How to Remove Paint from Woodwork Trim


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remove_paint_from_wood_trim_pinterestWood trim is a finishing touch that can make any home go from average to elegant. Therefore, it’s important to make sure yours is in peak shape.

Whether you’re here because your wood trim is in dire need of a refinish—or you’ve experienced drips and runs from a recent paint job—this guide will teach you exactly how to remove paint from your woodwork trim.

Don’t worry about spending a lot of time and money doing such a tedious task. Using our guide, with only about $40 and 10 minutes to spare, you’ll be on your way to removing the paint from the wood trim in your home.

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1- Safety First

Safety always comes first­—especially when you’re dealing with potentially harmful chemicals. Fortunately, the latex based paint remover we recommend doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals like many of the other products on the market. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, we highly recommend turning on a fan and wearing the proper equipment to ensure your safety.

Go ahead and put on your safety goggles, gloves, and place a tarp or drop cloth in your work area. The drop cloth will collect any dust or debris when you remove the paint from your wood trim.

Step 2- Apply the Paint Remover

Be sure to get Motsenbocker’s Lift Off Paint Remover

This paint remover is amazing because you simply spray it on and it almost instantly breaks the molecular bond between the wood trim and paint. The thing we love most about this paint remover is that it doesn’t contain any paint thinners like most paint removing products do. Paint thinners are not only toxic and potentially harmful—they can permanently damage the surface of your wood trim. Best of all, Motsenbocker’s paint remover will work on all types of paint—including latex and oil-based paints.

Now, take your latex based paint remover and simply spray it evenly across the surface of your wood trim. The molecular bond between the paint and wood will start to break within seconds. Allow the paint remover to sit on your wood trim for approximately 1-2 minutes.

Step 3- Sand the Loose Paint Away

Source: Miracle Eraser

After you’ve let your paint remover sit on the surface of your trim for 1-2 minutes, prepare to use your sanding block. You may use any sanding block, but we highly recommend the Miracle Eraser Strip ‘N Sand Paint Remover Stripping Block because it molds itself to the exact shape of the surface you are sanding. Most sanding blocks are stiff, making it impossible to access the hard to reach crevices within wood trim. Therefore, the Miracle Eraser Strip ‘N Sand Block will not only make your life 10x easier, but it will ensure even sanding.

Now, take your sanding block and run it across the surface of your wood in a back and forth motion. You will notice the raw wood under the paint will start to reveal itself.

This is where your drop cloth or tarp will come into play. Just a forewarning, paint dust and debris will likely get all over you and the surface beneath you. You might even want to wear a dust mask during this step to avoid inhaling any extra paint dust. However, you won’t be sanding for more than a minute as the paint remover already did most of the work.

Step 5- Prepare your Wood Trim for Staining

wood_bleachFinally, if you’re planning on repainting your wood trim, you can ignore this step. However, a lot of people prefer to stain their trim after removing the paint. If this applies to you, you’ll probably want to use wood bleach on your trim to prepare it for staining.

Many times, wood is tinged by paint—especially after years of sitting. In result, if you decided to stain your wood trim without bleaching it first, the stain will be dulled by the tinge and your wood trim will likely look old and worn. Therefore, it is especially important that you take this step seriously if you plan on staining your wood trim.

We recommend checking out Savogran Wood Bleach to eliminate any tinging in your wood trim. It’s inexpensive, gentle, and works extremely well. Simply mix the wood bleach with hot water and rub it across the surface of your trim with a scrub brush. If you don’t have a scrub brush, a cloth will work just as effectively. However, be sure to wear gloves to avoid any contact with your skin. Within 10 minutes, you will notice your trim lighten. If you’re not satisfied with the color, keep applying the bleach until you reach the lightness you desire. Now, you can feel confident your stain will look flawless on your new trim.

More: If you don’t know what finish to use on your wood trim, be sure to checkout our article on the Best Finishes for Woodworking.

Tips for Removing Paint

  • When sanding, turn your vacuum cleaner on and place the sucking hose in the direction of your trim. This will collect a lot of the debris and dust that sheds from your trim.
  • Wood bleach and cleaning bleach are two different things! Do not use regular bleach on your wood trim! This can potentially destroy your trim!
  • You must wear gloves and be in a well-ventilated room when dealing with wood bleach. If you have to, open a window, turn on your ceiling fan, or wear a respirator.
  • Wear old clothing! Wood bleach can stain your clothes just as regular cleaning bleach can. Try to avoid touching anything after using it—especially your face and eyes!
  • You may use paint thinners in substitution of paint remover. However, do this at your own risk. Not only are paint thinners toxic, they can damage the surface of your wood!


In just 5 easy steps, you can remove the paint from your wood trim and prepare it to be refinished! We hope you were able to take something from this guide and learn something new. Good luck on your wood trim and as always, happy woodworking!  

More: If you’re brand new to woodworking or you might be interest in taking it up as a passion, be sure to check out our article on How to Get Started in Woodworking!

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