DIY Door stripping – upcycling ideas to re-use wooden doors

by Kremy

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Door stripping is a process of upcycling old wooden doors and giving them a new life. Whether you upcycle kitchen cabinet doors, or interior doors, the doors of a vintage armoire – the methods and techniques are basically the same. It is quite common to find beautiful woodwork in old houses and high quality wood finishes.

paint stripping wooden door before after upclycling ideas


It would be a shame to send them to trash as they can be saved and their beauty can be restored, well, yes, with a little bit of effort. Usually door stripping is an excellent DIY project and will save you a lot of money on new doors or kitchen cabinet fronts. We shall give some useful tips and will show you some of the methods for paint stripping.

DIY Door stripping – How to strip paint

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There are three basic methods to strip paint – burning the paint off with heat, stripping the paint with a chemical product or scraping it by hand. Let’s see how the different door stripping techniques work!

door stripping before after door paint stripping upcycling wooden doors

Door stripping by hand – you can use a power sander which will speed up the process or do it by hand. This way of stripping paint is good for large smooth surfaces as it quickly removes paint off the wood. However, for woodwork with carvings and intricate patterns hand stripping is going to be a tough job. It is much better to use a chemical paint stripper.

paint stripping wooden doors

Door stripping with a chemical paint stripper – there is a wide variety of paint strippers on the market. Although some paint strippers are labeled as “environmentally friendly” it is advisable to check if they do not work with only specific finishes. There are two large groups of chemical strippers – solvent based (flammable) and caustic based (non-flammable). A third group of citrus-based versions is getting as popular as the caustic ones as this is the eco-friendly group.

 furniture paint stripping

However, you should not neglect the safety precautions as the chemical strippers still can cause skin burns. When you use a chemical paint stripper, you have to apply it on the wooden surface, let it sit and do its work and then scrape it off. Another very important thing that you need to remember is that chemical strippers work relatively fast. If you leave it to dry out, removing it from the wooden surface can become a difficult task.

heating method upcycling furniture

Dorr stripping using heat to remove paint – this method requires a blowtorch or a heat gun. Although this is considered as an efficient method it also has the big disadvantage of being dangerous for a hazard of accidental fire and harmful fumes and vapors. Experts advise to avoid this method of door stripping for any paint older than 30 years, as they usually contain lead.

DIY door stripping – safety precautions

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It is absolutely necessary that you wear chemical resistant gloves and eye protection when strip off paint regardless of the method you use. The door stripping methods require a mask over the mouth and nose to avoid inhaling dust. Work in a well ventilated area or outdoors. Check the old paint for the presence of lead. It is not advisable to use sanding if there is any trace of lead presence. Use paint stripper instead.


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