Best Varnish Removers for Wood: Things to Consider

Published on: April 3, 2022
Written by Eric Devin / Fact-checked by David Rowan

Every person has times when they want their already painted wooden surfaces to shine or restore a vehicle, furniture or removing old paint from wood and metal or an old cement porch then you will need a powerful varnish remover that can easily strip off color from the surface of the wood with reliable consistency and get to the bare surface beneath.

varnish removers for wood

Finding the right varnish remover for wood is a daunting prospect due to the sheer number of available options. With that in mind, here we have tried to list the perfect varnish remover available in the market, and that meets your needs and comfort by working correctly on your application.

Things to Consider for Right Varnish Remover

Before you invest in your best varnish remover for wood on your project, follow this guide, which will ensure that you’re using the right varnish remover for your application.

Know Your Working Surface

Before you start with your paint stripping, consider the surface of the material you are about to remove. Biochemical varnish removers are suitable for stripping paint on floors and metal. In the cases of woodwork projects, masonry, and metalwork, sanding does the work. Heat-generating removers are ideal for multiple surfaces. Using chemical paint strippers is excellent for bumpy and uneven surfaces.

Read more: Paint Brush for Trim and Baseboards

Harsh Chemicals and Fumes

Suppose you have tried removing paint in the past. In that case, most varnish removers contain harsh chemicals like methylene chloride, which is dangerous for health and quickly fills the indoor with hazardous sharp smell vapors by leaving it full of odors for days.

But today, most of these varnish removers are user-friendly and environmentally-friendly without harsh chemicals and fragrances. Even though most strippers are flammable, considering choosing biodegradable and environmentally-friendly options is advised.

Safety Factors

Safety is your top priority while looking to buy a paint remover. As it is a chemical compound with high detergent capacity, causing dizziness, skin irritation, and shortage of breath. So, when using any paint stripping solution, whether it’s sanding, solvents, or biochemical, you should first equip yourself with protective equipment like glasses, masks, gloves, etc.


How well the stripper removes paint and varnish from different surfaces is the essential concern for DIY professionals or artisans. Some of these products require 2-5 minutes for removing paint and finish in as little while others can stay active for many hours.

So, if you have the patience and want your work done quickly and require a few layers of finish to chew through, go for the quick-acting formula instead. On the other hand, if you want many layers to get to the base surface, opt for a product that can be left on for extended periods by eating through layer after layer of paint and varnish.

Read more: Paint Brushes for Smooth Finish

Editor’s Note

Removing old paint and varnish is a time-consuming task, but if you can opt for a quality varnish remover, it will keep you safe; simultaneously, this reliable product will do the work you would expect as with finishing touches.

Our review on the varnish remover for wood is chosen based on safety factors, surfaces and materials, and the paint thickness. It is also suitable for a different range of paint types and textures by giving you professional solutions by removing paint in less time, with less work.

View Top 6 Varnish Removers for Wood Reviews, Below

1. Dumond Chemicals (1005N) Peel Away Heavy-Duty Paint Remover

  • 100% biodegradable;
  • Nice scent;
  • Odor-free formula;
  • Capable of removing 32 layers of coatings at a time;
  • Powerful, industrial-strength remover;
  • Environment and eco-friendly.

Dumond chemicals (1005n) peel away heavy-duty paint remover is eco-friendly, versatile, affordable, and relatively safe paint and varnish remover that many experts and DIY enthusiasts use for most paint-stripping needs. This paint stripper contains no methylene chloride and isn’t caustic, so it will be safe to use indoors without discomfort.  

This paint & varnish remover is a non-toxic and biodegradable gel that will help remove multiple layers of paints from interior/exterior surfaces such as wood, brick, metal, concrete, stone, plaster and most fiberglass and plastics. This multi-purpose stripper is an excellent varnish remover for marine paints without damaging the gel coat and is also useful for the metallic exterior.

It is very fast-acting and stays wet with no assistance by allowing you to strip any multiple layers in one go. Another great thing about Dumond chemicals (1005n) is that it comes as a paste formulation easily applicable with a brush, roller, or conventional airless sprayer.  


  • Environment-friendly;
  • Great smells;
  • Safe for both indoors and outdoors use;
  • Penetrates multiple types of coatings on various surfaces with peel away paper;
  • Easily applicable on intricate, carved, or molded surfaces;
  • Fast-acting and long active times;
  • Removes latex and oil-based paint, varnish, lacquer, stains, and more.


  • Expensive.

2. Dumond Chemicals (Inc. 3332) Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

  • 100-percent biodegradable and PH neutral;
  • Non-flammable;
  • Odor-free water-based advanced paint remover.

There are a lot of eco-friendly varnish remover products available in the market. Still, Dumond chemicals (Inc.3332) are among the best eco-friendly varnish and paint removers for paints and surfaces.   

This smart strip advanced paint remover is water-based, 100% biodegradable, and PH neutral, and has zero VOCs. That means this product is eco-friendly, non-toxic, non-caustic, safe to the touch, and odor-free. Unlike many other paint strippers, its waste won’t damage the environment and wash away with water for easy cleanup.

This water-based stripper is strong enough to effectively remove any coating up to 15 virtually like oil-based, water-based, acrylics, varnishes, urethanes even old lead paints from the interior or exterior surface of wood, brick, concrete, plaster, stone, glass, plastic, metal, fiberglass, and more. Using this paint stripper is incredibly easily applicable by brush, roller, or conventional airless spray.


  • User-friendly and eco-friendly;
  • Suitable for indoor use;
  • Non-carcinogenic, non-toxic and non-caustic;
  • Easy to use and effective functioning;
  • No need to neutralize the striped surface;
  • Super clean and no messy cleanup;
  • Works considerably, removing several coats of the paint.


  • Needs to set paint layers for 3 to 24 hours.

3. Sunnyside (63432) Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover Gel

  • No methylene chloride;
  • Fast-acting remover;
  • The gel formula is safer and comfortable to work with.

Stripping paint requires patience. With this Sunnyside advanced paint & varnish remover gel, you can easily break down the paint’s chemical bonds to remove multiple layers of finish in one application.

This fast-acting and powerful paint remover requires only just 2 minutes to remove not only strip paint from wood but also can remove latex and oil-based paint, lacquer, shellac, varnish, epoxy, and polyurethane finishes in less time than conventional paint removers.

There is no methylene chloride and no hidden toxic chemicals in this paint stripper. It is safe to use on different surface types, including wood, masonry, metal, marine, and automotive finishes. The semi-paste formula is easy to apply and secure to use on vertical and horizontal surfaces by quickly attacking the finish and lightening wood stains without harming wood or corroded metal or making it runny or messy.


  • Works fast in 2-10 minutes on most coatings;
  • Works excellent on most substrates;
  • In one application remove multiple layers of finish;
  • Will not damage wood, or corrode metal or masonry;
  • Works well on vertical and horizontal surfaces.


  • Some consumers complained it worked sometimes;
  • It does not work to remove automotive paint.

4. Sunnyside (63532) 2-Minute Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover

  • Non-caustic;
  • Methylene chloride free;
  • 2-minute fast-acting liquid remover;
  • No harsh fumes or toxic chemicals.

Sunnyside (63532) 2-minute advanced paint & varnish remover is a budget-friendly and relatively eco-friendly paint stripper for removing paint and varnish coatings safely from any surface, including wood, metal, masonry, marine and automotive finishes and more for removing latex and oil-based paint, lacquer, shellac, varnish, epoxy and polyurethane finishes without causing damage. 

This 2-minute fast acting advanced liquid remover is designed to remove multiple layers of finish in one application. Unlike many varnish strippers, the formula is free from the worst toxic chemicals such as methylene chloride or NMP. 


  • User-friendly;
  • Safe for indoor use at any time of year;
  • Remove multiple layers of finish in one application;
  • Safe for most substrates;
  • Remove most types of paint and coatings from a variety of surfaces.


  • Not remove automotive or factory finish paints.

5. Dumond Chemicals (Inc. 3301) Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

  • 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable; 
  • Water-based paint stripper;
  • No harsh odors or fumes;
  • Architectural, industrial, and marine solutions.

Another revolutionary, multi-surface varnish and paint remover for indoor and outdoor use is Dumond chemicals (Inc. 3332). This smart strip advanced paint remover is a 100% biodegradable, odor-free, and water-based paint stripper that uses benzyl alcohol for effectively removing multiple layers of architectural and industrial paint coating from the interior and exterior sides to get the job done. 

It can be widely used to remove paint from different surfaces like wood, metals, plastics, bricks, stones, rigid solids, concrete, plasters, and fiberglass. This paint stripper doesn’t contain methylene chloride or toxic ingredients or caustic chemicals, so it is safe for the user and environment. It can also use them on a variety of surfaces.

You could easily apply this paste using rollers, brush, knife, airless paint sprayers, and any other method on pretty much surfaces, including vertical. Wait for the paint to lift, and then use a plastic sheet or scraper to remove scrape from the surface effortlessly.


  • Easy to apply;
  • Safe for the user, substrate and environment;
  • Removes multiple layers;
  • Works excellent on intricate, carved, or molded surfaces;
  • Reasonably safe for both interior and exterior use;
  • Removes lead-based paint and marine paints without damaging the gel coat.


  • Expensive;
  • It Left messes to clean up.

6. Sunnyside (65664) Hi-Speed Ready-Strip Citrus Paint & Varnish Remover

  • Doesn’t contain methylene chloride or NMP;
  • Multi-purpose product;
  • Have zero toxins;
  • ‘No-drip’ formula;
  • Start working in 30 minutes;
  • No harsh fumes and odors.

Sunnyside (658g1a) is not only one of the advanced, impressive, and reliable best varnish removers for wood from Sunnyside Corporation. This ready strip paint & varnish remover is a multi-use paint stripper that can be used for any exterior or interior surfaces and does a great job of removing concrete deck stains. Thanks to the patented color change technology that signals you about the paint removing status without damaging the surface beneath.

It doesn’t contain any methylene chloride or NMP, making it significantly safer than many standard products compared to some of its peers. Because of this, it comes with a low odor as well as low prices.

Although it takes twenty-four minutes to get to work, a single coat can remove up to 3 layers of not only oil or water-based coating but also different coatings such as paints, lacquers and urethanes, stains, and varnishes. Moreover, it’s also a low VOC compound and allows you to clean up with water to rinse off the paint and dirt from any surface.


  • User-friendly and eco-friendly;
  • Capable of removing three layers of coatings at a time;
  • Works quickly and effectively;
  • Convenient and easy to use;
  • Works on horizontal and vertical surfaces
  • No harmful ingredients;
  • Easy to use paint remover for wood;
  • Suitable and safe to use on interior and exterior substrates;
  • Ideal for oil or water-based coating.


  • Quickly dry out if left too long.
  • Not suitable to use on sheetrock, plastic, rubber, or linoleum.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Easiest Method for Removing Varnish From Wood?

You should simply begin with 150-coarseness sandpaper and sand the whole surface. Whenever you’ve done that, continue on to 220-coarseness sandpaper and rehash. This should eliminate the stain. An orbital sander will make this work a lot more straightforward and speedier assuming you’re eliminating stain from a level surface.

Would You Be Able to Utilize Vinegar to Remove Varnish From Wood?

Pour the 4 cups of high temp water that you heated to the point of boiling into a can. Add ¾ cup of baking pop, ½ cup of smelling salts, and 1 tbsp. of white vinegar. Mix the substance with a wooden spoon.

Is It Better to Sand or Strip Furniture?

Stripping is fast and often safe. Snatching a finish is faster than sanding to eliminate it. Yet, more significantly, sand the slices through the paint and patina, and it does as such unevenly.

Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Wood?

Yes, vinegar can remove paint from wood and other hard surfaces if the paint has not dried, cured, or stuck-on.

Where Can Varnish Remover be Used?

Today most varnish removers are multi-surface capable so that you can use wood, metal, plastic, glass or fiberglass, and masonry. But before using it on appliances, read the instruction manual carefully. Some of these strippers are safe for plastic use, where some are painted on glass or fiberglass.

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About This Writer

author eric devin

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

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