How To Remove Chalk Paint From Wood In 10 Practical Steps

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Written by: Mohammad Sameer

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Chalk paint has become a popular choice for DIY furniture makeovers thanks to its matte finish and subtle distressed look. But what happens when you want to change up the colour or remove the chalk paint from a piece entirely?

Removing chalk paint from wood can be a challenge, but it’s possible with the right tools and techniques.

In this article, we’ll walk through a step-by-step process for effectively removing chalk paint from wood furniture and surfaces. We’ll cover everything from gathering supplies to prepping the surface to stripping off layers of paint.

Whether you used chalk paint to refinish an antique dresser or give a new look to some old kitchen cabinets, our guide will teach you how to strip chalk paint to reveal the natural wood grain underneath. With a little elbow grease and the right paint strippers, you can undo your chalk paint job.

So if you find yourself wondering how to remove dried chalk paint from wood to start fresh with a new color or stain, read on. We’re sharing pro tips, tricks for stubborn paint, and a 10-step method anyone can follow.

Let’s get started!

material used remove Chalk Paint From Wood

  • Heat gun: A heat gun can be used to soften the chalk paint, making it easier to scrape off. Be sure to use caution when using a heat gun, as it can damage the wood if it is not used properly.
  • Paint stripper: A paint stripper is a chemical product that can be used to dissolve chalk paint. Be sure to wear gloves, goggles, and a mask when using paint stripper, as it can be harmful to your health.
  • Sanding: Sanding is a mechanical way to remove chalk paint. You can use a sanding block or a power sander. Be sure to start with coarse-grit sandpaper and then finish with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Citrus stripper: A citrus stripper is a natural way to remove chalk paint. It is made from citrus oils and is less harmful to your health than chemical paint strippers.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is a mild acid that can be used to remove chalk paint. It is not as effective as other methods, but it is a safe and inexpensive option.

How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever painted a beautiful piece of wooden furniture or wood floors with chalk paint, only to decide later that you want to remove the chalk paint and restore the original wood grain?

Removing layers of paint from a painted surface can seem daunting, but it is possible with some elbow grease and the right techniques.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide 10 practical tips for removing chalk paint from wood so you can learn how to strip chalk paint and reveal the natural beauty of the wood underneath.

Overview of Chalk Paint Removal Methods

Chalk paint has become a very popular type of paint for DIY furniture makeovers and wood finishing projects. Its matte finish and ability to adhere to surfaces without priming make it an ideal paint for beginners.

However, if you later want to update the look or remove the chalk paint from the wood, it can be a challenge to strip the chalk paint completely.

The key to successfully removing chalk paint is to use the proper paint removal methods and tools for your specific project. The painted surface, whether it’s a small furniture piece or a wood floor, will determine the most effective technique.

You’ll need to test different paint strippers and removal methods on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it can remove the layers of paint without damaging the raw wood underneath. Patience and some elbow grease will also help get the job done properly.

Below we will explore the most common and effective methods for how to remove chalk paint from wood furniture, floors, and other painted wood surfaces.

With the right stripping techniques and tools, you can easily learn how to strip chalk paint and restore wood to its original state.

Tip 1: Use a Heat Gun to Loosen Paint

A realistic illustration art of a young anime character using a heat gun to remove paint from a wooden surface. The character is wearing safety goggles and gloves to protect themselves from the heat. The heat gun is pointed at the paint, and the paint is starting to bubble and peel away.

One of the easiest methods for removing chalk paint from wood is using a heat gun. Heat guns use high heat to soften and loosen the paint, making it easier to scrape off with a paint scraper.

To use a heat gun:

  • Select a heat gun that offers temperature control settings, allowing you to adjust the amount of heat applied to the surface. Look for heat guns that reach 1100°F.
  • Wear protective gear like gloves and safety goggles when operating a heat gun.
  • Test the heat gun on an inconspicuous spot first to ensure it doesn’t scorch or burn the wood.
  • Hold the heat gun 6-8 inches away from the surface and apply heat evenly until the paint bubbles and lifts.
  • Immediately use a paint scraper to gently lift the softened paint off the surface while being careful not to gouge the wood.
  • Continue heating and scraping until you’ve removed all layers of paint.
  • For detailed heat gun paint removal, use a wire brush attachment to get into crevices and details.

Heat guns work well for removing chalk paint due to their ability to soften multiple paint layers at once. Take precautions not to leave heat focused in one area too long to avoid damaging the wood underneath.

Tip 2: Chemical Paint Strippers Effectively Remove Layers of Paint

A realistic illustration art of a young anime character using a paint stripper to remove paint from a metal surface. The character is wearing safety goggles and gloves to protect themselves from the chemicals.

Using a chemical paint stripper is one of the most effective ways to learn how to remove chalk paint from wood. Paint strippers contain active ingredients like methylene chloride or NMP that work to soften and dissolve paint.

To use a chemical paint stripper:

  • Select a paint stripper formulated for use on wood and verify it can be used for removing chalk paint specifically.
  • Apply a thick layer of the paint stripper evenly across the surface using a paintbrush or plastic applicator.
  • Let the paint stripper sit for the recommended time outlined on the product directions as it works to bubble up the paint. This can take 15 minutes up to several hours.
  • Use a plastic paint scraper to remove the softened paint and then wipe off any remaining residue with rags.
  • Rinse the surface thoroughly with water and scrub with a wire brush to remove any leftover stripper.
  • Allow the piece to fully dry before assessing if additional paint stripping is needed.

Chemical strippers help cut through multiple layers of paint quickly but can be harsh on skin and lungs so take precautions to work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves and eye protection.

Tip 3: Sand Down Paint Layers with an Orbital Sander

A realistic illustration art of a young anime character using a chemical stripper to remove paint from a concrete surface. The character is wearing safety goggles and gloves to protect themselves from the chemicals.

If you have a large surface area to strip like wood floors or panelling, using an orbital sander can help speed up the paint removal process. The abrasion from sandpaper will slowly grind away layers of chalk paint.

Follow these tips for safely removing paint with an orbital sander:

  • Use a random orbital sander which operates in a circular and side-to-side motion to avoid leaving unsightly sanding marks.
  • Begin with a lower grit sandpaper around 80 grit to remove paint then follow up with higher grits like 120 to smooth the wood.
  • Always sand in the direction of the wood grain, holding the sander with even pressure.
  • Wipe away paint dust between sanding to assess your progress.
  • Work in sections until you’ve removed all paint and achieved a smooth sanded surface.
  • Finish by thoroughly cleaning the floor and applying a natural stain or sealant if desired.

While stripping paint with a sander takes more time and effort than chemical strippers, it can be a lower-cost option for removing chalk paint from large areas. The key is using the proper sanding technique to avoid damaging the wood underneath.

Tip 4: Use a Paint Shaver for Thick Paint Layers

A realistic illustration art of a young anime character using a sanding block to remove paint from a wooden surface. The character is wearing safety goggles and gloves to protect themselves from the dust.

If the chalk paint has been layered on thick, a paint shaver can remove the bulk of the paint much faster than sanding or scraping. Paint shavers utilize a curved blade to slice under and shave off paint without harming the wood surface.

Here’s how to use a paint shaver to remove thick chalk paint:

  • Select a paint shaver with different blade sizes and angles to tackle detailed work or larger surfaces.
  • Wedge the paint shaver under the paint at a 30-45-degree angle and carefully scrape in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Apply firm, even pressure as you push the shaver to peel up paint curls and shreds in its path.
  • Make successive passes with the blade to remove all paint down to the bare wood.
  • For hard-to-reach spots, use the corner or detail knife attachments.
  • Once the paint is removed, sand the surface lightly to smooth out any uneven spots or residue.

Paint shavers allow you to quickly strip away stubborn layers of old paint without chemicals. It does take some practice to control the depth and avoid gouging the wood. Overall, a paint shaver is an effective chalk paint removal method for large furniture pieces and thick paint.

Tip 5: Use Paint Remover Paste for Contained Areas

When stripping smaller items or hard-to-reach areas, a remover paste is ideal to target only the painted surfaces you want to strip. Paint remover paste clings to vertical and horizontal surfaces without running or dripping.

Follow these steps when using remover paste:

  • Select a remover paste specifically intended for use on wood to avoid damaging the surface.
  • Apply a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of the paste to cover painted areas using a plastic spreader or drywall knife.
  • Allow the paste to penetrate and blister the paint for 20 minutes to several hours based on product directions.
  • Use a plastic scraper to remove softened paint then wipe the surface with mineral spirits to remove any remaining paste.
  • Rinse the surface well and scrub with a nylon brush or abrasive pad to get rid of leftover residue.
  • Repeat the process if needed for stubborn paint spots.

Remover pastes cling well to detailed trim, spindles, moulding and other ornate features making them ideal for stripping chalk paint on intricate furniture pieces. Just take care to keep the paste contained to the painted surfaces only.

Tip 6: Soft Scrub with Baking Soda and Vinegar

For those looking to strip chalk paint with a non-toxic homemade option, baking soda and vinegar can work to safely soften and remove paint. The natural acidity in vinegar reacts with the alkaline baking soda to loosen the paint’s grip.

Here is how to mix up this simple paint stripper:

  • In a bowl or bucket, stir together a paste using equal parts baking soda and warm water. The texture should be thick but still spreadable.
  • Coat the entire painted surface with the baking soda paste using a plastic spreader or brush.
  • Allow the paste to sit for 5-10 minutes to penetrate the paint. Gently scrub with a nylon brush to work the paste into the grain.
  • Spray the paste with undiluted white vinegar and wait for it to bubble and fizz indicating it is actively working to strip the paint.
  • Use a plastic scraper or scrub brush to gently remove the paint slurry. Rinse the surface clean.
  • Repeat steps until you’ve removed all the unwanted chalk paint.

While this natural technique requires more hands-on effort, it’s child-safe and works well for smaller paint-stripping projects. The baking soda paste is effective at breaking the paint’s grip from the wood without harsh chemicals.

Tip 7: Rent a Paint Shaver Power Tool for Large Jobs

For extremely large paint removal jobs like stripping chalk paint from hardwood floors, walls, or ceilings, you may want to rent an industrial paint shaver power tool. These heavy-duty tools use a rotating head covered with carbide-cutting blades that simultaneously scour away paint as you guide it along.

Here are some tips for using a rented paint shaver:

  • Select the right head size and abrasiveness level for your paint removal job. Use finer grits for the final smoothing pass.
  • Carefully read and follow the rental instructions for safe operation and handling. Always wear eye protection.
  • Work in sections using straight, overlapping passes to remove paint evenly down to the bare wood.
  • Sweep and vacuum paint shavings continuously to maintain control and visibility.
  • Make final passes with increasingly finer grit heads to achieve a smooth, bare wood surface.

Renting a commercial paint shaver can strip even thick chalk paint quickly from large areas, removing hours of labour. Take precautions when operating to avoid gouging or uneven paint removal.

Tip 8: Combine Multiple Stripping Methods for Best Results

While each chalk paint removal method has its own benefits, often combining techniques gets the best results. Using both chemical and manual stripping allows you to take advantage of the unique strengths each option offers.

Here are some effective paint-stripping combinations:

  • Loosen paint with heat then scrape away softened layers
  • Apply remover paste then power wash the surface
  • Scrub the surface with baking soda paste then scrape with a paint shaver
  • Soften with orbital sander then finish with steel wool for a smooth surface

Don’t be afraid to get creative and utilize multiple techniques until you achieve the paint-free finish you desire! Test any combined methods on scrap wood before applying it to your furniture or flooring.

Tip 9: Refinish Surfaces After Paint Removal

Once you’ve successfully removed all remnants of chalk paint, consider refinishing the newly bare wood to protect it and achieve the desired look. Here are some options:

  • Apply a stain matching the wood’s original colour to enrich and seal the surface.
  • Coat with a natural oil like Danish, tung or linseed oil to accentuate wood grain.
  • Whitewash or pickle the wood using a liming technique to create an aged, beach-like appearance.
  • Seal the surface with polyurethane for a clear, protected glossy or matte finish.
  • Burnish with steel wool or sand very lightly to achieve a perfectly smooth surface.

Proper refinishing brings out the natural beauty of wood and prevents future paint build-up. Select your preferred finish based on the look you want and the condition of the stripped raw wood.


How long does it take to remove chalk paint from wood?

The time it takes to remove chalk paint from wood will vary depending on the thickness of the paint, the type of wood, and the method you use. In general, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to remove chalk paint completely.

What are the risks of removing chalk paint from wood?

There are a few risks associated with removing chalk paint from wood. First, the paint stripper can be harmful to your health if it is not used properly. It is important to wear gloves, goggles, and a mask when using a paint stripper. Second, the paint stripper can damage the wood if it is not used carefully. It is important to test the paint stripper in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it does not damage the wood.

What are the best tools for removing chalk paint from wood?

The best tools for removing chalk paint from wood will depend on the method you choose. If you are using a heat gun, you will need a putty knife or scraper. If you are using a paint stripper, you will need a brush or roller to apply the stripper and a scraper to remove the paint. If you are sanding, you will need a sanding block or power sander.


Removing chalk paint from wood can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and products, it is very doable. The key is to act quickly before the paint has time to fully adhere to the wood surface.

The best method is to try and remove the chalk paint when it is still wet or within 24-48 hours of application. This will allow you to use milder removal methods like warm soapy water, mineral spirits, or liquid paint strippers. Scrubbing with steel wool or sandpaper will help remove the layers of paint.

For fully cured chalk paint, stronger chemical strippers are often needed to penetrate and strip the paint down to the wood grain. Apply a thick layer, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and scrub away with steel wool. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and exercise safety precautions when using harsh chemicals.

With a little elbow grease, you can successfully remove chalk paint from furniture or other wood surfaces. Taking your time and using the proper products will allow you to strip the paint without damaging the wood underneath. Now you can refinish or paint over the piece to give it a beautiful new look.

So don’t despair if your chalk-painted project doesn’t turn out as planned. Learn how to remove it properly, and you can easily start over with a clean slate. With some extra care and effort, you can still achieve the distressed painted look you love.

To recap, work quickly before the paint fully cures, use mild soap and water, mineral spirits, or liquid strippers for wet paint.

Arm yourself with chemical paint strippers and steel wool for fully cured chalk paint. With the right approach and techniques, you can successfully remove chalk paint from wood furniture or surfaces.

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About Mohammad Sameer

My name is Mohammad Sameer, the founder of SoundproofGears. My hypersensitive hearing turned me into a lifelong seeker of silence. After years of research, I've become an expert on soundproofing techniques and materials. In November 2022 I launched this site to share my knowledge and help others find acoustic sanctuary. About More