Paint remover for metal

Finding the best paint remover for metal and how to use it at home

Whether you want to respray or repaint your metal furniture, renew defective coatings from motorcycle and bike parts, recoat a tank, or remove graffiti stains, the first step when you strip paint from metal at home is to use a paint remover for metal. Proper adhesion of any new paint or coating is only achieved if the substrate has been completely stripped and then carefully pretreated. The process of removing paint from metal at home is not recommended for everyone, especially when you have no experience in safely handling chemicals. The best option if you are unsure is to just take the metal parts to a professional – safer and far less chance of something going wrong. If you feel up to the task yourself, you can try to save money by stripping the paint from metal at home with special paint removers for metal.

In this article you learn the safest and best ways to remove paint from metal, and which paint strippers you can buy in Australia. In the interest of safety, we also describe for you the dangers of chemically stripping paint by yourself.


Removing paint from metal parts – Play it safe

Before you head out to buy the best paint stripper to strip paint from metal parts at home, it is vitally important to create a safe working space that protects not only personal health but also the environment. Don’t rush, paint stripping takes time and attention.

Before you get started you should follow these safety preparation steps:

  • Make sure your work space is well ventilated
  • Set up in a space with a solid floor (a garage is a good option)
  • Wear safety clothing including long sleeves and pants, gloves, goggles, and a mask with an air-purifying respirator
  • Have a surface prepared to place the item on during the stripping process, such as a drop cloth or cardboard

If you decide to not strip the paint from metal yourself, there are professionals in practically every part of Australia who strip even powder coating from metal for you at a reasonable price. Stripping paint off larger parts is always best left to professionals.

Paint remover for metal – A guide to the chemicals involved

Paint removers for metal are available at hardware stores for everyone to purchase, but that doesn’t mean those paint removers aren’t dangerous for health and the environment. Therefore, you should try to stay away from paint removers for metal that contain carcinogens. Most paint strippers for metal contain the following toxic polluting solvents:

  • N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidon (NMP),
  • Methyl ethyl ketone,
  • Perchloroethylene,
  • Methylene chloride, (MC/DCM)
  • Toluene

Even without the mentioned ingredients, paint strippers are composed of hazardous ingredients. The best advice is to always read and carefully follow what’s on the safety data sheet and technical data sheet that comes with the paint remover for metal. It is also essential to be aware of the possible health and environmental damage that paint strippers can cause. For example, never allow them to reach groundwater.

In order to work as a potent paint remover, paint remover for metal contains solvents that are able to penetrate a coating so that it loosens and detaches from the surface.


Paint stripper for metal Australia – Product list

If you are confident that you are able to use paint stripper at home, you will find the best paint removers for metal at your local specialist paint shop or even online. Below, you will find a list of paint removers suitable for metal surfaces, including their price and chemical components, to help you making the best choice of paint stripper.

Paint stripper for metaltype/applicationremovesBased onAverage Price
Resene Strip-Off Paint StripperGel/brushPolyurethanes, solvent based paints, water based paint, stains, varnishesMethyl pyrrolidone (without methylene chloride)$26 for 1L
Diggers Paint Stripper PlusGel/brush or rolleroil and water based paints, acrylics, varnishes, epoxiesEthylene Glycol; biodegradable (methylene chloride free)$25 for 1L
Polystrippa Advanced Paint & Varnish StripperGel/brushWater based paint, oil based paintDimethyl Sulfoxide (without MC, NMP)$28 for 500ml

Spot test paint remover before applying on large surface areas

After having bought the paint stripper of your choice, you can apply it on the coated metal part as described in the data sheet. However, to avoid incompatibility with the substrate or paint you should always first:

  • Spot test the metal item with the paint remover.

By testing the paint stripper you will be able to see after several minutes to hours if it works for the type of coating on the metal part. If you see bubbles and loose chips, you have green light for the next step: applying paint stripper on the whole metal part.


The best way to apply paint stripper for metal

Paint remover for metal

The best paint remover for vertical metal surfaces is one with gel-like consistency.

A lot of paint removers for metal are either liquid or have a gel-like and creamy consistency. The advantage of a more viscous paint stripper is that you can apply it on angled surfaces where liquid paint strippers for metal would run off.

Before you start, follow the safety steps previously described → ventilation, solid floor, safety clothes, air-purifying respirator, prepared surface.

Here is the best way to strip paint from metal:

  1. Apply the paint stripper to the painted metal surface with a brush or roller. Work in manageable sections, i.e. 1m x 1m.
  2. Leave the paint stripper for the time recommended in the instructions.
  3. Cover the treated section with plastic film or sheet to keep the paint stripper from drying too quickly.
  4. After some hours, remove the plastic and try to scrape the paint with a bladed paint scraper.
    • If the paint is still stuck fast, allow more time for it to work.
    • If you are able to lift the paint off, move ahead and begin applying paint remover on the next section.
  5. Collect the scraped paint material in a bucket and make sure to dispose as hazardous waste.
  6. Use a scrubbing pad for places that are hard to reach.
  7. Repeat the procedure if needed.

After successfully stripping the paint you can:

  • Wash residue off carefully, wash it down with detergent, and dry the surface.

To prepare it for following steps, ensure it will not corrode, and completely remove all the paint and solvent:

  • Go over the part with an abrasive pad/steel wool or electric sander.

Depending on the type of metal and the intended follow-up coating, abrasive sandblasting is the next step of treatment to ensure ideal adhesion before applying paint or powder coating in the colour and finish of your choice.


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