The best paint strippers

Whether you prefer a high-powered heat gun or the paste and scraper route, we’ve brought together the best methods for stripping paint

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Painting your house from top to bottom? Stripping paint can be as simple as a manual scraper, a bottle of white spirit and a can-do attitude, but if you have a lot of square footage to see to, or would rather avoid getting RSI, why not treat yourself to one of our best paint strippers? These paint stripping tools are great for those worried about inhaling fumes, as they use heat to lift layers of old paint from surfaces: think hairdryer, but with more horsepower. 

After something more traditional? Not to worry, we’ve picked a selection of the best chemical paint strippers too, including options that work on stubborn varnish as well as paint. 

Whatever kind of stripper you’re in the market for, be sure to follow some basic safety guidelines so it all goes smoothly: wear long sleeves and trousers, gloves, and eye protection to avoid burns, and use in a well-ventilated area, ideally with a respirator mask. 

Think you might have lead paint in your home? Learn how to handle it safely with this Defra guide

The best paint stripper

1. DeWalt 240V Twin Settings Electric Paint Stripper

Our best paint-stripping tool might be lightweight, but it sure packs a punch

Specifications
Best for: Build
Power: 1800W
Heat range: 50 to 600ºC
Reasons to buy
+ Light and comfortable to use + Suitable for contractor use 

DeWalt are generally considered to be the crown princes of power tools, so it stands to reason that they’d know how to make a good heat gun. But while it can’t be beaten for performance (users say it can melt pretty much anything), it also takes the top spot for its design. It’s light and compact, to avoid putting pressure on wrists over long stretches, but still built to last through several full-on jobs, and reviewers were blown away by how easily it saw off tough jobs. Easy, effective, and comfortable to use, it’s our all-round winner. 

Tacklife Electric Paint Stripper Gun

2. Tacklife Electric Paint Stripper Gun

Get in every nook and cranny with this multi-mode heat gun

Specifications
Best for: Range of jobs
Power: 2000W
Heat range: 50 to 600ºC
Reasons to buy
+ Good range of attachments and modes + Consistent powerful airflow 

This paint stripper gun by Tacklife is one of the most versatile out there, offering multiple means of getting the job done. It’s great at the basics of course, said to heat up to full temperature in just one minute and have good airflow throughout, but it also offers three heat settings to cope with the toughest paints and most delicate surfaces, as well as a dedicated cooling mode. It comes complete with four nozzle attachments including an extension tube, making it suited to most tasks from paint stripping to softening caulk. 

Rustins 500ml Strypit Paint and Varnish Stripper

3. Rustins 500ml Strypit Paint and Varnish Stripper

See to all surfaces, even the sheer ones, with this versatile paint stripper

Specifications
Best for: Coverage
Capacity: 500ml
Use on: Wood, metal, glass, stone, plaster
Reasons to buy
+ Drip-free gel + Acts quickly 

This potent paint stripper works on paints and varnishes alike, and is effective on wood, metal, stone and even glass surfaces, making it a bit of an all-round wonder. The drip-free gel consistency means it clings to whatever surface you apply it to, including verticals, giving you a fighting chance of keeping it away from any unwisely uncovered carpet. Reviewers loved the quick-acting formula, saying that you can almost watch it dry, and noting that both paint and primer blistered off ready for wiping away in mere minutes. By all accounts, an excellent value buy. 

Home Strip Paint Stripper 500ml

4. Home Strip Paint Stripper 500ml

Unassuming but effective, this paint stripper has the performance to back up its well-kept-secret status

Specifications
Best for: Effective
Capacity: 500ml
Use on: Wood, metal, stone, brick, plaster
Reasons to buy
+ Effective on old and lead-based paint + Low odour 

While some reviewers admitted to having reservations when they first saw this paint stripper on the shelves, they invariably wound up impressed by this wonder formula in its unassuming packaging. They found it beat some more well-known competitors hands-down when it came to effectively stripping layers of hardened paint away, but most importantly, reported that it was more user-friendly. The lack of a chemical smell was a huge bonus for many, especially those with small children troubled by fumes. 

Polycell 500ml Maximum Strength Paint Stripper

5. Polycell 500ml Maximum Strength Paint Stripper

Slather on, kick back, wipe off: this gel paint stripper works wonders without dripping

Specifications
Best for: Fast-acting
Capacity: 1ltr
Use on: Wood, metal
Reasons to buy
+ Quick and effective stripping + Non-drip formula 

If maximum strength paint stripping is what you’re after, consider this Polycell stripper for your trickiest projects. Users say it’s no misnomer, working quickly and effectively to lift layers of paint off wood, metal and more, and scraping away easily after it’s worked its magic. They also loved the thick, non-drip gel formula, which makes for less mess and less risk of damage to flooring and any non-target areas. The only issue is that it’s understandably very potent, so be prepared for some quite strong chemical smell while it’s working, and be sure to ventilate the room you're working in. 

Biostrip 20 Paint Stripper 500ml

6. Biostrip 20 Paint Stripper 500ml

Better for you and the planet, but no less effective with it

Specifications
Best for: Eco-friendly
Capacity: 500ml
Use on: Wood, brick, concrete, metal, uPVC, glass
Reasons to buy
+ Eco-friendly non-toxic formula + Economical, great coverage 

Like our previous product, Biostrip’s paint stripper has a handy no-mess, non-drip formula to keep everything other than your target area safe from potentially damaging droplets. Unlike it, however, it’s also low-odour, water-based and non-toxic, making it one of our safest paint strippers for use in houses with kids, pets or simply anyone who’s hoping to do an eco-friendly job or is a bit nervous of using chemicals. That thick formula also means less product wasted, and this highly economical tub is intended to clear 2-3 square metres of surfaces. 

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