Effective homemade paint stripper formula? 300s/f with 5 coats of paint...

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Forum topic by Canofworms posted 06-03-2014 11:47 PM 3853 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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103 posts in 1499 days

06-03-2014 11:47 PM

I have a lemonade porch I want to get down to bare wood. Its about 300 s/f with 5 coats of paint.
Even the heaviest grit sandpaper on a belt sander gums up in about 5 seconds.
KLEAN EZ strip remover strip gets it down 90% with two applications, but that’s gonna cost $$$.
I could use heat, but I really don’t like the idea of the burnt old chemicals and its a lot of scraping that will kill my hands and wrists.
I can ventilate.
Does anyone have a homemade recipe?

Citristrip is cheap on Amazon. Anyone try this?

8 replies so far

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2444 days

#1 posted 06-03-2014 11:54 PM

You could a use heat gun for the bulk of it and then and paint and varnish remover to remove the rest to bare wood.I have also heard some have had success using an electric hand planer which doesn’t get the paint hot and gummy like a belt sander.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 1846 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 03:16 AM

I’ve tried Citristrip. I wasn’t impressed with it. To answer your question, in the old days, they used to use lye to remove paint. If you try this, be extremely careful. Lye is caustic and can burn your skin and eyes severely, potentially causing permanent blindness. As a starting point, use a quarter of a pound of lye to every quart of hot water. You can thicken the solution with cornstarch, if desired. After applying the lye solution, wait a few minutes for it to soften the paint, then wash it off with a garden hose or a pressure washer. Next, use a solution of vinegar and water to neutralize the lye that remains in the wood and let the surface dry thoroughly. If the lye solution has darkened the wood, the original colour can be brought back using a solution of oxalic acid.

Having said all of that, though, I’d think seriously about whether or not you want to take this approach. If you try it, you must protect your skin and eyes with gloves, a rain coat, goggles and/or a face shield. Also, the lye will likely kill any vegetation that it comes in contact with, so keep it off of your grass and shrubs.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4541 posts in 2406 days

#3 posted 06-04-2014 03:30 AM

Stripper followed by pressure washer. I did the concrete blocks on the side of my house down to the bare block and then started over. Time consuming but effective. Just a suggestion.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Canofworms's profile


103 posts in 1499 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 03:35 AM

I think I will skip the lye I want to keep my skin and don’t feel like having to neutralize a highly caustic solution. But thank you. Pressure washer no good either.

I bought a quart of citristrip for $11 delivered and it says it will stay wet and active overnight. So I will see what it does.
I will try the heat gun on a section and then the stripper.
The worst that happens is it doesn’t work.
The first two layers come up easy.
Thank you

View TheFridge's profile


9455 posts in 1483 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 03:40 AM

I took off 4-5 coats of paint on a dresser with gel paint stripper from Home Depot. Then used coarse 1/0 steel wool and mineral spirits to get the last bit.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2314 days

#6 posted 06-04-2014 02:06 PM

The Citristrip, Safest Stripper and other brands without the methyl chloride do work fine, but you have to ignore the instructions which claim 30-60 minute working time. The way to use them is to apply them heavily then cover the work in plastic for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best for Safest Stripper and that one is expensive because it needs to be put on a 1/4” thick or heavier.

I’d suggest buying two or three types of stripper but only one container of each. Apply a thick coat to horizontal surfaces and cover everything in that cheap polyethylene drop cloth. Give it enough time to work through all 5 coatings.

Careful testing will let you know which combination is working the best for your application. Then you can buy what is needed to finish the job.

-- See my work at and

View Tim's profile


3805 posts in 1959 days

#7 posted 06-04-2014 05:19 PM

I’ve had decent luck with Citristrip, and found the same thing as JAAune. Depends on how many layers of paint you have and how thick they are. I’m assuming their 30-60 minute time is for a thin spay paint dusting. Citristrip only takes off one layer at a time usually, but I think other strippers work that way too.

View Targa's profile


118 posts in 1737 days

#8 posted 06-04-2014 06:06 PM

I’ve used a lot of strippers over the years and believe Franmar Chemical Inc’s “Soy Gel” is the best and safest stripper available.

It is fairly expensive, but if you follows the instructions and give it time to work, it works extremely well. However, to remove every last bit of paint, you may need to use a low pressure pressure washer.

-- Dom

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