How to Remove Chalk Paint From Wood? (3 Methods)

Having faded chalk paint on your wood makes the surface ugly and it’s even worse when the chalk paint is starting to peel off. So how do you remove chalk paint from a wooden surface?

You can remove chalk paint from wood easily by sanding the chalk paint off with either medium-grit or coarse-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper will gradually wear the chalk paint until it is completely off.

Sanding is ideal for removing a few coats of chalk paint. You can also remove chalk paint from wood by using a paint stripper or a paint-removing solvent. These are chemical-based products that will remove multiple coats of chalk paint from wood. However, chemical removers must be used based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

This post reveals more ways to remove chalk paint from wood. Let’s dive in.

Can You Remove Chalk Paint Without Sanding?

Can You Remove Chalk Paint Without Sanding?

You can remove chalk paint without sanding. To do this, you’ll have to use paint strippers or paint removing solvents on the chalk paint. These products are usually formulated with additives like methylene chloride and alcohol that remove chalk paint very quickly. You should know that though you can remove chalk paint without sanding, sanding is often the best method to use.

When it comes to removing flat paints like chalk from wood, sanding is often the first method that is tried out. This is because sandpaper removes chalk paint quickly and sanding also makes the wood surface smooth after removing the chalk paint. This is why sanding is very common.

But, it’s not the only method that removes chalk paint from wood. You can also remove chalk paint from wood without sanding. To do this, you’ll have to use a chemical-based paint remover. Chemical-based paint removers like paint thinner and paint stripper are formulated with paint-removing chemicals that dissolve and remove multiple coats of chalk paint in one go.

However, you should know that many of these chemicals often discolor and sometimes etch the wooden surface after removing the chalk paint especially if you leave the chemical-based paint remover on the wood too long.

As an expert tip, only use chemical-based paint removers when removing chalk paints from large wood boards and floors. For small surfaces and furniture, remove the chalk paint by sanding.

Does Chalk Paint Come Off Easily?

Chalk paint comes off easily as long as you use the right paint-removal method. Chalk paints are flat water-based paints meaning that the chalk finish doesn’t have a sealant or waterproof coat like oil-based paints.

Since there is no waterproof protective layer on the chalk, it’s easier to remove it either by sanding or using chemical-based paint removers. You should know that sealed chalk paints are tougher to remove.

Flat paints are paints that have a very low sheen or gloss. Since chalk paints don’t have gloss, the paint doesn’t develop any glossy top coat that protects it as oil-based paints do. So, it becomes easier to remove chalk paint.

However, if the chalk paint was sealed with a sealant or buffed with wax, then it becomes difficult to remove it because in this case, there is a waterproof protective sealant on the chalk paint making it more difficult to remove.

Next, let’s check out how to remove chalk paint from wood.

How To Remove Chalk Paint From Wood?

Here are the top 3 methods to remove chalk paint from wood:

  1. Sand the chalk paint off with sandpaper
  2. Strip the chalk paint off with a paint stripper
  3. Dissolve the chalk paint using a paint-removing solvent.

This guide will show you how to use all three methods and the tools and supplies that you’ll need for each method.

Method 1: Sand The Chalk Paint Off

Sand The Chalk Paint Off

The first method you should try out when trying to remove chalk paint from wood is sanding. Not only does this method remove the chalk paint but it also gives you a smooth wooden surface that is ready to be stained with very little prep work required. This method involves using sandpaper grit to wear the chalk paint off of the wood.

For this method, you’ll need these:

  • Sandpaper
  • A power sander only (for large wooden surfaces like floors and walls)
  • A vacuum or duster
  • Rags
  • Wood filler

Here is how to sand off chalk paint from wood:

  1. Wipe and clean the painted surface with cleaning rags
  2. Attach the fine sandpaper to the sander (for large wood surfaces)
  3. Sand the chalk paint off of the wood surface repeatedly – don’t sand with force or you’ll gouge the wood
  4. Remove dust using a vacuum
  5. Sand the wood again with finer sandpaper
  6. Remove dust and re-stain wood if needed

Tip: Sanding is ideal when removing about 2-3 coats of chalk paint. If there are multiple coats of chalk paint, sanding off will prove difficult because the chalk paint will dull the sandpaper. Also, sanding multiple coats of chalk paint can spew paint and dust particles around the room.

Method 2: Strip The Chalk Paint Off With a Paint Stripper

Strip The Chalk Paint Off With a Paint Stripper

The second method to remove chalk paint from wood is to strip the paint off using paint strippers. Paint stripers are chemical-based products that include chemicals that can dissolve and remove paint from wood like methylene chloride.

When the paint stripper is applied over the chalk paint, it will soak in and dissolve the chalk paint causing it to bubble and lose its bond to the surface. When this happens, you can either scrape or wipe the chalk paint off of the wood.

Here are the tools and supplies that you’ll need:

  • A chemical-based paint stripper
  • A Paintbrush
  • Rags
  • Mineral spirits
  • A paint scraper
  • A plastic bag

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe the painted area on the wood repeatedly to remove loose dirt and debris
  2. Prep the paint stripper based on the manufacturer’s instructions – usually, you can apply the paint stripper directly from its container
  3. Apply two coats of the paint stripper with a paintbrush – after applying, use a putty knife to press the paste gently into the chalk paint
  4. Wait for a few minutes for the paint stripper to work – check the manufacturer’s instructions
  5. After the paint stripper has dissolved and absorbed the paint, you can scrape it off of the wood
  6. Put the scraped paint in a waterproof bag and inspect the wood
  7. If there is leftover chalk paint, repeat the steps above
  8. After stripping the paint, neutralize the chemicals on the wood with mineral spirits
  9. Leave the wood to dry.

Tip: Ensure to use the paint striper in a well-ventilated environment to prevent a buildup of toxins and chemical fumes in the house.

Method 3: Remove The Chalk Paint With A Solvent

Remove The Chalk Paint With A Solvent

The third easy method to use when removing chalk paint from wood is a solvent. There are many types of solvents out there that can dissolve and remove chalk paint but the best and safest solvent is acetone.

Being an alcohol-based solvent, acetone is a natural paint remover that will dissolve and remove paint from wood. For this method, you’ll need these:

  • A waterproof bag
  • Paint scraper
  • Acetone
  • Rags
  • A bowl

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe and clean the painted spot with a clean rag to remove dirt and debris
  2. Pour some acetone into a bowl and dip a clean rag in the bowl
  3. After the rag has soaked the acetone, squeeze out the excess acetone
  4. Use the damp rag to wipe the chalk paint repeatedly and leave for a few minutes
  5. When the chalk paint starts to bubble and peel off, you should scrape it off of the wood with a paint scraper
  6. Put the scraped chalk paint and acetone in a waterproof bag for proper disposal
  7. Rub some acetone on leftover chalk paint and scrape it off
  8. When the paint is off, wait for the wood to dry, and sand lightly before re-staining.

Tip: You should know that paint thinner can also work in place of acetone but paint thinner requires more expertise since it is stronger than acetone.

Other Products You Can Use To Remove Chalk Paint From Wood:

Vinegar

A mix of vinegar can remove chalk paint from wood. To do this, you’ll have to mix the vinegar with warm water and leave it to settle. After you’ll need to use a paintbrush or rag to wipe the chalk paint with the vinegar solution. Wait a few minutes for the chalk paint to dissolve and then wipe off the paint and the vinegar from the wood with a rag.

You should know that vinegar is a mild acid and as such should be used carefully on a porous material like wood. Also, wipe the vinegar residue off of the wood after removing the paint to prevent discoloration of the wood.

White Spirits

White spirits can remove chalk paint but you’ll need another medium alongside the white spirits. The ideal medium is steel wool. Steel wool and white spirits will remove chalk paint but you should test this on a hidden spot on the wood before using it on the entire wood.

White spirit is not a very strong solvent. As such, using it to remove multiple coats of chalk paint will not work. You can only remove a few coats of chalk paint from wood using white spirits and to do this, you’ll need steel wool alongside the white spirits.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits can remove chalk paint from wood but you’ll need to leave the mineral spirits on the chalk paint for a while so it can work. You should also know that mineral spirits will not remove waxed or sealed chalk paint.

Nitromors

Nitromors Master Craftsman’s Paint And Varnish Remover will remove multiple coats of chalk paint from wood easily.

An added advantage to this product is that it poses no threat at all to the wooden surface. Nitromors paint-removing products are safe to use on wood and will remove chalk paint quickly – ensure to follow the Nitromors manufacturer’s instructions,

Heat Gun

You can remove chalk paint from wood using a heat gun but, in all honesty, this isn’t the best method to use on wood. This is because chalk paint has very low heat resistance meaning that the paint will blister off the wood very quickly.

Citristrip

Citristrip is an industrial-grade cleaning remover that will remove several coats of chalk paint from wood easily. Asides from removing the chalk paint, Citristrip will also leave you with a nice citrus smell.

Final Words

In summary, you can remove chalk paint from wood easily by using any of the methods above. Remember, sanding the chalk paint off of the wood is the best option. But, if you are dealing with a large surface or multiple coats of chalk paint, you’ll want to use a paint stripper.

Finally, whenever you use a paint-removing chemical on the wood, you should ensure to neutralize the chemical residue so it doesn’t damage the wood.

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