Tips to Choose the Best Paint Stripper for Metal Surface

A paint stripper is a chemical solution used to remove paint, varnish, or other coatings from a surface. Paint strippers break down the bond between the paint and the surface, making it easier to scrape or wipe the paint away. Paint stripping becomes a necessary maintenance activity implemented in many restoration projects and metalworking assignments to give ensure the better quality and durability of the product.

Importance of Paint Stripping the Metal Surface

Here are some reasons why paint stripping is important for metal surfaces:

  • Better Adhesion: When a new coat of paint is applied to a surface that has not been stripped of its old paint, the new paint may not adhere properly. This can result in a less durable finish that is more likely to chip or peel. By stripping the old paint, the new paint can adhere directly to the metal surface, providing a stronger and more durable finish.

  • Improved Surface Appearance: Over time, paint becomes discoloured, faded, or chipped more often, giving the surface a worn-out look. Stripping the paint can restore the surface to its original condition, making it look cleaner and more polished.

  • Prevention of Corrosion: If the metal surface is not properly stripped before applying a new coat of paint, any existing corrosion or rust may be hidden under the new paint. Over time, this hidden corrosion can continue to spread, causing the metal to weaken and potentially fail. By stripping the paint and properly addressing any corrosion or rust, the surface can be restored to a more structurally sound condition.

  • Easier Inspection: In some industries, such as aviation or automotive manufacturing, regular inspections of metal parts are required for safety and quality assurance. If these parts are covered in layers of paint, it can be difficult to inspect them for signs of damage or wear. By stripping the paint, the metal surface is exposed, making it easier to inspect for any signs of damage.

Factors to Consider While Choosing Paint Stripper for Metal surfaces

There are a few points to keep in mind to ensure that you select the best option for your specific needs that is effective, safe, and appropriate for your specific project and surface : 


  • Type of Metal: Different metals have different properties and may require different types of paint strippers. For example, some metals are more prone to corrosion, and using a harsh paint stripper may damage the surface. Make sure to choose a paint stripper that is appropriate for the specific type of metal you are working with.


  • Type of Paint or Coating: Different types of paint or coatings require different types of paint strippers. For example, solvent-based strippers are generally effective for removing most types of paint, while caustic-based strippers may be more effective on coatings such as epoxy. Make sure to choose a paint stripper that is compatible with the type of paint or coating you are trying to remove.


  • Safety: Some paint strippers can be hazardous to handle and may release harmful fumes or vapours. Consider the safety implications of the product you choose and take appropriate precautions, such as wearing protective equipment and ensuring adequate ventilation.


  • Application method: Different paint strippers have different application methods, such as brush-on, spray-on, or immersion. Consider the size and complexity of the surface you are working on, and choose a paint stripper that is appropriate for the application method you plan to use. Consider how easy the product is to apply and remove, as well as how long it takes to work. Some products may require multiple applications or longer wait times, which can be inconvenient or time-consuming.


  • Time required for Stripping: Some paint strippers work quickly, while others may require longer soaking times or multiple applications. Consider the amount of time you have available for the project and choose a paint stripper that will work within your time frame.

Environmental Impact: Some paint strippers can have negative environmental impacts, such as releasing toxic chemicals into the air or water. Consider the environmental impact of the product you choose and choose a paint stripper that is environmentally friendly if possible.

Common Types of Paint Strippers for Metal Surfaces

  • Solvent-based paint strippers: These types of paint strippers are made with strong chemicals such as methylene chloride, NMP (N-Methylpyrrolidone), and toluene. They work by dissolving the paint so it can be easily scraped or wiped away. It breaks the bond between the paint and the object. The elements present in the paint stripper swell the paint and weaken its adhesion from the surface. 

Solvent-based strippers are effective on a wide range of paints and finishes but can be toxic and emit strong fumes, so they should be used with caution. 

  • Caustic paint strippers: These strippers contain lye or other caustic chemicals that break down the paint’s chemical bond. These are effective on a range of paints but can be harsh and damaging to some materials, such as aluminium or fibreglass. 

The ingredients of caustic paint strippers have high pH levels and the most active element is sodium hydroxide. It reacts to the oily ingredients with the paint and starts breaking it down. You should be careful with these strippers too since they can cause skin burns. Caustic paint removers are good for thick layers of paint and work well on surfaces with detailed moulding due to their consistency. 

  • Mechanical paint strippers: This is an alternative to chemical paint strippers and involves several methods like scraping, abrasive blasting, heat stripping, and wire brushing. These are practically good ways to remove paint if you are dealing with old flaky paint. 

Abrasive blasting involves using high-pressure air or water to blast abrasive particles, such as sand, onto the surface to remove the paint. It is effective for removing paint from large surfaces or hard-to-reach areas, but can be messy and may damage the underlying surface if not used correctly.

In wire brushing, a wire brush or abrasive pad is used to manually remove the paint from the surface. It is effective for small areas or areas with intricate details, but can be time-consuming and may not be effective for removing multiple layers of paint.

Heat stripping involves using a heat gun or other heat source to soften the paint so that it can be easily scraped off. It is effective for removing paint from small areas or areas with intricate details, but can be time-consuming and may produce harmful fumes if not used correctly.

Scraping is basically using a scraper or putty knife to manually remove the paint from the surface. It is effective for small areas or areas with intricate details, but can be time-consuming and may not be effective for removing multiple layers of paint.

  • Eco-friendly paint strippers: These paint strippers are formulated with natural, biodegradable ingredients that break down more quickly and do not release harmful chemicals into the air or water. 

Some eco-friendly paint strippers use soy, citrus, or other plant-based solvents to dissolve the paint. These solvents are typically less toxic and less likely to produce harmful fumes than traditional solvents, such as methylene chloride. Other eco-friendly paint strippers may use enzymes or bacteria to break down the paint or may rely on mechanical means, such as scraping or sanding, to remove the paint. A few examples of eco-friendly paint strippers include Soy Gel Paint Remover and Citristrip. 


It’s important to carefully read the instructions and warnings if you’re considering using chemical paint strippers and to take appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing protective clothing and working in a well-ventilated area. It’s always a good idea to test the stripper on a small area of the metal surface first, to make sure it doesn’t damage anything. Avoid letting the chemical stripper come into contact with your skin or eyes, and dispose of any waste materials properly.

Lubeco’s Paint Strippers help in getting rid of unwanted paint from surfaces but also clean it to maintain excellent functioning and operation of your equipment and machinery. Researching and comparing different paint stripping products based on above mentioned factors can help you choose the best option for metal surfaces. It may also be helpful to consult with a professional or seek advice from an expert at your local hardware or home improvement store.