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The best paint stripper you can buy in 2024

Best paint stripper - Lead image

Remove paint and clean surfaces with the best paint stripper options for walls, wood, metal and more

Nothing enlivens your indoor and outdoor spaces, or your furniture, quite like a fresh lick of paint, so if your living room, garden wall or favourite chair no longer have that sparkle, it may be time for a fresh coat. To prepare your surfaces for painting, however, you’ll need the best paint stripper for the job. Whether you’ve got some high-quality paint for turning your masonry magenta, your bathroom blue or your kitchen khaki, be sure to check out our list and get the right product to clean and prep your surfaces.

If you have any questions about using paint stripper or are unsure about what kind would work best for you, be sure to check our handy guide just below. A short scroll further down the page you’ll find mini reviews of our favourite paint strippers, where we break down the strengths, special features and best uses of paint stripper for masonry, metal, wood and more.

Best paint stripper: At a glance

How to choose the best paint stripper for you

What is paint stripper, and why do I need to use it?

Paint stripper is a chemical product used to remove paint, varnish, glue and other coatings, as well as general dirt and dust, from painted surfaces and treated furniture. Removing old paint and varnish build-up is often important for repainting, as fresh layers of paint or varnish may not adhere properly until your surface is stripped back. Paint stripper is a handy product for using on anything that would be potentially damaged by, or otherwise unsuitable for, physical removal methods such as scraping, sanding or power-washing.

What are the different types of paint stripper?

There are two broad categories of paint stripper: solvent-based and caustic-based. The one you’ll need to use is dependent on the material of the surface you’re applying it to, the condition of the surface and what type of paint is being removed.

Solvent-based: This type of paint stripper works by weakening the bond between the surface and the paint. Solvent-based strippers work effectively on paint, epoxies and varnishes, removing them from surfaces such as wood, metal and masonry. These strippers tend to have harsh chemical smells and are generally more expensive. Common solvents used in paint strippers are benzyl alcohol and n-butyl acetate. Water-based strippers fall within the category of solvent-based, as water acts in the solvent in this case; these strippers may also contain small amounts of chemicals, but not nearly as much as traditional solvent strippers.

Caustic-based: This type of paint stripper works differently to solvent-based ones, breaking down chemicals in the paint with a highly alkaline active ingredient, such as sodium hydroxide. Caustic-based strippers are best suited to breaking down oil-based paints, and work best on masonry surfaces, such as brick and concrete. Two surfaces where caustic strippers should be avoided are aluminium, which can be eroded by caustic chemicals, and hardwood, which can be blackened or otherwise discoloured by caustic formulations. Most strippers in the UK, however, are non-caustic.

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What safety precautions should be taken when using paint stripper?

As with most chemical products, certain precautions must be taken when using paint strippers. First and foremost, always follow the instructions on the bottle or tin and safety information on the datasheet provided by the manufacturer. While safety advice might differ slightly from product to product, generally, you should avoid contact with the skin and eyes by wearing thick work gloves and safety glasses, avoid inhaling fumes and only use paint stripper in a well-ventilated space or with the proper breathing apparatus. You’ll also want to avoid open flames, as some paint strippers are highly flammable.

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How do I apply paint stripper?

Paint stripper should be applied with a disposable paint brush, using short strokes and moving in one direction – for application on wood, move in the direction of the grain. While the instructions on the stripper itself will give you the clearest specifications, generally speaking, solvent-based strippers will require a thinner layer and shorter wait time, while caustic-based products require a thicker application and a longer wait time. After applying and gently scraping or otherwise washing off the paint, your surface may need to be cleansed with white spirit, or in the case of high-PH caustic strippers, a neutralising agent, before being repainted.

While you may be certain you’ve chosen the right product for the job, it’s always a good idea to perform a small patch test on the surface or object, ensuring that the chosen stripper will not damage or discolour your surface.

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The best paint stripper you can buy in 2024

1. Barrettine Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover: Best overall paint stripper

Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at AmazonBest paint stripper - Barrettine Paint PantherBarretine’s Paint Panther is a favourite among DIYers and professionals, providing fast-acting and effective removal of water and oil-based coatings, such as metal and hammer type paints, acrylics and polyurethane. 500ml of this paint and varnish remover should effectively strip up to 1.5m² of coating from metal, wood and masonry surfaces, depending on the paint type and number of coats. Paint Panther can tackle standard tasks quickly, working in 10 to 15 minutes, with more layered and intense jobs taking up to 40 minutes. One thing to note: while Paint Panther is suitable for most paint types and surfaces, it isn’t suitable for use on plastic or fibreglass.

Key details – Size: 1l; Type: Solvent-based; Form: Gel

2. Bartoline TX10 Paint and Varnish Stripper: Best paint stripper for masonry

Price when reviewed: £24 (2pk) | Check price at AmazonBest paint stripper - Bartoline TX10 Paint and Varnish StripperThis water-based stripper from Bartoline is simple to use, versatile and comes with some handy extras. Effective for both indoor and outdoor use, TX10 can remove up to 1m² of coating per litre from a range of surfaces including glass, metal, wood, brick concrete and plaster, with DIYers singling out its effectiveness on masonry surfaces in particular.

It is, admittedly, on the slower end of the scale in terms of removal time, taking between one and two hours depending on the amount of layers it’s tackling. This is balanced out somewhat by its biodegradability and very low odour levels, making it more environmentally friendly and more pleasant to use for longer periods. This particular bundle also comes with a handy sanding block, some latex gloves and a Decorator’s Friend tip card with some handy tricks for paint removal.

Key details – Size: 2 x 500ml; Type: Solvent-based (water); Extras: Sanding block, rubber gloves, tip sheet; Form: Gel

3. Enviromose Pro Grade Paint Stripper: Best versatile paint stripper

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at BrewersIf you haven’t used a paint stripper before, or are generally unused to handling potentially dangerous chemicals, Enviromose could be a solid option for you. With a lower odour and less harsh on skin, eyes and lungs than regular paint strippers, this water-based stripper is a safety-conscious alternative that still provides solid removal power. In fact, Enviromose claims it’s good for removing up to 20 layers of paint. What makes this product stand out most is its versatility, as its milder formula makes it suitable for removing paint, lacquer, varnish, stain, powder coatings and artex finishes from wood, brick, stone, PVC plastics, aluminium, car bodies and more.

Key details – Size: 1l; Type: Solvent-based (water); Form: Gel

4. Rustins Strypit: Best paint stripper for metal

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at AmazonBest paint stripper - Rustins StrypitRustins Strypit is a strong, effective and straightforward paint stripper. It has one of the best coverage ratios of any stripper on this list, with 1l removing multiple coats from up to 5m² of surface area. It should take between five to 10 minutes for jobs with fewer than five layers, and up to 45 minutes for more involved tasks. Strypit can be used on wood, glass, masonry surfaces and metal, with users finding it particularly effective on the latter.

As it’s one of the stronger formulas on this list, we remind you use appropriate caution when using Strypit, referring to the usage instructions and safety data sheet for more information.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Type: Solvent-based; Form: Gel

5. Liberon Fine Wood Stripper: Best paint stripper for wood

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at AmazonBest paint stripper - Liberon Fine Wood StripperFine furniture, delicate decking and expensive flooring are just some of the wooden surfaces we like to keep fresh-looking and unblemished, so while many strippers on this list are versatile and perfectly suitable for use on wood, it’s a smart idea to opt for a more specific option for such surfaces, just in case your wood is particularly delicate.

Boasting a wood-friendly formula and speedy stripping time of between five and 30 minutes, Liberon’s key feature is that it effectively blisters paint and varnish, making it simple to remove with light brushing and scraping, thus preserving your wooden surfaces.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Type: Solvent-based; Form: Gel

6. Barrettine Peelaway 7: Best low-odour paint stripper

Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at AmazonBest paint stripper - Barrettine Peelaway 7Peelaway 7 is a unique, low-odour paint stripper. Rather than being painted on in a thin layer like most gel paint strippers, Peelaway is applied as a thick poultice and then, as its name suggests, peeled away to remove paint and other coatings. Suitable for metal, wood, brick, stone, plaster and more, it’s especially useful for delicate tasks, such as restoration work and the removal of paint from intricate areas such as mouldings, cornices and crevices. This biodegradable stripper is suitable for most paint types and can be left to sit for 30 minutes to 48 hours, depending on its efficacy in a patch test.

Key details – Size: 750g; Type: Solvent-based; Form: Poultice

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