How to Remove Primer from Wood?

The easiest way to get primer off wood.
How to Remove Primer from Wood Image

Learning how to remove primer from wood can help you get rid of an uneven paint job and reapply paint and primer to obtain an impeccable surface. Nobody likes a wood piece that isn’t weathered properly – it’s unattractive and it will also make the rest of the house look ugly and lose its value.

Fortunately, this problem has a solution – you can get rid of the old primer if you have everything necessary for the process and follow some specific steps.

In this post, you’ll learn about the best way to get rid of primer from wood.

Tools You Need to Remove Paint Primer from Wood

  • Biochemical paint stripper or heavy-duty solvent – Biochemical stripper tends to use plant-based ingredients for eroding primer, making it the safest option as it won’t damage the surface. A heavy-duty solvent is the best option for very old and thick primers because it’s a very strong formula.
  • Clean cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Dust mask
  • Paintbrush
  • Putty knife/Paint scraper – A putty knife is the right option when peeling off primer from wood.
  • Water and vinegar – Water and vinegar are only needed as long as the stripper requires them, which is why you should read the label first to find this out.
  • pH testing strip – pH testing strips are necessary when you neutralize a surface.
  • Mineral spirits – You need water or mineral spirits in case you do not neutralize the surface and you need to clean it.
  • Sandpaper – 220 grit sandpaper may be the right option for removing old primer
  • Sanding block

Materials For larger Surface Primer Removal i.e wood floor

  • Floor sander- A Sander comes with large, circular discs that make primer removal easy.
  • Shop vacuum – For cleaning leftover debris

How to Get Primer off Wood Step by Step

Before you begin, ensure the working area is well ventilated and large enough to maneuver around.

Step 1: Clean the Surface

The first thing to do is wash off the wood before you start removing the primer. Use a liquid cleaner to get rid of dirt. You can simply pour some dish soap drops into a bucket that you will then fill with warm water.

Afterward, you can wash off the primed wood. Use a towel to dry and allow the primed surface some time to dry by itself if the towel doesn’t reach certain surfaces.

Step 2: Put on Your Equipment

Put on all your protective equipment; from dust mask to eyewear, rubber gloves and even a respirator. The thick gloves help keep the irritating stripper off the skin, while the goggles will ensure that no fumes reach your eyes.

Then, in case you decide to use a biochemical or caustic stripper, you should put on a dust mask as well. A respirator is also necessary if you want to use a heavy-duty chemical solvent.

Step 3: Sand the Surface

Image courtesy of homedepot

If there are some looser parts that you can remove, the easiest and fastest way is using sandpaper. Sure, it may require a lot of elbow grease, but it won’t take long.

Attach the sandpaper to a sanding block or use a power sander. Then, start sanding in the direction of the wood’s grain. In other words, start at one end of your wood piece, and then go down in the direction of the grain in the wood.

Keep going until you notice that you’ve removed as much primer as possible. If you’re sanding a floor instead, you can also use a floor sander, as it’ll make the job faster.

Step 4: Apply Stripping Agent

If you cannot remove all the primer through this process as it’s stubborn, you can apply some stripping agent. You can also do this from the get-go if you don’t prefer the sandpaper method.

Pour the stripping agent into a paint tray, after which, use a cheap brush to dip it into the solution, or you can simply use a clean cloth.

Then, while considering the direction of the grain, you will start spreading the substance all over the surface you want to remove the primer. Bear in mind that it’s possible to have to reload the brush every 4-5 strokes considering the majority of stripping agents are thick. Otherwise, it will dry out.

Step 5: Apply a 1/8 – ½ in Layer of Stripping Agent

The thickness of the stripping agent layer is based on the type of solvent you use. Usually, you will need thin layers when using a heavy-duty solvent. In this case, you won’t require more than 1/8 in layer.

Conversely, if you’re using either biochemical or caustic strippers, you will need a much thicker layer, which is specified on the label of the product. For the most part, you will need a ½ in layer.

Keep spreading the stripping agent until you cover every textured surface, crack, or gap in the material. Sometimes, stripping agents come with a plastic sheet, in which case you should lay it over the surface. This helps work the stripper into the surface. Make sure that when you lay it on the wooden surface, you use your palms to smooth it out and thus remove air bubbles or any imperfections.

Step 6: Wait for It to Work Into the Primer

Once you’re done covering every area that still has primer on it, wait between 30 minutes and 12 hours for the stripper to work. It will soak into the primer and allow you to get rid of it later.

Ideally, check the label to see the amount of time you should let the stripper soak as recommended by the manufacture. Bear in mind that this will not make the primer simply fall off the surface. It will only loosen it and make it easier to remove later.

Step 7: Scrape the Primer with a Putty Knife/Paint Scraper

Image courtesy of valsparpaint

Now’s the time for removing the primer for good. Put on your protective gear and grab a putty knife, dragging the blade at a 15- to 25-degree angle. This should allow you to peel off the primer.

Ensure that you also work in horizontal or vertical stripes so that you remove the primer together with the stripping agent. Do this until you get rid of all the stripping agent and primer.

Related: How to remove paint from hardwood floor

Step 8: Use Water and Vinegar to Neutralize the Surface

Some stripping agents will require neutralization after you remove the paint primer. So, check out the label to see if you need to go through this step. If it says you have to, then take a spray bottle and fill it with 1-part tap water and 1-part white vinegar.

Spray the result on the surface so you neutralize the paint stripper acid. Let the solution soak for a minute. For smaller objects, soak them in the solution for about 3-5 minutes.

Step 9: Test Using a pH Testing Strip

If you have neutralized the surface, you should also test it with a pH testing strip. Put it on a damp area of the surface and allow the liquid to soak into your strip. Wait for a bit until it changes colors, and use the color-coded reference in order to determine the pH amount.

If it’s close to or at 7 pH, then everything’s great. If it gets too high, though, you can use more water and vinegar to soak the surface. When it’s below 6.5, there is too much acid. 

Step 10: Clean the Surface Using Water or Mineral Spirits

If you didn’t neutralize the surface, you may have to clean the wood with mineral spirits. So, take some mineral spirits and use them to rinse the surface. You can even use simple water for this step.

Step 11: Allow the Surface Some Time to Dry

When you’re done, let the surface dry out. Wood can take up to 24 hours to dry in most cases. Finally, if there is any debris in the area, use a shop vacuum to clean it up.

Removing Primer from Wood FAQs

Can Primer Be Removed?

Yes, primer can be removed before painting on all surfaces including metal or even plastic. Ensure you pick the right method/remover as different surfaces behave differently. Either use sandpaper or grab a good paint stripping agent to do the job.

How Do You Remove Kilz Primer from Wood?

To remove Kilz primer from wood, use some chemical paint remover and pour it onto a clean cloth. Then, rub the cloth onto the primed surface. Take a putty knife to scrape off the Kilz primer, and use your hand to pull up all the loose pieces.

How Do You Remove Primer without Sanding?

Aside from sanding, you can scrape off primer by spreading a good stripping agent all over the area and into the gaps and cracks. The stripping agent will loosen the primer, after which you can use a putty knife/paint scraper to get rid of it.

Can You Sand Primer off?

Sanding primer off is possible. But it requires a lot of elbow grease. 220 grit sandpaper will do the job nicely, especially if the primer is already loose.

Does Paint Thinner like Isopropyl Alcohol Remove Primer?

Removing paint a thinner is pretty straightforward. Hold a rag up to the bottle of mineral spirits or turpentine until the surface is completely free of the primer. A toothbrush is another handy tool that could help you effectively remove primer with the aid of paint thinner(oil based paints).

What Removes Oil Based Paint Primer?

To remove oil based paint primer, use either mineral spirits, paint thinner, acetone, or paint stripper. Go for odourless mineral spirits if you want to remove fresh oil based paint primer. However, for large projects, try using heavier duty noxious chemicals like acetone or paint stripper.

What Removes Water Based Paint Primer

Use rubbing alcohol to remove water based or latex paint. Use a toothbrush with a little rubbing alcohol for difficult areas to reach (such as a stair banister).

Final thoughts

So, have you enjoyed learning how to remove primer from wood? Through this process, you get rid of any imperfections or any primer that hasn’t adhered properly. Thus, you can prepare the surface for new primer and paint. This way, you will make the surface look smooth and even.

If you’ve enjoyed this guide, let us know in the comments and share the post on other platforms so your friends can learn something that might come in handy later. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to post them in the comment section as well.

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