How to Remove Primer From Wood

By Robert Kingsley

Primer is a useful tool for painters. It bonds very well with your work surface, helps seal and protect your project and evens out colors to keep your topcoat nice. Unfortunately, the bonding qualities that make it such a useful product also make it very difficult to remove. There are two popular methods for handling this job; one involves a lot of work and the other involves harsh chemicals. You get to choose the method you like best.

List of Items Needed

  • Sandpaper, 100-grit
  • Sanding block
  • Oscillating sanding tool
  • Rotary tool with sanding accessory
  • Paint stripper
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Paint scraper
  • Stiff-bristled brush


  1. Sand the flat surfaces of your primed wood using an oscillating tool equipped with a hook and loop pad accessory and 120-grit sandpaper. Hand-sanding with a block is possible, bit it will take longer. Sand until bare wood is exposed.

  2. Sand recessed or detailed areas of your work piece using a rotary tool with a sanding accessory. A small sanding drum can get into areas that a flat sander can't reach.

  3. Hand-sand detailed areas of your work piece using a loose sheet of sandpaper.

    Chemical Stripper

  1. Apply a thin layer of chemical paint stripper, such as methylene chloride, to your work piece using a foam paintbrush.

  2. Leave the chemicals alone for the recommended amount of time listed on the product's label. You should see the primer begin to peel up as minutes tick by.

  3. Scrape the paint off of the wood using a flat paint scraper after the allotted time has passed. You can use a dry, stiff-bristled brush to score paint from detailed, recessed or carved areas.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when applying chemical strippers to avoid skin contact.
  • Only apply chemical strippers in well-ventilated areas and wear a respirator if possible.
  • Wear protective eye gear when using power tools, chemicals and sanding.

© Demand Media 2011