Learning how to remove paint from stained wood can help you eliminate wet or dried paint drips and splatters from remodeling projects in your house. Nobody likes to live with dried paint spills that ruin the overall appearance of your wooden surfaces.

Fortunately, you don’t have to stay stuck with paint-flecked flooring, wood cabinets or furniture. Instead, you only need to know what materials (for instance, the best wood to paint for cabinets)to use and the steps to follow to get rid of that ugly situation.

As a professional woodworker, I’ll provide you with the right tips to get the best results

Let’s get right on it.

How to Remove Paint from Stained Wood

Start by wiping the paint using either warm soapy water or acetone.  Next, use a paint scraper to remove the paint. Then apply some heat to remove the dried or old paint. Next, try using a paint solvent for any lingering dried paint. Finally, sand with super-fine grit sandpaper.

How to Remove Paint Splatters from Stained Wood Trim

Paint splatters occur regardless of how careful you are. It is advisable to scrape that mess out while it’s still wet. But if you are working on a large surface like wood trim, it can be pretty challenging. You can still remove the splatters even after they dry. Here’s how.

Method 1: Using Warm Soapy Water

This is your option if you have a water-based latex paint splatter on your varnished woodwork, whether the paint is still wet or has dried.

Tools and Materials

  •  Dishwashing soap
  •  Warm water
  • Cotton rag
  •  Bucket

The steps

Step 1: Make a soapy water mixture by using soap with warm water.

Step 2: Dip the rag in warm soapy water and scrape the wet paint. Rinse the rag in soapy as it gets clogged with paint and continue wiping until all the paint comes off.

Step 3: If the paint has dried, soak the paint in water for three to five minutes. Rub the paint off in circular motions. Rinse the rag in soapy water as frequently as you see fit. Replace the water as soon as it gets saturated in paint.

Step 4: Continue with the process until you have removed all the paint.

Step 5: Rinse the wood in clean water and wipe away the excess water using a clean cotton rag. Leave your wooden surface to air dry completely.

Method 2: Using Acetone

Acetone is a common paint remover. Use it for oil-based paint splatters, varnish and lacquer.

Tools and materials

  •  Acetone
  • Clean rags
  • Paint scraper utility knife

The steps

Step 1: Saturate a rag in acetone and use it to scrape off the fresh oil-based paint from your stained wood trim. Then clean the wooden surface with a damp cloth to remove traces of paint and acetone.

Step 2:  If the paint splatter has dried, you can easily peel it off using a paint scraper (metal scraper).

Step 3: Then pour some acetone directly onto the paint splatter and let it sit for a minute. Saturate your clean cotton rag in acetone and use it to rub off any paint residue.

Step 4: Clean the surface with plain water and wipe out excess water. Let it air dry completely.

Other options you can use in place of acetone include; vinegar, rubbing denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, paint strippers and using a heat gun or steam stripper.

Interesting Post: How to Tone Down Red Tones in Wood

How to Remove Dried Water-based Latex Paint from Varnished Wood

Here are easy and reliable methods you can use.

Method 1: Using Denatured Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol

Denatured Alcohol is a tough, non-toxic paint remover that will get the job done without any of those pesky solvents.

It’s great for removing latex paint from stained wood, varnish, and lacquer from woodwork without damaging the wood beneath.

You will need

  • Denatured alcohol (methylated spirits) or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Clean rag

The steps

Step 1: Soak the rag in the denatured alcohol.

Step 2:  Using the rag, rub off the paint in circular motions to remove all the traces of the paint. Use a clean cloth and more alcohol if need be.

Step 3: It will soften the paint for easy scraping. Wipe with a damp cloth to remove all the residues.

Method 2: Using Chemical Paint Stripper

A chemical paint stripper, specifically deck paint stripping products, is efficient, especially for reasonably large deck surfaces.

Tools and Materials

  • Chemical stripper (we recommend Citristrip Stripping Gel)
  • Respirator and Gloves
  • Paint scraper i.e Plastic putty knife
  • Paint brush
  • Scrubbing sponge or old toothbrush
  • Clean rag

Stripping Paint (Step by Step)

Step 1: Wear your gloves and respirator. Also, ensure you are working in a well-ventilated room or work outside if you can.

Step 2: Apply a coat of Citristrip on the painted areas. Let it work for about 30 minutes to an hour. For the best results, here are a few tips for using Citristrip without damaging the wood finish.

Step 3: Once the paint begins to bubble and becomes fluffy, use your putty knife to strip the multiple layers of paint from your varnished woodwork. Strip as much as you can.

Step 4: Scrub any lingering paint using warm soapy water and a scrubbing sponge or toothbrush.

Step 5: Wipe the bare wood with a damp rag to remove excess water and any paint residue. Let it air dry.

How to Remove Oil-based Paint from Stained Wood Trim

While oil paint guarantees more protection to the bare wood, there’s a way to remove it from stained wood without damaging the surface. Here is how.

Method 1: Using Mineral Spirits

There’s a reason this paint remover has been around since the late 1800s. Mineral Spirits does an excellent job at removing all paint types from walls, ceilings and trim without stripping their finish or leaving behind any residue!

 You will need

  • Mineral spirits
  • Clean towel

The steps

Step 1: Apply some mineral spirits on the paint using a clean towel.

Step 2: Scrub the softened paint off using a towel in circular motions.

Step 3: Wipe with a damp towel to remove the mineral spirits. This prevents the solvent from removing the stain on the woodwork. Then allow it ample time to air dry.

Related: How to get urine stains out of hardwood floors

Method 2: Using Paint Thinner

Those who are new to painting might not know that thinner is used as a paint remover.

You will need

  • Turpentine
  • Clean cloth
  • Gloves
  • Face mask or respirator

The Steps

Step1: Wear a respirator and work in a well-ventilated space.

Step 2: Apply a generous amount of turpentine directly on the paint and allow it to sit for a minute.

Step 3: Apply some more turpentine on a cloth and scrub the softened paint off. Change the damp cloth and use more turpentine as needed.

Step 4: Wash with warm soapy water, then wipe dry with a dry rag. Allow it to air dry for as long as necessary.

Method 3: Using Heat machine

No paint can resist some heat.

You will need

  •  Heat gun or a construction hairdryer
  •  Putty knife 
  •  Respirator
  • Heat-proof gloves.

The Steps

Step 1: Wear your gloves and respirator. Ensure the room is well-ventilated.

Step 2: Set the heat gun or heat machine to the maximum setting, hover it 10 inches above the paint.

Step 3: Hold your putty knife on the other hand and scrape the paint off while you heat. Be gentle while using the putty knife so you don’t gouge the wood.

Step 4: Scrape off as much paint as you can.

Although, naturally, all the paint won’t come off using heat, remove the leftover paint using one of the methods already talked of above. Use either a paint thinner or paint solvent.

Step 5: Finally, wash it and clean the excess water and debris. Allow your wood furniture to air dry thoroughly.

Method 4: Sanding

While it can be dusty and exhausting to use, it is also quite effective. Remember to work in a well-ventilated space.

You will need

  • Power sander 
  • Sandpaper with different grit (60, 80, 100, 120, and super-fine grit sandpaper (360).
  • Protective clothing
  • Respirator or face mask
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Clean rag

The Steps

Step 1: Wear your protective clothing and respirator. Then set up your power sander and attach the 60 grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Sand the paint off and clean the loose dust. Subsequently, adjust the sandpaper grit and sand till you strip painted furniture.

Step 3: If you have any stubborn paint left between the boards, edges or wood crevices, use palm sandpaper to remove the paint.

Step 4: Buff using super fine-grit sandpaper (360), and then scrub the surface with a damp rag. Let it air dry for as long as needed.

Types of Wood Stain

There’re two types of stains; wiping stains and penetrating stains

Wiping stain is a thick oil-based best applied on both finished and unfinished wood.

On the other hand, a penetrating stain is oil-based, but a light consistency is meant to seep in the wood grain. You can use it on unfinished wood, interior furniture surfaces as well as previously removed finished wood. 

You can use whichever type of stain, depending on the state of your wooden surface.

Read Also: Can You Stain Painted Wood?

What Types of Paint Can You Use over Stain?

You can paint over stain with these three types of paint; Spray paint, water-based latex paint, or oil-based paint.


The tips discussed above will come in handy when removing paint from your trim or house in general. While it’s best to scrape away paint error while still wet, removing dried paint is also possible.

Always determine the type of paint on your woodwork first, and then use the appropriate method to get it off. 

Let me know if there’re other paint removal-related questions you would like me to respond to in the comments section below. Good luck.

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