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Paint Removal

Whether you're sprucing up your home, restoring some antiques, or preparing a surface for a fresh coat of paint, knowing the ins and outs of effective paint removal can be incredibly helpful. 

In our guide below, we'll take you through various paint removal methods and shed light on the benefits of professional paint removal by a painter, helping you make the best decisions for your next project.


  • Paint types and surfaces
  • Paint removal methods
  • Choosing the right technique
  • Tips for safe paint removal
  • Choosing a professional paint removal company
  • How much does paint removal cost?
  • FAQs


Paint Types and Surfaces

Before diving into paint removal techniques, let's get familiar with the different paint types and surface materials, and how they behave during removal.

Latex Paint 

Latex paint, also known as water-based paint, is a popular choice for interior and exterior surfaces due to its ease of use and quick drying time. It’s composed of water and synthetic resins, making it easy to clean up with water and soap. Latex paint is commonly used on walls, ceilings, and other common household surfaces. 

When it comes to paint removal, latex paint tends to be relatively easier to work with compared to oil-based and enamel paints. Its water-based nature allows for various removal methods without causing significant damage to the underlying surface.

Oil-Based Paint 

Oil-based paint is made with solvents and oil-based resins. It has been a traditional choice for both interior and exterior applications, especially in areas with high traffic or exposure to moisture. While it offers a durable finish, removing oil-based paint can be more challenging due to its strong adhesion to surfaces. 

Special care needs to be taken when dealing with oil-based paint removal, as some methods may involve the use of harsh chemicals and proper ventilation to prevent health hazards.

Enamel Paint 

Enamel paint is a type of oil-based paint that contains varnish, resulting in a hard, glossy finish. It is often used for high-traffic surfaces such as doors, trims, and furniture. The glossy surface adds durability and a polished look to the painted object. 

Removing enamel paint can be particularly tricky due to its tough finish. Specific techniques and tools may be necessary to effectively strip enamel paint without damaging the underlying surface.

Learn more: Choosing The Best Finish For Your Paint Job


Wood is a versatile and commonly used material in various applications, including furniture, trim, doors, and decks. When removing paint from wood surfaces, the goal is to preserve the wood's integrity and avoid causing scratches or gouges. 

Wood surfaces are relatively sensitive to harsh chemicals or abrasive methods, so it is essential to choose removal techniques that are gentle yet effective. Heat guns and chemical paint strippers can be useful for wood surfaces, but careful attention is needed to avoid scorching or warping the wood.


Metal surfaces can include steel, iron, aluminium, or other alloys. When dealing with metal surfaces, paint removal needs to consider the paint and the potential for rust and corrosion. 

Some metal surfaces may require additional steps such as sanding or using rust inhibitors to prevent further damage. Abrasive techniques like sandblasting or chemical paint removers are often used for metal surfaces, but appropriate safety measures must be taken to protect against fumes or particles.


Concrete surfaces are prevalent in building exteriors, floors, and driveways. Removing paint from concrete can be challenging because of its porous nature, which allows paint to seep into the surface. Pressure washing, sandblasting, or chemical stripping are common methods for concrete surfaces, but care should be taken not to damage the surface's texture or create uneven areas.

Learn more: How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Exterior Painter?

Paint Removal Methods


Scraping is a manual paint removal method that involves using a flat-edged tool, such as a putty knife or scraper, to peel off loose or flaking paint from the surface. While it’s suitable for small areas and delicate surfaces like wood, it may not be as effective on stubborn or thick paint layers.

Chemical Paint Strippers 

Chemical paint strippers are liquid solutions that dissolve paint, allowing for easier removal. They work well on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and masonry. However, they can emit strong fumes and require careful application to avoid damage to the surface and ensure safety during use.

Heat Guns 

Heat guns produce a stream of hot air, softening the paint and making it easier to scrape off. This method is effective for removing paint from intricate or contoured surfaces, but caution is necessary to avoid overheating or scorching the material.


Sanding involves using abrasive materials like sandpaper to wear down the paint layer until it’s smooth. It works best on flat surfaces and can be time-consuming, but it provides excellent control over the amount of paint removed.

Power Washing 

Power washing, or pressure washing, utilises a high-pressure stream of water to blast away paint from surfaces like concrete and metal. It is an efficient method for large areas but may not be suitable for more delicate surfaces due to potential damage from the force of the water.


Sandblasting involves propelling abrasive particles at high speed to remove paint from surfaces. It’s particularly effective on metal and concrete but should be done with caution as it can create a lot of dust and may damage softer materials.

Infrared Paint Removal 

Infrared heat technology uses heat lamps to warm the paint, causing it to bubble and loosen, facilitating easy removal. This method is gentle on surfaces and works well for lead-based paint removal, but the equipment can be expensive.

When choosing a paint removal method, consider the type of paint, the surface material, the size of the area, and the available tools and equipment. Additionally, always prioritise safety and use appropriate protective gear, especially when dealing with chemicals or dust-producing methods.

Choosing the Right Technique

With so many techniques at your disposal, there are certain factors to help you choose the right one:

Surface Condition

Firstly, evaluate the surface condition carefully. Delicate or older surfaces may require gentler methods like scraping or chemical paint strippers to avoid damage, while tougher surfaces may benefit from heat guns or sandblasting for efficient removal. 

Environmental Considerations

Take into account the potential environmental impact of the chosen method. Some methods, such as chemical paint strippers, may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and should be used in well-ventilated areas to minimise environmental impact. Opt for eco-friendly methods whenever possible to minimise harm to the environment.

Health and Safety Precautions

Prioritise health and safety precautions, especially when dealing with methods involving chemicals, heat, or abrasives. Always wear appropriate protective gear, provide sufficient ventilation, and follow manufacturer guidelines to mitigate potential hazards.

Scope of the Project

Consider the scope of your project. For small-scale tasks, manual methods like scraping or sanding may be suitable, while larger projects might necessitate the use of power tools or professional services. 

Tailoring your paint removal approach based on these factors will help ensure an effective, environmentally responsible, and safe process.


Tips for Safe Paint Removal

  • Wear protective gear: Always wear appropriate protective gear, including gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator, to safeguard yourself from exposure to chemicals, dust, and fumes during the paint removal process.
  • Adequate ventilation: Ensure that the area where you're working has proper ventilation. Open windows and use fans to promote air circulation, especially when using chemical paint strippers or any method that may produce fumes.
  • Test for lead: If you’re working on an older surface, particularly one painted before the late 1970s, test for lead paint before starting any removal process. Lead paint can be hazardous, and special precautions should be taken if it is present.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions: Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines for any paint removal products or tools you use. Improper use can lead to accidents or less effective results.
  • Work in sections: Divide larger surfaces into manageable sections for paint removal. This allows you to concentrate on one area at a time, ensuring thoroughness and control over the process.
  • Gentle techniques for delicate surfaces: For delicate surfaces like wood or plaster, opt for gentler paint removal methods like scraping or using low-pressure power washing to avoid damage.
  • Test a small area: Before proceeding with the entire project, test your chosen paint removal method on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it works effectively without causing harm to the surface.
  • Be cautious with heat guns: If using a heat gun, exercise caution to prevent burns or fires. Keep the heat gun moving and maintain a safe distance from the surface to avoid scorching or damage.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Dispose of paint chips, debris, and waste according to local regulations. If the paint contains lead or other hazardous materials, follow specific disposal guidelines to protect the environment.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you are unsure about the best approach or if dealing with lead-based paint, complex surfaces, or a large-scale project, consider seeking professional assistance. Professional painters or restoration experts have the expertise and equipment to handle challenging paint removal tasks safely and effectively.

Choosing a Professional Paint Removal Company

When hiring a professional paint removal business, it's essential to choose a reputable and reliable company that will get the job done efficiently and safely. Here are some tips to help:

Research and Referrals 

Start by conducting thorough research online and asking for referrals from friends, family, or neighbours. Look for companies with positive reviews and a proven track record of providing quality paint removal services.

Licensing and Insurance 

Ensure that the paint removal business is properly licensed and insured. A licensed company indicates that they meet the necessary legal requirements, and insurance protects you from liability in case of accidents or damage during the job.

Experience and Expertise 

Choose a company with experience in paint removal. Look for businesses that specialise in paint stripping and have a history of handling similar projects to yours. Experienced professionals are more likely to know how to deal with various surfaces and types of paint effectively.


Check if the paint removal company has any relevant certifications or affiliations with professional organisations. Certifications can indicate a commitment to industry standards and ongoing training.

Request Quotes and Compare 

Get detailed quotes from multiple paint removal businesses. Compare the scope of work, pricing, and services offered to determine the best value for your project.

Ask for References 

Don't hesitate to ask the company for references from past clients. Contact these references to get an idea of the company's performance, reliability, and the quality of their work.

Site Visit and Assessment 

Invite potential companies to conduct a site visit and assess the paint removal project in person. A professional evaluation will help them provide a more accurate quote and ensure they understand the specifics of your project.

Safety Precautions 

Enquire about the safety measures the company takes during paint removal, especially if dealing with lead-based paint or hazardous materials. A responsible business will prioritise safety for both their workers and clients.

Contracts and Agreements 

Ensure that all terms, conditions, and expectations are clearly outlined in a written contract. This should include the scope of work, timeline, pricing, and any warranties or guarantees offered.

Communication and Customer Service 

Pay attention to the level of communication and customer service provided by the company during the hiring process. A reliable business will be responsive, professional, and willing to address any concerns or questions you may have.

How much does paint removal cost?

The cost of paint removal in Australia can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the size of the project, the type of paint to be removed, the surface material, the complexity of the job, and the location of the property. Additionally, the pricing structure may differ among paint removal businesses and contractors.

  • Manual scraping: Manual scraping for small areas can cost around $10 to $30 per square metre.
  • Chemical paint stripping: Chemical paint stripping for larger areas might range from $20 to $50 per square metre.
  • Heat gun paint removal: Using heat guns can cost around $20 to $40 per square metre.
  • Sandblasting: Sandblasting, which is typically used for more extensive projects, may cost anywhere from $40 to $100 per square metre.

It is important to note that these are just rough estimates, and actual prices may vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances of each project and the rates of individual service providers. Additionally, the cost might be higher if there are additional considerations, such as lead-based paint removal or safety precautions.

To get an accurate quote for paint removal services, it's recommended to obtain multiple quotes from different contractors in your area. This way, you can compare prices and choose a reputable company that meets your needs and budget.

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Paint Removal FAQs

Is paint removal necessary before repainting a surface?

Yes, in many cases, paint removal is essential before repainting a surface. Applying new paint over old, chipped, or peeling paint can result in an uneven finish and reduce the new paint's longevity. Proper paint removal ensures a smooth and durable surface for the fresh coat of paint.

Can I remove paint myself, or should I hire a professional?

The feasibility of DIY paint removal depends on factors such as the size of the project, your experience with paint removal methods, and the surface's condition. Small, straightforward projects may be manageable for DIY, but larger or more complex tasks, especially those involving lead-based paint, are best left to professionals with the expertise and safety measures in place.

How do I determine if the paint contains lead?

If the painted surface was applied before the late 1970s, there is a possibility that it contains lead. You can purchase a lead testing kit from hardware stores to check for lead presence. Alternatively, you can hire a certified lead inspector to conduct testing and ensure accurate results.

What are the risks associated with paint removal, especially with lead-based paint?

The risks associated with paint removal, particularly with lead-based paint, include exposure to lead dust and fumes, which can be hazardous to health, especially for children and pregnant women. Improper removal methods can also result in the spread of lead particles, increasing the risk of contamination.

What are the common paint removal methods, and which one is best for my project?

Common paint removal methods include scraping, chemical paint strippers, heat guns, sanding, and sandblasting. The best method for your project depends on factors such as the type of paint, the surface material, the condition of the surface, and any environmental or health considerations. It's crucial to assess these factors and, if unsure, seek advice from a professional paint removal service to determine the most suitable method for your specific project.

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All the costs quoted were sourced at the time this article was written. They are to be used as an AUD cost guide and may vary locally, and are subject to market changes.


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