How to Remove Paint from Wood Trim? (3 Methods)

While painting floors, paint can splatter into wood trims. So, how to remove paint from wood trims?

To remove fresh paint from wood trims, wipe the paint off with a damp rag. To remove dry (or old) paint from wood trim, use an alcohol-based solvent, chemical-based paint stripper, or sand the paint off.

The paint removal method depends on the paint type. For instance, water-based paints can be removed with soapy water. But, to remove oil-based paint, you must use a solvent-based paint stripper.

You Don’t Need Take Take Off The Wood Trim

You don’t need to take off the wood trim to remove paint from it. If you have the right tools and supplies, you can remove paint, stain, or sealer from wood trim without removing it.

While removing paint from trims, you must cover the floors with a drop sheet or a cloth to prevent solvent stains. This is because if you pour the solvent over the floor, you will remove paint from the floor too.

However, if the paint stain is too large or you want to re-paint the wood trim, you must remove it. That’s because you can accidentally stain the floors.

Removing wood trims can be time-consuming because you must pull the nails out of the wood. Doing this can damage the floor, so it’s best to remove paint from trims without taking them off. 

3 Best Methods To Remove Paint From Wood Trim

The best way to remove paint from trims is to wipe it off immediately after it drops on the wood trim. However, if the paint is dry or old, you must use an alcohol-based solvent or sand the paint off. 

1. Sand Off The Paint

Sand Off The Paint

Sanding will remove wet and old paint stains from the wood trims. Fine-grit sandpaper will gradually wear and remove the paint off the wood trim, leaving a smooth and clean surface behind.

For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • A pair of gloves
  • A face mask
  • A vacuum or duster
  • A cover cloth.

Here is a step-by-step guide for this method:

  1. Prep the Workspace – Cover the floor around the trim with a cloth. The cover cloth will prevent the dust and paint from staining the floor. Also, you must wear safety goggles. 
  2. Start Sanding – Using fine-grit sandpaper, sand the stained spot on the wood trim. While sanding, the paint will gradually wear off. Once the paint is removed, stop sanding, as you can damage the trim.
  3. Clean the Wood Trim – After sanding, clean the wood trim and remove dust. To clean a wood trim, use microfiber or polishing cloth to buff and polish the trim. 

2. Dissolve And Wipe Off The Paint

Dissolve And Wipe Off The Paint

You can use an alcohol-based solvent to strip paint off wood trims. Alcohol is a natural paint remover that will dissolve and remove paint stains. If the wood trim is painted (with another paint), you must be careful while applying the alcohol-based solvent as it can remove the other paint too.

The alcohol-based solvent will penetrate (soak) into the paint finish and dissolve the paint particles. Once the paint particles are dissolved, the paint will liquefy, and you can wipe it off.

For this method, you need these tools and supplies:

  • Rags
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nylon bags
  • A pair of gloves

Here is the step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean the wood trim. 
  2. Damp a clean rag with alcohol-based solvent. 
  3. Use the dampened rag to wipe the paint off the wood trim, 
  4. Let the alcohol-based solvent sit (stay) on the wood trim for 10 minutes. 
  5. After 10 minutes, use a dry rag to wipe off the paint from the trims. 
  6. Clean the wood trim with clean water to remove alcohol-based solvent residue. 

3. Strip The Paint Off

Strip The Paint Off

You can use a paint stripper to remove paint from the wood trim. However, you must only use this method to remove large paint stains or finishes. If the paint stain is small, use a different method. 

The paint stripper will penetrate the paint finish and start to dry. While the paint stripper is drying, it removes the bond between the paint and the surface. Once the paint stripper dries, you can scrape it off, and the paint will get removed too.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Paint stripper
  • Angled paintbrushes
  • Rags
  • A paint scrapper or putty knife

Here is a step-by-step guide for this method:

  1. Clean the wood trim to remove dust and filth.
  2. Using an angled paintbrush, apply the paint stripper over the paint you want to remove. 
  3. Wait 20 minutes. 
  4. After 20 minutes, the paint stripper will absorb and dry over the paint. 
  5. Use a plastic paint scraper to scrape the paint stripper (and the paint) from the surface. 
  6. Use a damp rag to remove the leftover paint from the surface. 
  7. Remove the paint stripper residue from the wood trim.

Here are a few other products and supplies that can be used to remove paint from wood trim:

  1. Goo Gone
  2. Diluted Vinegar
  3. Paint remover (liquid and spray types)
  4. Dish soap (for fresh paint stains)
  5. CitriStrip paint and stain remover.

Preventing Paint From Getting To Wood Trims

Preventing paint splashes while painting the floors (or walls) is a good idea. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use Paint Shields – Paint shields act as a “shield” between the paint and the surface. You can use cardboard, plank, wood board, or plywood as a paint shield. To use a paint shield, cover the wood trim with the paint shield while painting. This prevents the paint from going on the wood trim. 
  2. Use Drop Sheets – You can place drop sheets or covers cloths over the wood trim to prevent paint from staining the surface. You must use a waterproof drop sheet made of nylon. The drop sheet will collect the paint splashes. 
  3. Clean Immediately – If paint splashes into the wood trims, you must remove it immediately. Paint takes 30-60 minutes to dry on a wooden surface, so to prevent paint stains, wipe it off.
  4. Use The Right Applicator – The best way to apply paint on small surfaces such as wood trim is to use a paintbrush. That’s because you can control where the paint goes with a paintbrush. However, using a paint roller or sprayer, you can’t control where the paint goes.
  5. Use Masking Tape – Just like a paint shield and drop sheet, masking tape will also prevent paint from staining a surface. The masking tape will collect all the paint splashes that fall near the wood trim. Once you are done painting, you can remove the masking tape together with the paint and have paint-free wood trim. 

Final Words

Removing paint from wood trim isn’t hard, but you must use the right method. For small and medium paint stains, use sanding or an alcohol-based solvent. For large paint stains, use sanding or a paint stripper. 

The type of paint also matters; water-based paints can be removed with soapy water. However, to remove oil-based paints, you must use a solvent.

The condition of the paint also matters; if the paint is still wet, you can wipe it off with a clean rag. However, if the paint is dry, you must use a solvent to remove it.

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