Removing Old Finishes


Properly removing old finishes is a key part of refinishing old projects. Removing paints and clear finishes can be a tedious, dirty job. Thankfully, Old Masters® top-grade removers quickly strip away previous finishes with ease. (Do not use on linoleum, rubber, asphalt or other synthetics.)

Suggested Supplies

  • Old Masters Remover
  • Bristle Brush
  • Round Cornered Scraper, Steel Wool or Burlap Cloth
  • Wiping Cloths
  • Dropcloth
  • Rubber Gloves and Safety Equipment as recommended by remover manufacturer

Before You Begin

  • Read All Cautions Carefully
  • Use Caution When Opening due to Pressure
  • Hold Rag Over Cap Until Pressure is Relieved
  • Protect Hands with Plastic Gloves
  • Use a Throw-away Bristle Brush for Application
  • For Best Results, Use Outdoors Between 60-85°F
  • Apply Without Strong Breezes and Hot Sun

Removing Old Finishes

Use the following section for typical removal instructions.

  1. Apply a liberal coat of remover to project surface with a bristle brush, brushing in one direction only. Do not brush out as you would paint – as this will destroy evaporation retardant.
  2. Allow the remover to soften the finish, approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the number of layers of the old finish. The old finish is ready for removal when it blisters, wrinkles or can be lifted off easily with a flat scraper.
  3. To remove finish, you can use a round-cornered scraper, steel wool and/or burlap cloth to remove old finish. Test scrape in a small area to be sure finish is ready for removal. If old finish removes easily, continue scraping project gently in the direction of the wood grain. Be careful to avoid gouging the surface.
  4. If finish is particularly stubborn, remove loose residue by scraping, then repeat application. For deep carving and recesses use a toothbrush, fine wire brush or a pointed stick to remove finish.
  5. To complete cleaning on most projects, use fine steel wool dipped in TM-1 or mineral spirits and wipe with the grain.
  6. Wipe surface with clean cloth, then lightly dry.
  7. Once surface is completely dry, sand lightly in the direction of the woodgrain before applying the new finish.


WARNING! If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. Contact the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to