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How to Strip a Door

Why Strip a Door?

Stripping a door means removing old paint or finish to restore its natural beauty. This is important for several reasons:

  • It helps to reveal the original wood grain.
  • It prepares the door for a new finish or paint.
  • It can remove years of wear and tear.

Tools and Materials Needed

Basic Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Paint scraper
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Paintbrush
  • Protective gloves and goggles


  • Paint stripper
  • White spirit
  • Clean rags
  • Drop cloth or old newspaper

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Remove the Door

First, remove the door from its hinges using a screwdriver. This makes the stripping process easier and more effective.

  • Lay the door flat on a drop cloth or old newspaper.
  • Remove any hardware like handles and locks.

2. Apply the Paint Stripper

Next, apply the paint stripper. Make sure you wear protective gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes.

  • Use a paintbrush to apply a thick layer of paint stripper.
  • Let it sit for the time recommended on the product label, usually 15-30 minutes.

3. Scrape Off the Old Paint

Once the paint stripper has done its job, use a paint scraper to remove the old paint.

  • Work in sections, scraping gently to avoid damaging the wood.
  • Wipe the scraper clean on a rag as you go.

4. Sand the Door

After scraping, sand the door to remove any remaining paint and smooth the surface.

  • Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually move to finer grits.
  • Always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

5. Clean the Door

Finally, clean the door to remove any dust or residue.

  • Use white spirit on a clean rag to wipe down the door.
  • Allow the door to dry completely before applying a new finish or paint.

Tips for a Successful Stripping

Safety First

Always work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear. Paint strippers can be harmful if inhaled or if they come into contact with your skin.

Test a Small Area First

Before applying the paint stripper to the entire door, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure it works as expected.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using the Wrong Tools

Using tools that are too sharp can gouge and damage the wood. Always use tools specifically designed for paint stripping.

Skipping the Sanding Step

Sanding is crucial for achieving a smooth, clean surface. Skipping this step can result in an uneven finish.

Maintenance After Stripping

Regular Cleaning

After stripping and refinishing your door, regular cleaning will help maintain its appearance. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the door and avoid harsh chemicals.

Periodic Refinishing

Depending on the door's exposure to elements, you might need to refinish it every few years. This will keep it looking fresh and protect the wood.


Stripping a door can bring back its natural beauty and prepare it for a new finish. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can achieve great results. Always remember to work safely and follow the product instructions for the best outcome.

Step Action Tools Needed
1 Remove the Door Screwdriver, Drop cloth
2 Apply Paint Stripper Paintbrush, Paint stripper, Protective gloves and goggles
3 Scrape Off Paint Paint scraper, Rags
4 Sand the Door Sandpaper
5 Clean the Door White spirit, Clean rag