Tools, tips, and tricks for removing paint from wood by scraping. Learn how to get that paint off for a nice smooth finish on salvaged beadboard!
I will yammer until I’m blue in the face about how much I love my beadboard kitchen…once it’s done. We have done a ton of work but still have SO much to do.
After we finished installing all the beadboard walls, we had to scrape them. Yes. All of them. Every single one.
Fortunately we learned a few things a long the way. So today I want to tell you about the tools we fell in love with, how we actually did the scraping, and some tips to not DIE while scraping an entire room.
(Bonus tip: don’t try to scrape an entire kitchen and pantry in one and a half days. It can be done. But you will NOT be happy about it.)
Ways of Removing Paint from Wood
There are a lot of different techniques for removing paint from wood. You can use chemical strippers, heat, sanding, scraping, dipping, and I’m sure a whole host of other methods.
Which technique you use entirely depends on what your goal is. If you want to get something back to bare wood, chemical strippers and sand papers are best. If you want to just remove built up paint, maybe heat is best.
For our kitchen project, we used salvaged tongue and groove beadboard for all of the walls. Because it was salvage, it had been painted over so many times that a lot of the detail had been lost. Since we just wanted to remove the flaking paint, we chose to scrape the walls.
Why would you scrape paint?
As I mentioned, there are many ways to remove paint. The biggest issue we had with our beadboard walls was that they were flaking. And flaking BAD.
First, we had the kitchen boards. These had LAYERS upon layers of paint on them, probably old oil based paint. When wood expands and contracts underneath oil based paint, the pant chips will pop off.
So obviously we had to scrape off those chunks. Next we had some of the boards salvaged from the study. These boards had a few less layers on them but the top layer was just barely hanging on there.
Since we didn’t want chips flaking off, we chose to scrape to remove the paint from the wood.
Finally, we didn’t sand the boards to remove paint because we figured that would kick up a lot of dust. Scraping the boards was still dusty but most of the paint came off in flakes, so they were less likely to spread.
What tools do you need for removing paint from wood?
We bought three different scrapers for this job but really only ended up using two of them. However they’re all great for removing paint from wood, so let’s talk about all of them.
First, we used this pull scraper. Let me tell you this was my BEST FRIEND (even if I can hardly feel my forearms as I type this). The blade is super sharp and cut through just about anything on the walls.
The pull handle is really helpful because you can use your whole body instead of just your arms. 10/10. Highly recommend.
Second we used a contour scraper. This little beast was WICKED and awesome. The point got right in the grooves of the beadboard and got all that nasty junk out.
Brandon mostly used this one, but I looked at it. It was nice.
Third, we bought this flat scraper but didn’t really use it much. The blade was too wide for our small beadboard. I would imagine this would be great if you have a bunch of flat surfaces to get paint off. It is still a good tool, but just not the right one for this job.
What protection do you need to wear?
Alright. I’ll say it. This beadboard has lead paint.
I KNOW. I KNOW. Literally every house from this time period has lead paint. The beadboard was too perfect to let go. So. How did we protector ourselves?
First: respirators. We both use these respirators for all our demo and messy home renovation jobs. We wore them the entire time we scraped.
Second: glasses/goggles. The paint chips fly everywhere and you don’t want them getting in your eyes. Definitely make sure to protect yourself!
Third: Long clothes. We wore jeans and long shirts while we were scraping to keep the paint off us. You can wear gloves too for further protection.
After you’re done for the day: DROP YOUR CLOTHES. The most important part of keeping clean is to drop your clothing before you come in the house. Then go and immediately take a shower.
Finally throw all your clothing in the washing machine and run it by itself. After washing, run your washer empty on a cleaning cycle. This should get all the paint residue out of your machine.
Fortunately we knocked out the whole room in a day and a half so we only had to do this song and dance twice. But better safe than sorry.
How do you scrape paint?
This seems self explanatory but trust me, it takes a minute to get the hang of it.
I spent most of my time with the pull scraper, and I think that works best for a lot of applications. First hold the handle in one hand and the knob in your other hand. Then set the blade of the scraper flat on the board you want to scrape.
Using moderate pressure, pull the scraper toward you gently. Be careful not to pull too hard because the scraper can damage the wood.
For the contour scraper, you want to do the same thing. First set the point in the groove and apply moderate pressure. Then pull the scraper toward you with a steady, even stroke.
I can HEAR the question you want to ask. “Paige? What is moderate pressure?’
Well these scrapers are sharp. And if you go whole hog on your wall with one of them, it WILL scrape of everything down to the wood.
But, you will be exhausted. We found that anything that won’t come off with moderate pressure probably won’t come off when we seal the walls with primer.
So we chose to lower our standards a bit and save ourselves some effort.
Tips and Tricks for Removing Paint from Wood
Tip 1: Work with your hands between your shoulders and elbows.
Scraping is a full upper body work out and you will get tired FAST. To help minimize the fatigue, we found out that keeping your working area between your shoulders and elbows is much easier.
Sit down on chairs, stand on stools, kneel with knee-pads, whatever you have to do. Maintaining that golden work zone will save you a lot of pain and frustration.
Tip 2: Take breaks and hydrate.
This should be self explanatory but PAIGE DID NOT LISTEN. Scraping walls is an endurance test. Make sure you sit down regularly and drink plenty of water. Also snacks. Lots of snacks.
Tip 3: One board at a time.
When you look at the whole room, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead, concentrate on scraping one specific section of one board at a time. Then when that is finished, scrape the next one.
Tip 4: Partner up.
More hands distribute the work load. If you have a willing friend or spouse to help you, the job will go much faster.
(Note: If you’re scraping lead paint, definitely don’t want kids involved.)
Tip 5: Stop at “good enough.”
These paint scrapers could literally scrape to the center of the Earth if you kept going. At some point, you will have to decide what is good enough for paint removal and stop there.
As long as the loose chips are off and you’ve scraped with moderate pressure, it should be good.
Dare I even say it but…I believe we’re ready to move on to actual priming the boards…almost. But I’m still so glad we spent the time removing paint from wood so we have as smooth of a starting point as we can get.
Have you ever scraped anything?
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