Gilles' Outlet

April 11, 2010

Stripping Paint from Wood

Filed under: Wood Restoration and Finishing — Gilles @ 6:01 pm

Several layers of latex paint are stripped from a wood board. The boards is then washed with mineral spirits and sanded smooth.


Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: About 30 minutes (with 4 hours wait)

When wood has been painted, there are at least three ways to remove the paint: sand / scrape it, apply heat to the paint to loosen its bond to the substrate or use a chemical to soften the paint.

Paint used to contain lead and scraping / sanding paint may release fine lead dust which is harmful to humans, specifically children. Also, heating lead based paint with a heat gun can release dangerous lead based fumes of the gun is set to operate at too high of a temperature. For these reasons, I always prefer chemical stripping.

There are two kinds of chemical strippers: the “methylene chloride” based ones and the “natural” based ones. Methylene Chloride is a harsh chemical,so when possible, I always prefer more environment friendly products like Citristrip, made out of orange peels.

In this article, we give a new life to a board which would otherwise have gone straight to the landfill.

Left: The board to remove paint from. Just by looking at it, I counted at least 10 coats of paint plus some drywall texture.


Right: A quart of Citristrip. This product is all natural, made form orange peels and while the manufacturer demands gloves to be worn when using this product, it is certainly less toxic than methylene chloride.

Left: Using an old paint brush, I liberally applied Citristrip to the board. I performed this operation indoors, out of direct sunlight which could dry the product prematurely. This is important.


Right: The board covered with Citristrip. Now, we wait. The goal of paint stripping is to let the product do the work and this takes time, specifically when the coat of paint is thick.

I decided to let the product act for 4 hours.

Left: After four hours, I used a small putty knife to test the progress. The paint went right off. It is important to round off the edges of the putty knife with a file to avoid gouging the wood.


Right: Details of the paint being removed. It makes some sort of viscous goop which can be scraped easily. I use newspaper to collect the goop and I disposed them in the garbage.

The paint was hiding what seems to be vertical grain fir. Someone thought this board was only junk but I knew better and saved it from going to the landfill.

Left: After scraping all the paint, I cleaned the board with a paper towel soaked in mineral spirits. This removed residues of dissolved paint from the wood.

I then went outdoors and washed the board with clear cold water to remove all traces of Citristrip. I let the board dry for several hours.


Right: I sanded the board with 60 grit sand paper first and then 120 grit. This removed all traces of paint goop which seeped into wood pores.

This board (as well as similar others) will be used to build a new coffee table.

Tools Used:

  • Putty knife with edges rounded over.
  • Old paint brush.
  • Power Sander.

Materials Used:

  • Citristrip.
  • Mineral spirits.
  • Sand paper: 60grit and 120 grit.


Patching Holes in Drywall

Filed under: Drywall — Gilles @ 4:19 am

Holes in drywall are patched with joint compound.


Skill Level: 1~2 (Very Basic ~ Basic)

Time Taken: About 1 hour

Most people like to hang items on walls. This typically requires to drill holes in drywall. When items are removed, those holes need to be patched. This article describes how such holes can be concealed using only basic tools and inexpensive joint compound. This article also shows how a good repair looks like from the inside of the wall.

While the actual repair time did not exceed an hour, it was spread over a few days because the joint compound needs to be perfectly dry between coats.

Left: The starting point of this project: there used to be a magazine holder at this location. When the previous owner removed it, he/she could not be bothered patching the hole or removing anchors.


Right: One of the anchors seen from the back of the wall. This wall had to be opened during a remodel. We will be able to see the repair from the inside of the wall.

Left: I used a pair of pliers to remove the anchors. I pulled slowly and to tried not to make more damage than necessary. I made sure to remove the entire anchor.


Right: Anchors are gone, but they left two fairly large holes. These are the holes we will be patching.

Left: One of the holes, seen from inside of the wall. It is fairly deep.


Right: I removed all loose material and cut the drywall paper flush with a putty knife.

It is very important that all loose material be removed and that the repair is flush with the wall. Otherwise, the repair will appear obvious.

Left: Using a stiff 2’’ putty knife, I applied all purpose joint compound. I made sure to press the compound into both holes.


Right: A view of the area after joint compound was applied. I overfilled on purpose: joint compound has a tendency to shrink as it dries. The excess can be removed after it has dried.

Left: From the inside of the wall, we can see that the compound has been forced into the hole and filled it completely. This is required for a long lasting repair.


Right: I let the compound dry for about 8 hours. Using a slightly wet sponge, I sponge sanded the area in order to remove the overfill. This allowed me to remove most of the excess compound without making any dust. Also, since the wall is textured, the sponge will not damage the surrounding area.

It is also possible to use sand paper to remove the excess. In this case, be sure to use a dust mask: joint compound dust is bad for lungs.

Left: Large holes require multiple coats of joint compound. After another sponge sanding, I applied another coat, still overfilling.


Right: The compound was allowed to dry, and was sponge sanded one more time.

Left: Details of the repair after two coats: the hole is mostly filled and flush with the surrounding area but there is still a little dimple at the center of the hole.


Right: I applied one last coat of joint compound, again, overfilling the area.

Left: The compound was allowed to dry, and was sponge sanded one last time. At this point, the hole was entirely filled and the repair flush with the wall.

The wall is textured so I used texture spray can to touch up the area. See “Repairing Orange Peel Wall texture”. 

Right: The finished repair, after a coat of paint. It is almost impossible to know that repairs were made.

Tools Used:

  • 2’’ stiff putty knife.
  • Pliers.
  • Sponge
  • Water Bucket (4 qts).

Materials Used:

  • All purpose joint compound.
  • Water.

Blog at