How Do You Remove Primer? (5-Step Guide)

Wondering how to remove that pesky primer from places it shouldn't be?

You're in the right place!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about removing primer
  • Supplies you'll need for removing primer
  • The essential steps to removing primer from various places

And much more!

How Do You Remove Primer? (5-Step Guide)

Whether you are working on a new project, repainting, or remodeling sometimes the paint primer has got to come off. 

Want to know how to remove primer like a pro in certain painting situations? Stay tuned. 

Here is a good strategy for removing the primer when that time comes!

So, before you do remove prier from your project, I recommend you read our expert advice on how to evaluate your situation the right way and remove the primer more effectively!

What You Need To Know About Removing Primer

Some paint jobs look bad, and old paint just needs to come off.

Whether it's from the walls, wood, metal, or whatever it might be that you want to strip the paint off of you might find yourself in a primal situation scraping away like a crazy person. 

But that's okay! It's nice to get the prep work out of the way first when painting. 

Use some elbow grease, and you will have a clean surface in no time!

For example, maybe you have a coffee table that is made of a decent hardwood like oak, and it is painted a solid white, but now you want to remove the paint and use a stain to take advantage of the coffee table's natural look. 

Well, aside from having a game plan and a space worth dirtying up a bit, here are some supplies that will help you get the job done faster.

Read More >> How Do You Get Primer Off Your Hands?

Removing primer whether it is old or new paint is going to take some work.

If you are removing it from a large surface like a wall, it may be necessary to whip out an electric sanding tool like an orbital sander or palm sander to get the job done fast and efficiently. 

And remember, if you are painting over an old wall, it's not necessary to remove the existing paint and primer first; you can smooth out the surface just by roughing it up with 220 grit sandpaper and go to town on the actual painting.

Priming the wall, however, is a great idea and necessary when painting over oil-based paints with water-based(latex) paint products.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Supplies You’ll Need For Removing Paint Primer

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Primers For Wood?

Did you know: When it comes to getting paint, primer (and even permanent marker) from your skin, sometimes oils are your best bet!  This is because some solutions are fat soluble (a.k.a oils) not water soluble.

How Do You Remove Primer (5-Step Guide)

  1. Scrape off loose paint with a paint scraper/putty knife OR pressure washer(outdoor projects)
  2. Sand the surface
  3. Try a paint remover like paint thinner/isopropyl alcohol to remove small particles
  4. Vacuum surface and area
  5. Ready for paint!​

Step 1 - Scrape off loose paint with a paint scraper/putty knife OR pressure washer(outdoor projects)

The first thing you are going to want to do when removing primer from a surface is to remove the loosest parts with a paint scraper or putty knife. 

This will safe you some time if you don't have a palm sander on hand, and it will also save sanding pads for when they are needed. Some surfaces will scrape of other than other surfaces.

Removing Primer From Outdoor projects like a brick? Use a pressure washer!

On outdoor projects like home exteriors, a pressure washer does a great job at stripping paint enough to be able to reapply.

Just don't spray with too high of pressure because you can damage the surface of what you are painting.

Step 2 - Sand the surface 

Sanding before painting is the wisest idea in almost all cases. The sandpaper makes the surface of whatever you are painting smoother, and therefore more ready to accept the paint that you are about to spray, roll, or paint onto it. 

You could also try leaving painted objects like hardware in warm water to loosen the paint layers and make the paint more easily removable. Vegetable oil works well on plastic surfaces.

Are You Painting Walls?

If you are painting walls, then you can get a piece of 120 grit sandpaper pair with a handy sanding pole. Put your back into it and sand it well for the best results.

Remember; the more time you spend prepping, the better the paint job will turn out. 

Painting A Car?

When stripping the paint off of a car, you may want to upgrade your sanding equipment to an orbital sander or buffer that has a bit more power because completely removing all the paint and primer can be a pain in the neck in the automotive application.

Check out this great video that provides some excellent tips for automotive paint removal. 

Step 3 - Try a paint remover like paint thinner/isopropyl alcohol to remove small particles

Rub paint thinner(for oil-based paints), rubbing alcohol(latex paint) or even acetone on the surface(smaller projects)

For smaller projects, you might also want to use some sort of chemical to completely remove any paint particles from the project. This could work well for projects like banisters and handrails that have a lot of nooks and crannies where you can't reach with sandpaper. 

Of course, if you are painting the walls, then sanding will do. Just remember that when painting over oil-based paint to apply a primer first when applying latex over the top; latex(water-based) doesn't like to bond to oil-based paint.

You can do this by simply holding a rag up to the bottle of mineral spirits or turpentine until the surface is completely free of the primer. 

A toothbrush is another handy tool that could help you effectively remove primer with the aid of paint thinner(oil-based paints). 

Still didn't work? Use acetone 

Acetone is a solvent that removes both oil and latex paint, but because it is extremely strong and toxic you should only use it as a last resort when removing any type of paint. 

Step 4 - Clean or vacuum the surface area

Now, you don't want your paint job to turn out bad before it begins by getting dust flakes in it. This is one of the most common painting mistakes, especially when using a spray gun. 

Do yourself a favor and clean up all of the dust and flakes you have just made however you can, whether it is with a shop vac or broom. 

Step 5 - Ready for paint

Now your project should be ready to paint once again!

Need some tips on how to clean your paint gun? Check out articles like How To Clean A Paint Sprayer on our Pro Paint Corner painting blog!

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Other Valuable Resources On How To Remove Primer

Paint Safe

We just want to remind you that using nitrile/rubber gloves and eye-protective wear as well as a respirator or cotton mask will help prevent the risk of serious health issues and injury when applying and removing paint. 

Questions?

Hit us with all of your paint-related questions on our Pro Paint Corner paint blog!

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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Got Paint Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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