If your old paint job is making your doors, window frames or furniture look a bit shabby, having the best paint stripper on hand could make all the difference to the outcome of a fresh coat.
Painting over old paint or varnish that’s looking beat up isn’t going to do you any favours and you should always prepare the surface beforehand to enjoy the benefits of an aesthetically pleasing look as well as long lasting durability.
With that being said, how do you know which paint stripper is right for you? We’ve combined our extensive experience, tests and thousands of consumer reviews to come up with the definitive best paint stripper guide which includes the best paint stripper for metal, wood, varnish and more.
What is the best paint stripping product in the UK?
Stripping a surface of old paint can be achieved using a variety of different products and techniques but which one is best?
Whilst some of the best paint strippers in the UK include Paint Panther, Nitromors and Rustins Strypit, in our experience there’s no real one size fits all. We’d always recommend buying the paint stripper that’s most suited to the job at hand.
For example, some paint strippers have been formulated to work better on wooden surfaces while others are better suited to metal surfaces. The same applies to the type of paint you need to remove.
By choosing a product that’s made for your chosen surface, you’ll ultimately have an easier time removing the paint.
Best Paint Stripper Overall: Paint Panther
Paint Panther are our go-to paint stripper and having used it many times ourselves, we’ve voted this as the best paint stripper overall.
This easy to apply and fast acting paint stripper is one of the strongest on the market and has been proven to to be effective on both oil and water based paints as well as varnish. It’s so strong that you could even use a brush to remove the old paint after application.
Multiple coats won’t be a problem either – Paint Panther is able to penetrate and break up to 5 layers of paint in around 7 minutes, saving you time and effort.
In terms of its consistency, the formula is gel-based which makes it ideal for applying to vertical surfaces and ensuring that it doesn’t drip off whilst the reduced evaporation rate ensures efficient paint stripping.
Overall, in terms of the price, ease of use and effectiveness we’d say this is a fantastic product which offers great value for money.
- Gel based, non-drip formula
- Low odour when compared to other leading brands
- Easy to use and apply
- Works on most surfaces including wood and metal
- Used by tradesmen across the UK
Best Varnish Remover: Nitromors Paint Remover
Nitromors has been a reliable paint stripper since 2006 and despite some less than favourable reviews in years gone by, their All Purpose paint and varnish remover has won over DIYers.
Whilst you can simply sand down a surface coated with varnish to remove it, sometimes the built up is too extensive and that’s where Nitromors comes in. Nitromors is suitable for use where paint and varnish layers have been built up over the years and works by causing bubbling and blistering that’s easy to scrape off.
One of our favourite features of Nitromors is the colour indicator which is especially useful when working with a clear varnish as it shows you exactly where your paint stripper has been applied.
It’s strong stuff so if you’re going to be using it, make sure you take every safety precaution you can – you don’t want to breath in the fumes or end up with this stuff on your skin.
- The new formula outperforms previous iterations by a mile
- The colour indicator lets you know where the paint stripper has been applied
- It’s very easy to use
- It has a gel consistency and sticks easily to vertical surfaces making it perfect for application on objects such as door frames
- It’s very pricey
Best Paint Stripper for Wood: Liberon
When looking for the best paint stripper for wood, you’ll want to find something that is tough on paint and varnish but avoids doing harm to the wooden surface. That’s where Liberon come in.
Their Fine Wood Stripper works efficiently to crack and blister paint and varnish which essentially means you’ll only need to lightly scrape off the old paint thus preventing any damage to the wood.
It’s a non-drip gel formula which makes it ideal for application on doors and other interior wood surfaces and also has a solid coverage of between 2 – 5m²/L.
We’ve found that it tends to work best anywhere between 5 – 30 minutes of application so it might require a bit of patience from you. Once you notice the blistering, you can go ahead and lightly scrape the old paint or varnish off.
- Non-drip gel formula
- Kind to wood whilst being tough on paint and varnish
- Suitable for interior woods
- Works well with various pieces of wooden furniture
- Comes in 500ml tin so you’ll need to buy a couple if you plan to remove paint from both sides of a front door
Best Paint Stripper for Metal: Rustins Strypit
Strypit’s Paint and Varnish Stripper is one of the best paint strippers for metal. It’s a non-caustic gel adept at removing tough layers of paint from any surface but works particularly well when applied liberally to metal.
In order to get the best results you’ll want to apply a couple of coats liberally and wait a while until it penetrates the paint. Once the paint is bubbled and blistered, you can start scraping it off. If you have particularly stubborn paint, add some more paint stripper and wait again. Sanding down the surface is always a good idea to ensure you remove every speck of paint.
This particular paint stripper is suitable for removing anything from water and oil based paints to emulsions and lacquers.
- Gel consistency allows for drip-free application on vertical surfaces
- Will work effectively on any paint
- Has good coverage up to 13m²/L
- Needs to be applied liberally for maximum effectiveness
Great Industrial Strength Paint Stripper: Polycell Paint Remover
If you’ve got a surface that has acquired many layers of paint over the years, you’re probably going to need something a bit stronger than what we’ve listed so far. For these sort of jobs, we’d highly recommend Polycell’s Maximum Strength Paint Stripper.
This particular paint stripper can penetrate it’s way through up to 12 coats of paint with just one application. This makes it one of the strongest paint strippers available.
Polycell’s Maximum Strength Paint Stripper is a paste consistency which means, like gel-based strippers, is non-drip. It’s also incredibly easy to use with Polycell giving it a 1/5 on the difficulty scale.
It will work on most types of paint around 20 minutes after application and can be washed off with water. If you have the option to, we’d recommend using this outdoors. If this isn’t possible, open windows and doors to ensure your home is properly ventilated.
- Can penetrate through 12 coats of paint within one application
- Is incredibly easy to use
- It works well with most paint types
- It’s very strong so it’s advisable to use this outdoors if possible
How to Remove Paint Using a Paint Stripper
Whilst removing paint with a paint stripper is an easy process that anyone can follow, it can be lengthy and will require a lot of patience.
Each paint stripper will work in a unique way depending on the formula and the surface it’s meant for so it’s always best to read the manual of your product before starting work.
To give you an idea of the process, we’ve put together a quick example of using a typical paint stripper.
- Make sure to use safety measures such as wearing thick work gloves and goggles to protect your eyes
- Apply a small amount of paint stripper to a patch to ensure it works properly on your chosen surface
- Apply the paint stripper liberally to a target area and wait a few minutes whilst it penetrates the paint
- When the paint starts to bubble and blister you can start scraping off the old coats of paint with a scraper
- Continue the process until all of the paint has been removed from the surface
If working with wooden surfaces, you can lightly sand down the surface to maximise the efficiency of the stripper.
So there you have it – our picks for the best paint strippers in the UK. Remember that you should be choosing your paint based on the job at hand so whilst one paint stripper may be great at working on metal, it might not necessarily have the same impact on wood.
From our experience and the thousands of online reviews on this subject, following the guide above should help you find the best paint stripper for the job.
If in doubt, you can always reach out to us or the retailer who will be happy to advise you further.
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Want to learn more about different paints? Feel free to take a look at our recent “best gloss paint” article!