Using a heat gun for paint removal

A fast, efficient and economical method for removing paint 

Master Appliance heat guns are versatile tools that possess many capabilities. One of their numerous talents is their ability to skillfully and quickly strip paint.  This method of paint removal is a great alternative to using harsh chemicals, and is best for stripping paint from moulded interior woodwork, turnings balusters, porch trim and any solid woodwork with ins and outs. Heat guns excel at paint stripping when multiple layers of paint exist.

Using a heat gun for paint removal is a simple process, and safer than other methods, but before jumping into this project, there are some safety precautions you must be aware of.

Safety Tips: 

  • Wear a respirator mask to protect from fumes of the paint (A respirator with a cartridge specifically designed to filter lead should be worn when working with lead based paint). PAPER MASKS ARE NOT ADEQUATE.
  • DO NOT allow pregnant women or children under six to be present while stripping paint.
  • Work in a well ventilated area. Merely opening a window is not enough. Turn on your exhaust fans. When possible, work outdoors.
  • When using a heat gun for paint removal, wear a separate set of work clothes. Be sure that the clothes cover your arms and legs. Gloves and safety goggles are also recommended.  Make sure to wash these articles of clothing separate from your others.
  • Heat guns reach extremely hot temperatures. Never touch the airflow of the heat gun or the barrel. Stick to the handle.
  • Seal off rooms being stripped from the rest of the home. TAKE PRECAUTION. Lead dust is dangerous.
  • Remove furniture and place drop cloths in the work area to catch any paint strips or peelings.
  • Treat paint scrapings, dust, and chemical residue as toxic waste. Put them in a double plastic bag and dispose of them immediately. When cleaning up, do not dust or vacuum. Instead use a mop or wet cloth where dust and paint is clinging.
  • When using an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty three pronged cord
  • DO NOT use a heat gun to strip paint from the exterior of a home.
  • Always have buckets of water and a fire extinguisher available in case of a fire.
  • LEAD-BASED PAINT WARNING – Know that any paint pre-1977 may contain lead. Master Appliance Heat Guns operate below the vaporization temperature of lead. Regardless, you should be careful of the scrapings and dust from old paint residue. The dust probably contains lead –which can enter the body through the nose or the mouth. It’s a good idea to leave lead based paint removal to professionals.

What you’ll need when using a heat gun for paint removal:

  • Heat Gun
  • Scrapper or Putty Knife – flat scrappers for flat surfaces and triangular ones for carved surfaces
  • Respirator Mask
  • Safety Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Clothing that Covers the Skin


It’s recommended that you first practice on a scrap piece of wood. Perfecting your technique will prevent you from scorching your project.

To get started, set your heat gun to a temperature of 400-600º. Hold the heat gun a few inches away from the surface and slowly move it in back and forth motions. Make sure not to hold the gun in one section for more than five seconds or you may damage the wood. Once you see that the paint is blistering and bubbling (about two minutes), use your free hand to scrape off the softened paint.

As you use a heat gun for paint removal, you will notice that all layers come off with one pass of the heat gun.  In some cases, there will be a layer of varnish. Do not attempt to remove this varnish with the heat gun or you’ll damage the wood.  Varnish will disappear in the chemical cleanup process that follows.

We suggest stripping the narrow grooves and intricate details before working on the flat surfaces. If you do the flat surfaces first, you’ll burn them when you return to complete the details.

Be sure to turn off your heat gun once the majority of paint is removed. Unplug the heat gun and allow it to cool in an upright position. Any bits of remaining paint can be sanded away.

A complicated job becomes much easier when you use a heat gun for paint removal. Share this method with your friends and be sure to come back to our blog often for more heat tool applications.

To purchase a Master Appliance heat tools please visit our vendors page.

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