Stripping paint off metal

Best way to remove paint from metal with a chemical paint stripper – DIY Guide

Whether you want to repaint or respray your metal parts, furniture, renew defective coatings from bike and motorcycle parts, remove graffiti stains, or recoat a metal tank, the first step is to remove paint from metal. Because proper adhesion of any new paint and coating is only achieved if the substrate (the metal object) is completely stripped bare and afterwards carefully pretreated. The process of paint stripping metal at home is not recommended for everyone, especially when you have no experienced in handling chemicals like a chemical paint stripper. The best option is then to bring the metal parts to chemical paint stripping services. If you’d rather not go to a metal paint stripping service near you, you can save money by stripping paint off metal yourself at home.

In this guide you get to know the safest and best way to remove paint from metal parts at home. Furthermore, you will be presented with some suitable products to remove paint from metal, and you will also learn about the dangers of chemically stripping paint by yourself.

Using a chemical paint stripper: Safety precautions before stripping paint off metal

Before you buy the best paint stripper to strip paint from metal parts at home, it is essential to create a safe working space that protects not only personal health but also the environment. Don’t rush – paint stripping takes time and attention.

Before removing paint at home you should follow these safety steps:

  • Make sure your work space is well-ventilated
  • Find a space with a solid floor (a garage is a good option)
  • Wear safety clothing (long sleeves and trousers), including gloves, goggles and a mask with an air-purifying respirator
  • Have a surface prepared to place the item on during the stripping process, such as a drop cloth or cardboard

If you decide to not strip the paint from metal yourself, there are professionals in practically every part of the US who strip even powder coating from metal for you at a reasonable price. Stripping paint off larger parts of metal is always best left to professionals.

The main chemicals used in products to remove paint from metal

Paint strippers at hardware stores are available for everyone. That doesn’t mean those paint strippers aren’t dangerous for health and environment. You should try to stay away from paint strippers that contain carcinogens. Most paint strippers for metal contain the following toxic, polluting solvents:

  • N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidon (NMP),
  • Methyl ethyl ketone,
  • Perchloroethylene,
  • Methylene chloride, (MC/DCM)
  • Toluene

Even without these ingredients, paint strippers are composed of hazardous ingredients; the best advice is to always read and carefully follow what’s on the safety data sheet and technical data sheet that comes with the paint stripper. It is also vitally important to be aware of the possible health and environmental damage that they can cause, and never allow them to reach groundwater.

In order to work as a paint remover, the paint stripper consists of solvents that are able to penetrate a coating so that it loosens and detaches from the surface.

Products to remove paint from metal

If you are confident that you are able to use paint stripper at home, you will find the best paint removers at your local specialist paint shop or even online. You find the paint stripper’s price and chemical basis; that helps you in making the best choice in buying the best paint stripper metal needs:

Paint stripper metalType/applicationRemovesBased onAverage Price
Dad’s Easy SprayLiquid/sprayWater based paint, oil based paint, paints, lacquers, shellacs, latex, varnishes, stains, acrylics, epoxies, polyurethanes, adhesives Methylene chloride, methanol, ethylene glycol butyl ether$15 for 1qt (32 OZ)
Citristrip Paint & Varnish Stripping GelGel/brushLatex and oil-based paint, varnish, lacquer, enamel, polyurethane, acrylics, epoxyBenzyl-alcohol/ glycol ether based; without Methylene Chloride and NMP; biodegradable$12 for 32oz (1Qt)
Strypeeze Paint & Varnish stripperSemi-paste/brushLatex and oil-base paints, varnish and lacquersToluene, Methanol, Acetone; methylene chloride and NMP free$12 for 1qt (32 OZ)

Spot test before applying chemical paint stripper

After having bought the paint stripper of your choice, you can apply it on the coated metal part as described in the data sheet. However, to avoid incompatibility with the substrate or paint you should first:

  • Spot test the metal item with the paint stripper.

By testing the paint stripper you will also see after several hours if it works for the type of coating on the metal part.

If you see bubbles and loose chips, you have green light for the next step: applying paint stripper on the whole metal part.

Best way to remove paint from metal with gel or liquid paint remover

A lot of paint strippers for are either liquid or have a creamy consistency. The advantage of a viscous paint stripper is that you can apply it on angled surfaces where liquid paint strippers for metal would run off. Before you start, follow the safety steps previously described.
Here is the best way to strip paint from metal:

  1. Apply the paint stripper to the painted metal surface with a brush or roller. Work in manageable sections, i.e. 1m x 1m)
  2. Leave the paint stripper for the time recommended in the instructions.
  3. Cover the treated section with plastic film or sheet to keep the paint stripper from drying too quickly.
  4. After some hours, remove the plastic and try to scrape the paint with a bladed paint scraper.
    1. If the paint is still stuck fast, allow more time for it to work.
    2. If you are able to lift the paint off, move ahead and begin applying paint remover on the next section.
  5. Collect the scraped paint material in a bucket and make sure to dispose as hazardous waste.
  6. Use a scrubbing pad for places that are hard to reach.
  7. Repeat the procedure if needed.

After successfully stripping the paint you can:

  • Wash residue off carefully, wash it down with detergent, and dry the surface.

To prepare it for following steps, ensure it will not corrode, and completely remove all the paint and solvent:

  • Go over the part with an abrasive pad/ steel wool or electric sander.

Depending on the type of metal and the intended follow-up coating, abrasive sandblasting is the next step of treatment to ensure ideal adhesion before applying paint or powder coating in the color and finish of your choice.