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I have a coat of non-transparent paint (not sure what type, it was painted about 20 years ago) on my floor. I'd like to see the wood grain. So I am trying to figure out a simple DIY way to remove the paint without damaging the wood. I've looked into this, but I have never done anything like this, so I am confused. Maybe somebody can suggest something?

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Removing painted to expose wood grain requires significant effort. How much effort depends on the type of wood, the type of paint, and how much paint has been applied.

The simplest approach is sanding. If the wood is thick and you have access to a professional sanding machine, this can be done, but this process generates a great deal of dust that needs to be collected, and, if the paint is old, presents a lead hazard. Mask, vacuuming and heavy duty filters are required.

Chemical stripping avoids most of the airborn dust (and lead) and can remove the bulk of the finish. A follow-up sanding is needed. There are several new citrus based strippers that are fairly effective and avoid the more toxic chemicals of the solvent based strippers.

If the wood is open grained (like oak) it is likely that paint will remain in the grain, necessitating a deeper final sanding.

If the floor is very small, hand scraping is possible, but again, masks and vacuuming are essential and again, a final sanding is necessary to get it ready for finish coats.

Sanding of floors is almost always done with larger commercial type units, using ever finer grades of sandpaper. If the area is small and you are patient, a hand-held belt sander, or even an orbital sander may work.

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    I would only sand if the house is completely empty. You are dusting the entire house and you need to make sure all venting is sealed. Also with the citrus based strippers... I have had a couple stain/mark the floor. – DMoore May 15 '14 at 17:29
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I have used Peel Away 1 to remove paint from my doorway and window trim millwork. The only problem is that it takes 90% of time to remove 10% of paint as you will have to scrape off the hardened residues after removing the product.

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Paint thinner, then scrape it off. After that you will have to do at least some minor sanding. If oil based paint then maybe major sanding - but could be done with hand sander if you wanted. I personally wouldn't sand it off from the beginning because first of all you will have a huge mess (and equipment to rent), second you will lose more wood, and third since you are sanding more you have a much greater chance for sanding variance.

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Peel Away 7, not Peel Away 1 as @amphibient mentioned, strips wood very well. If done right, the paint comes off with the paper, minimizing residual scraping. I've stripped solid wood doors with 20+ layers of paint in a single application of Peel Away 7.

  • Apply thick coat (1/4") of Peel Away 7
  • Cover with paper, let sit for 5 days
  • Remove paper, most paint should "peel away" when doing this (see below)
  • Clean up residual paint with plastic scraper, final clean with 3M Green pads and mineral spirits (3M pads are great, they suck up paint like a sponge and will not raise the grain)

**IMPORTANT Apply Peel Away 7 in small sections, and cover with paper immediately, do not let it dry. This is very important, otherwise, the paint will not stick to the paper, leaving behind a total mess which you'll have to scrap off later.

3M Green Pads

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