Best Paint Stripper for Concrete, Brick, Wood & Metal

When drastically changing paint colors, most people would remove the old stuff from the surface first and then reapply new. However, different surfaces require different methods. Choosing the best paint stripper for specific surfaces is important, like wood, concrete, masonry, and brick.

Choosing the right type ensures that paint is removed easily and will not damage the surface or material it is applied to. Some use strong chemicals that may work great with specific surfaces but are ineffective on others.

paint remover

Maybe you still have some leftover material that you used effectively for acrylic paint that was accidentally spilled all over your furniture. You may not get the same results when using it on your deck. You need to know which one to use for the specific surface you will be working on.

If this already sounds tedious to you, don’t worry because we are here to help you out. We will guide you on picking the right kind for your needs.

Choosing the Best One

When choosing the best paint stripper, people immediately think that using liquid removers is the only way. They also believe these products are all just the same. Many mistakenly just grab the first can they see on the shelf and hope it will do the job.

They may hit the jackpot and get the right one that works effectively without affecting the painted surface. There is also an equal chance that it will not easily remove the paint or even cause damage to whatever surface it is applied on.

Before you make the same mistake as others did, familiarize yourself with the different ways to help you choose the most appropriate one. Removal on any surface is generally done in two ways: through chemical ones in liquid form and via non-chemical means.

Liquid options are categorized into three: biochemical, caustic, and solvent.

Biochemical

The most environment-friendly of the three, biochemical products use plant-based solvents. It may consist of one of the following ingredients:

  • lactic acid from corn sugar
  • terpenes from citrus rinds or pine trees
  • citric acid
  • dimethylsulfoxide from wood pulp
  • and an organic compound called NMP or N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone
  • among others.

Because it uses mostly natural ingredients, this type hardly emits any odors. Unfortunately, this compromises its ability to work as efficiently as many other options. It lacks the chemicals that can easily and swiftly do so. It will take time before the entire paint is removed when using biochemical products. Despite this, it can be used on any surface without causing damage. Multiple applications may be needed.

It’s safer than caustic and solvent solutions. The NMP present is risky for women and those exposed to it for long periods and can cause reproductive issues. That is why it should still be used with caution.

Caustic

On the other hand, the caustic ones are water-based and use lye as their main ingredient. The lye used in this type can either be caustic potash or caustic soda, better known as sodium hydroxide.

It has a high pH level, typically ranging from 13 to 14. It works by breaking down the chemicals present. It is done by applying a thick layer, ranging from 1/8 to 1/4 inch. It’s put over the surface and allows around 30 minutes of dwell time. However, this type is ineffective in a -10 degrees Celsius environment.

The lye present will react to the dried paint to turn it into soap, allowing it to be lifted or loosened from the surface it was applied to. But due to its alkalinity, neutralizing the surface afterward is important. It is done by applying a solution of water and vinegar afterward.

It is considered the best latex paint remover. It can also work on oil-based and enamel products well on certain surfaces. It does not work with acrylics, polyurethane, and epoxy. Also, it tends to corrode aluminum and cause the hardwood to blacken. Not only that but it is also known for attracting moisture, which can damage the wood.

While water-based, it must still be handled carefully because it is known to irritate the lungs and eyes or even skin burns.

Solvent

Solvents are known for having the most VOCs present. Solvent solutions include chemicals that allow paint and coating, including epoxy and polyurethane. It can also be acrylic or polyaspartic. They cause the paint to swell up or bubble. The bond that adheres to the surface is softened up or dissolved by these chemicals, allowing easy removal. While neutralizing is unnecessary, the surface needs to be washed with either mineral spirits or water after removing the paint.

Methylene Chloride used to be the primary component of solvent products, but its known health risks make it dangerous. This compound has now been banned for consumer use. Other compounds are being used, such as toluene and acetone.

Because of the higher amount of chemicals and VOCs present, solvent solutions pose more health risks. They are known to emit the strongest fumes. On the upside, these chemicals also make them quite corrosive and great for heavy-duty use. And unlike caustic ones, they can be used even in a cold environment without issue.

Aside from chemical means, paint can also be removed by using heat, sanding, or power washing.

Heat

Using heat should be done with caution, especially if a torch or a heat gun is used. A torch has an open flame to remove paint, which can be a fire hazard. A heat gun can also cause fires and create toxic fumes despite being flameless. A low-intensity infrared heater is ideal for this method. Still, it also has limitations regarding which surfaces it can be used on. But regardless of what tool is used, the heat causes the material to soften up. It allows it to be scraped off easily.

Sanding

Either done using a machine or hand, sanding will work through friction. This method can be considered intrusive, as it may also strip away layers of the surface to which paint is applied.

Power Washing

Not everyone knows that power washing is not just for cleaning. It can also be used to remove paint, especially on exterior surfaces. However, this method can be challenging. Mishandling a power washer or using the wrong amount of pressure can cause damage to any surface.

Before starting the work and regardless of which method will be used, it is vital to determine if there are lead-based parts. It can be dangerous if the house dates back to 1978 or earlier. The process will disturb lead and create dust and chips that can be easily inhaled or absorbed. It may cause lead poisoning that can lead to death.

Lead test kits can be used to know whether it is safe to work on a particular surface or not without special safety precautions. Buying in bulk is practical for large-scale projects on such homes because a basic kit will not be enough to test all suspected areas. They can only be used in a single room on average.

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based

When it comes to painting, water-based and oil-based products are quite different. It’s from application to removal. It is important to understand the differences between a water-based and an oil-based remover.

Latex or acrylic, water-based products are easier to remove than oil-based ones. They can even be done manually without using chemicals. Water-based paint that is not yet completely dry can even be removed by soap and water. Just apply some elbow grease.

Sanding and heat can also work on water-based materials quickly. But if using the products mentioned on this page, caustic strippers work best for latex ones. In contrast, solvent ones are suitable for acrylic products. While both are water-based, acrylics are resistant to the chemicals found in acidic products. It’s unlike latex ones.

On the other hand, oil-based materials are tougher to remove. That is why the stronger solvent and heat are used instead. More effort is needed when dealing with oil-based compared to water-based ones. That is why its compatible products are harsher.

Biochemical products can be used for both oil and water-based products. They will require more time. Despite its versatility, it is the least aggressive type. Because of this, the dwelling time can take several hours to an entire day before it can fully penetrate the paint and allow easy removal. Also, it will take several coats before you’re entirely done.

Zero VOC Options

Some prefer a safer method through liquid means but would rather avoid the lengthy process involving biochemical strippers. A zero VOC solution is ideal.

The VOCs present makes them dangerous to use, especially to pregnant women. It is because VOCs can evaporate. When they interact with the gases present in the atmosphere, they can create harmful ozone gas.

The strong fumes emitted when opening a can indicate the level of VOCs present. The stronger the smell, the more VOCs present. Unfortunately, the smell is not the only aspect everyone should watch out for. There are so many health hazards attributed to VOCs, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver problems
  • Damage to the central nervous system, especially the brain
  • Irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Nausea
  • Recurring headaches
  • Chronic fatigue

That is why it is vital to limit exposure to any substance that contains them. Solvent strippers are known to have the most amount of VOCs present among the three, typically followed by caustic ones. While biochemical solutions use natural ingredients, they may still contain certain amounts of VOCs. It is hard to determine the actual presence.

On the other hand, Zero VOC is generally considered the safest due to the minimal amount of VOCs present. Because of this, the health risks are as good as eliminated. Those who use it no longer have to deal with fumes because zero VOC products will hardly emit odors. And due to the lack of these toxic compounds, they are also an eco-friendly option.

Best Paint Stripper for Wood

Plenty of options can work on various surfaces. Choosing a specialized product that only works on specific surfaces is often better, especially if it involves only one surface type. And when it comes to choosing the best paint stripper for wood, there are a couple of options to choose from.

Liquid

Liquid ones can be used for all kinds of wood surfaces, generally the best option. It includes spot work on wood surfaces. Caustic and solvent strippers will all work on wood. It is still important to choose the right type based on the material to remove and what kind of finishing will be done afterward.

For wood with thick layers of paint that will be turned a different color, caustic strippers will work best. It’s even on a carved surface because it can cause discoloration or permanent stains. If the aim is to preserve the look and feel of wood as much as possible, solvent strippers are ideal because they are less intrusive with wood.

Sanding

Good old-fashioned sanding is another method that works on wood, often using an electric or power sander. However, this should ideally be used only on flat surfaces. It can ruin woodwork, such as moldings and decorative wood. That is why this method is recommended only on wood floors and walls.

Sanding is possible if working with wooden furniture and other similar surfaces. But it’s only when done by hand using a sanding block and with the right kind of sandpaper. However, this can be time-consuming because a single pass will not be enough to get it done entirely. The wooden surface must be sanded with fine grain and coarse sandpaper to get the best results.

Heat

Another method used on both even and uneven surfaces is through heat. It should be done with caution, as too much heat can damage the wood.

To avoid it, use a low heat infrared heat than a torch with an open flame or a heat gun that produces high heat. However, the bulky size of an infrared tool makes them not ideal for use over furniture. That is why they are best used on large, flat wood surfaces.

Work on outdoor surfaces using heat can also be done using steam. Best for heavy-duty use, the steam produced acts as an emulsifier that will allow the paint to be easily removed. While the risk of fire is minimal, this method is known to cause warping on the wood. It can be difficult to fix.

Power Washing

Power washing may be used for decks and outdoor wood surfaces, not just to clean surfaces. However, peeling layers must be removed first. The solution should be applied on the surface and allowed to dwell before doing so.

The right water pressure is needed because weak pressure will be ineffective. At the same time, water pressure that is too strong can damage the wood. Working with latex paint will require less water pressure since it is easier to remove than oil-based ones.

When done right, it can be the fastest method. It’s great when working on a large area. Pressure washing can only be done outdoors. It will involve large volumes of water that can cause issues when used indoors.

Do note that regardless of which method is used, it will still involve scraping the paint off. If you expect it to fall off on its own, that will never happen. Most of these require scraping as a final step. Power washing normally involves scraping before using the pressure washer and afterward for remaining stubborn parts.

Best Paint Stripper for Concrete

Concrete is porous, which means it will easily absorb anything applied. Still, this characteristic also makes its removal much harder. Finding the best paint stripper for concrete can be quite a challenge. This does not mean the removal is impossible, whether on concrete garage floors or walls.

jasco paint remover for concrete

Liquid

Chemical solutions will get the job done, whether used only for spot removal. It’s great for stripping it off on a concrete garage surface in preparation for another coat being added on afterward. However, it is not as easy as it would be on wood.

Choosing the right kind for a concrete surface will mainly depend on the type used. All three types can be applied to concrete without causing damage. Use caustic strippers for the following:

  • epoxy
  • polyurethane
  • polyurea
  • polyaspartic
  • and acrylic coatings

These are commonly used on concrete. At the same time, oil-based paint is easily removed by solvent products. Biochemical ones can also work with different materials on concrete, but the entire process will still take longer.

Sometimes, these products may not be enough to do the work because of the porous nature of concrete. It’s even if thick layers are applied over the paint. In such instances, additives that will make the chemicals absorbent simultaneously may be used. Ordinary cat litter or clay will work well, which is crushed to become fine. They must be mixed with the active component before application.

Do note that reapplication may be necessary to complete the process.

Sanding

Sanding may also be used for concrete, but normally only for floors. A sanding disc is attached to a standard floor buffer instead of a polisher. The paint is removed in the same manner as polishing the floor.

This method can effectively remove paint that has gone deep into the concrete holes. It is also known to damage the surface because of the scrapes and scratches it can create. That is why polishing the floors after the work is done and before applying a new coat of paint may be necessary.

Power Washing

Another method for concrete that may be considered less invasive is through power washing. Since water-based paint is typically used on concrete, power washing alone may be enough. There is no need to apply a coat of remover over the paint before washing it off using the pressure washer.

If water is not enough to get the desired result, more abrasive washers may be used. It can either be a shot blaster or sandblaster. They work the same way as a pressure washer. Instead of water, a shot blaster uses tiny beads made of metal. A sandblaster uses sand. Since they are very abrasive, they must be used carefully to minimize any damage to concrete.

Working on concrete surfaces is more challenging, thanks to its porous nature.

Best Paint Stripper for Masonry & Brick

Making sure that every nook and cranny of an uneven surface is evenly painted can be quite challenging. Still, it is even more so in the preparation stage. That is why this is the hardest surface to work on among those discussed. Finding the best paint stripper for brick & masonry is not easy, especially if preservation is also a major concern.

Liquid Options

It is important to use the least intrusive methods to preserve brick and masonry, especially for historic homes. That is why using liquid paint strippers should be done cautiously. These chemicals may have a strong reaction to the surface that can cause permanent discoloration, especially for older masonry and brick.

When using liquid products, only those that are specially formulated for brick and masonry surfaces should be used. Caustic, solvent, and biochemical solutions may work. Make sure to get those intended for use on these surfaces. Caustic products should also be the last option. They can be absorbed by the porous surface and cause long-term damage that may not be instantly visible. Certain solvent products are water-soluble, and these are the best for masonry and brick.

Too often, liquid solutions will not immediately work with masonry and brick. That is why multiple applications are usually made. Again, it should be done with caution to avoid any possible damage.

Power Washing

If the paint on masonry and brick is already in poor condition, power washing may easily get the job done. This method may not be advisable for soft or weak bricks and masonry, typical for old homes. Even at the lowest setting, the water pressure may be too strong for the surface to withstand. It is typically used only when other methods do not work.

Using sandblasters may also work, but these are a lot more abrasive than water. It means it can easily damage the surface if done improperly.

Since liquid strippers and pressure washers may damage a masonry or brick surface, some may think twice about using them. A less intrusive but time-consuming method is applying the paste or gel on fabric and placing it over the surface. It allows the paint to be transferred to the fabric, minimizing the possibility of damage to brick or masonry.

Gel

A relatively newer method is by using a gel. It is considered the most versatile way of doing so. Its formulation allows it to be evenly applied on various surfaces, even vertical ones. It can also be safely used on metals like aluminum, wood, masonry, brick. It can even work on good products, including the Jasco Premium Paint and Epoxy Remover. Still, it may not properly work on plastic surfaces.

jasco paint remover

Give it enough time, and the surface will bubble up. It’s anywhere from just a few minutes to 24 hours. It indicates that it has separated and is ready to be wiped off. Its longer dwelling time will allow it to penetrate even thick layers of paint in a single application. While it is normally scraped off, the gel will allow it to be easily wiped off.

Gels can be used safely with different kinds of paint, including water-based and oil-based ones and even lead-based materials. It is because it can encapsulate lead, trapping it to the gel and preventing it from being released into the air. It does not contain toxic chemicals commonly found in liquid removers, especially methylene chloride. However, some of them may contain NMP. It is also known to cause health issues. Some are known to be odor-free, while some emit strong fumes.

It is safe to say that each method has its own set of pros and cons from all these. It is up to the user to decide what would best meet their needs.

What should be remembered is that all of them will require safety equipment, such as safety goggles and proper gloves. It includes masks and overalls or long shirts and pants. Even products marketed as safe or non-toxic may still contain toxic chemicals or compounds. It is always better to be safe than sorry when working on any surface.

Best Paint Stripper For Metal

You’ll need to know that it isn’t all that easy if you’re looking to remove paint from metal.

For instance, it could be that you have an old bike that you’re hoping to work on. It would be one of the easier things you could deal with.

If you’re trying to remove something from the old furniture you have outside, you’re setting yourself up for quite the task.

The bicycle has the advantage that the surface is pretty smooth, unlike outdoor furniture. It is the reason for the differences in the job’s difficulty.

If you’re dealing with paint and facing a surface that isn’t smooth, stripping it off may be the next step you have to take.

The important thing is that you do the steps in the right order.

The first step is to make sure that you’re covering the ground to have a surface that is easy to clean afterward. It’s easier to remove if you don’t have to sweep it up from a concrete floor but rather have to fold the plastic sheeting together and throw it away. You can also make do with old newspapers instead.

If you’re dealing with something old, we encourage you to have the surface tested for lead. It’s because lead was allowed to be included in consumer products until 1992.

The second step is to pour some of the appropriate product into a small container that you can throw away afterward. We recommend something like a metal can that has been cleaned. You can then use a brush to cover the surface of the metal with the chemical by following the instructions included in the product you’re using.

Bubbles coming from the surface will start appearing, at which point you can start scraping it off. A nylon brush or scrubbing pad can be used for those areas that are difficult to do with the scraper. You may need to reapply the solution several times to achieve your desired result.

A rag with mineral spirits will be used to wipe down the surface once you are done scraping. It will help remove the remnants and remove a good bit of the used product.

You want to make sure that the paint stripper is no longer there. It includes rinsing the surface with generous amounts of water, after which you will dry the surface with a rag.

If you’re dealing with lead-based surfaces, we encourage you to take the necessary steps to avoid exposure to excessive lead levels.

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