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Using a heat gun to strip paint :: Posted by: Admin on March 24th, 2014

3 point triangle scraper

Using a heat gun to strip paint

Heat guns, hot air gun or hot-air strippers as they are sometimes called are a way of removing paint from woodwork by using hot air, they are a better way of stripping paint than using a naked flame such as a blowtorch. Heat guns come with nozzles that can direct, and protect areas you do not wish to remove the paint and also from overheating glass panels and cracking the glass.

Many heat guns have two heat settings to allow more control over the removal of paint. If you buy a heat gun you will normally get a scraper with the gun, depending on model and price of the gun the amount of accessories you get with it will vary. As a basic tool you should use a triangle three pointed scraper, this will allow you to do basic paint stripping from large areas and moulded areas, you can buy other scrapers with different profiles to them for more detailed work or even a scrapper that allows you to change the end for your needs.

Temperature control

A good heat gun will allow you to choose different heat settings, normally low or high, these different heat temperatures will allow the gun only to heat up to a certain temperature giving you more control on the heat required for a given situation.

Heat guns can range in temperatures from around 10 – 500 ℃ (50 – 1000 ℉) so caution should be used when using heat guns.

Safety First

When using any heat tool safety should be observed. You should always be aware of your surroundings when using a heat gun. You should wear gloves, safety goggles or glasses, cover bare skin by wearing overalls, wear sensible shoes or boots, move any flammable items out of the way (such as curtains, carpet), have a fire extinguisher beside you. Ensure you only strip paint in well ventilated areas. Don’t put any part of you body in front of the airflow of the gun as this will cause injury.

Be aware of how old the paint you are stripping is, does it contain lead? Even though the topcoat may be modern, subsequent layers may be pre 1960 and contain lead. You can find more information on wikipedia about lead paint in the UK.

When stripping paint, the paint will get hot and sticky, it may even burn, be aware of the paint falling to the floor, protect the floor and keep an eye on smouldering paint. The scraper will also get hot as you use it so do not touch the end.

Be aware that the end of the gun will remain extremely hot for a period of time so do not lay it down on flammable surfaces such as carpet or dust sheets. Look out for heat guns that come with a stand when buying one, this will allow you to stand the gun safely whilst it cools down.

Heat Gun

Using a heat gun

Firstly you should you follow the safety instruction that come with your heat gun.

Use the appropriate heat setting, nozzle or shield and scraper for the job you are doing. Gently heat the paint with the heat gun ensuring you keep it moving to avoid scorching or burning the wood. As the paint bubbles and blisters scrape it off with the scraper and if required go back over the area to remove further layers.

Be aware of any glass as heating the glass will cause it to crack or shatter.

Once the paint is removed you can sand the wood smooth with sandpaper and then paint or varnish as required.

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Posted in DIY Tips | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Using a heat gun to strip paint”

  1. Andrew Chivers Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 7:52 am

    If there is lead paint present do not use a hot air stripper at all! Lead fumes are very hazardous.

  2. Alan Says:
    October 11th, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    How can I a remove varnish using a heat gun from the wood close to the carpets without scorching them

  3. Admin Says:
    October 11th, 2020 at 3:44 pm


    My advice would be to lift the edge and roll it back, burn off then replace if you don’t want to lift the entire carpet.

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