glasses, long-sleeved shirt, and pants to cover your skin completely. Then, avoid inhalation of fumes from the chemicals by opening all windows and wearing a respirator.

STEP 2: Apply paint stripper.

Pour a small amount of the stripper into a glass or metal can. Using a disposable paintbrush, apply the chemical paint stripper to the metal, and let it set according to the instructions on your commercial stripper. As it sets, you should start to see the paint bubble up from the surface of the metal.

STEP 3: Scrape the paint.

Take a paint scraper, and chip off the bubbled paint from all the flat surfaces of the metal. For crevices and harder-to-reach areas, switch to a scrubbing pad or nylon brush (you can use the one from Step 2, but first give it a good wash and trim the bristles short!) and continue to chip away. Reapply stripper and scrape or brush away again as needed until the whole piece is paint-free.

STEP 4: Apply mineral spirits.

Next, dampen a rag with mineral spirits and wipe the surface down. This will remove any leftover flakes of lifted paint and the bulk of the remaining chemical residue.

STEP 5: Clean the metal.

Thoroughly rinse off the metal with water to completely remove all traces of the stripper, then wipe it down using a fresh, dry rag. And with that, your newly cleaned metal is ready for use! Go ahead and screw hardware back into place, or set out those shiny, fresh-looking metal tables. If you’re looking to place a metal piece outdoors, now’s the best time to apply a weatherproofing sealant.