Are you looking for the best heat guns for removing paint?
We've got your back!
In this ProPaintCorner Review, you'll discover:
- How removing paint with a heat gun works
- What to look for when buying a heat gun for paint removal
- Our top heat gun for paint removal picks
And much more!
Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use the perfect heat gun for removing paint!
Our Top Pick
Our Top Pick
Wagner Spraytech HT1000 Heat Gun
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Best High End
Best High End
DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless
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DeWalt Heat Gun Kit
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
Updated On February 17, 2023
Removing paint with a heat gun isn't rocket science. It doesn't require fancy or expensive tools.
Sure, you could treat yourself to a higher-end model, such as either of the DeWalts. That'd give you a more premium experience.
All that said-- the Wagner Spraytech HT1000 earns our overall top pick.
If you're after a simple, no-fuss heat gun to remove paint, you're safe to choose this rig.
Its ergonomic design makes it easy to hold during long paint removal sessions.
Oh, and its also the top seller on Amazon out of all shop heat guns, and also it's very highly-rated.
Top 5 Best Heat Guns To Remove Paint
In a hurry? Check out our top five heat guns for removing paint below! Keep reading to discover more about our top heat gun picks for removing paint.
How Does Removing Paint With A Heat Gun Work?
Stripping paint with a heat gun may seem like a mortal form of magic.
The process is only part-magic. The rest: one might call it science.
In a nutshell, the premise is to heat layers of paint to where they soften and begin to melt.
Then, once the paint becomes pliable, it can be easily peeled or scraped away.
This heat gun paint softening approach works especially well on painted metal and brick surfaces.
Once you establish a technique with your hot air gun manipulating the painted surface, you can heat an area with one hand and scrape it with the other.
This two-handed technique is optional. You could heat an area, turn your heat gun off, set it down and then scrape away that heated, softened area with both hands.
Either way is fine. Make sure you feel comfortable and don't accidentally point the heat gun toward any exposed skin. These high-powered electric heat guns have the power to cause severe burns if misused.
Read More >> How Do You Remove Paint From Brick?
What Is Proper Heat Gun Safety
In a sense, a heat gun is a stove mixed with an actual gun. Rather than firing bullets, a heat gun fires hot air. And so, it should be treated with the same level of respect and caution that you'd have towards using either a gun or a stove.
Used properly, these are all intended to be and should serve as intended, as tools.
You want to make sure you never point your heat gun towards the flesh of any human or animal. This includes, but is not limited to, the face, hands, arms, legs, hair-- any part of any living creature.
Heat gun temperatures can rise to over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in under a minute. Even to simply wave your hand in front of a heat gun to see if it's warmed up yet, could be an incredibly painful folly.
Get a good handle on the situation by investing in a quality pair of work gloves that are designed to withstand high temperatures.
You could borrow a pair of gloves from your welding kit if you have one handy as they'll certainly have the heat-insulating properties that you'll want.
Of course, the heat will be a bear, but to wear long sleeves and long pants is another way to avoid potential burns. Sure you'll sweat like a pig, but you'll avoid anything worse.
Sold old paint is lead-based and can emit some pretty horrendous and quite toxic fumes when heated. The US Government has published reports on this exact process and the danger associated with the fumes that are emitted.
Use a proper NIOSH-approved respirator and spare your lungs and brain cells the onslaught from those random paint gasses.
Also, please be aware, that these emitted fumes are especially harmful to children, even at far lower concentrations than would affect an adult.
In addition to proper ventilation, insist that kids go and play outside or at a friend's house while you're doing this work.
Body and mind
Stay well hydrated by drinking a glass of water before you begin. Then take a break minimally every 45 minutes.
Drink another glass on break. You'll be working in heat, and you'll likely have those long sleeves and gloves on.
You'll be hot, sweating, and possibly getting less oxygen to your brain than you're normally used to getting. Sweat means essential minerals coming out of your body and the potential for dehydration.
Mitigate this by taking frequent breaks and by beginning your workday properly hydrated with water and fueled with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Here's a guide that was written by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services detailing the importance of staying hydrated for your best health, and especially when exerting yourself physically.
Let it warm-up and cool-off
Yes, there is a warm-up period for these electric element-powered heat guns.
Generally, about 45 seconds into running and the heat gun should be emitting air at the temperature at which the temperature control dial is set.
If you'd like to reduce your heat gun's temperature or switch nozzles, turn it off first. Set it down, let it cool, then switch nozzles, reset your temperature control settings and start all over again with a new warmup period.
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What To Consider When Buying A Heat Gun For Removing Paint
Sure, there used to be more choices when shopping for a heat gun, including gas-powered units and other more exotic choices.
These days, you're going to choose an electric heat gun for most DIY challenges and certainly for removing paint. Anything else is more cumbersome and far more involved than is necessary.
Electric models are safe, efficient, and inexpensive. Oh yeah, and they work.
There are essentially two main types of electric heat guns that you'll think of or encounter.
You have your shop-grade models and your low-end version, the hair blow dryer.
Similar premise, entirely different scale. The shop-grade heat guns we recommend here are intended for many things; they're not to ever be pointed toward exposed skin.
The mechanism and engineering behind a dual temperature shop heat gun are not that dissimilar from a standard hair dryer, only that the shop gun operates at far higher temperatures.
Here's a video breakdown of how paint stripping using a heat gun works.
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What Are the Various Heat Gun Nozzle Choices?
Ok, so we've established that heat guns vary only slightly from one to the next, so your finding the right one is all about honing in on the finer details.
It's also somewhat a matter of personal choice.
Once you do choose a heat gun, you've got a variety of nozzle-types to consider for particular tasks, including paint removal.
Here's an overview of some of the most common ones.
Spoon Reflector Nozzle:
This nozzle forces air into a small conical-shaped channel and then flips it back around 180 degrees after bouncing off a small hook or spoon-shaped piece of stainless steel.
These nozzles are used when soldering. They help direct heat around a small area.
A nozzle in a "fishtail" shape pushes the hot air into a flat fanned-out shape. The purpose of such a nozzle is for situations where wide heat application is needed.
You might have some luck alternating a fishtail nozzle in your repertoire of nozzles when using your heat gun to remove paint.
A tapered nozzle with a hot air opening that becomes more narrow is called a cone nozzle.
Some get gradually more narrow, while others have a stair-stepped pattern that almost looks like a tiered cake.
The purpose of a cone nozzle is to concentrate the heat in a small space. You could try this attachment for especially thick painted areas that need more softening than others.
Inbuilt Scraper Nozzle:
This tool is one you want as a part of your arsenal when looking to do heat gun paint removal.
It's like a regular scraper, but this one attaches right to the end of your heat gun so said scraping attachment heats up to close to a thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
Read More >> How Do You Paint A Wall Like A Pro?
Our Reviews Of The Best Heat Guns For Removing Paint
Pick #1: Wagner Spraytech HT1000 Heat Gun
Well, this one has two fan speeds, both operating rather quietly.
The HT1000's 4100 BTU output makes it capable of stripping many layers of paint at once.
Throw in the free two-year manufacturer's warranty and you see why we made this our top recommended electric heat gun for paint removal.
Pick #2: BLACK+DECKER HG1300
With the HG1300, you're getting the dual temperature heat gun experience that you'd have on other higher-end models, at a very reasonable price point.
At 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in high-temperature mode, this model has as much paint stripping power as most other devices in its class.
Quick device cool-down is done easily using the built-in stand.
Its included 1375 watt heating element is one of the more high-powered you'll find. That extra power does come in handy when removing old paint layers off walls.
Pick #3: DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless
You're that guy. You're walking around the job site with the same tool as everyone else, but you're not dragging around an extension cord everywhere you go like they are.
That freedom is going to come at some cost to you. Mocking, envious glances your way, and smack talk all could result from your taking this fancy heat gun on a job site.
In the case of the DeWalt cordless heat gun, that extra cost might be small enough to leave you in the "let's do it" category.
You can trust the DeWalt name brand, so that gives you the warm fuzzy feeling you want when adding a new tool to your collection.
So long as the 42-minute battery life doesn't turn you off, or if you're willing to stock up on a few backup batteries, this might be the way to treat yourself, especially if you have a big paint removal task on your plate.
Pick #4: Porter-Cable PC1500HG
This electric heat gun with adjustable temperature settings is a great DIY or hobbyist heat gun.
For a hot air gun, at its price point, this porter-cable heat gun is a great paint remover.
If the price weren't about 30% more than some similar competitors, the Porter-Cable could have easily taken our top honors.
The Porter-Cable PC1500HG is a robust heat gun and it does a great job heating old paint and putty for removal.
Like many in its class, it comes with a built-in support stand that makes soldering a lot easier.
Pick #5: DeWalt Heat Gun Kit
This temperature range display gives you the most granular temperature adjustment control of any other device that we've tested thus far.
You can set temperatures up or down by increments of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Considering that it tops out around 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, that's some incredibly precise control.
Once again, the addition of all the different nozzles that come with this kit may make the higher price point worth it.
Add to your peace-of-mind the fact that this DeWalt has an overload prevention feature that automatically shuts it off if it detects overheating.
Our Top Pick: Wagner Spraytech HT1000 Heat Gun
We're happy to select the Wagner Spraytech HT1000 as our top pick for a high-quality heat gun to remove paint.
The Spraytech has all the standard features you'd expect like dual heat settings, a backside flat-end kickstand feature, and an ergonomic design.
Its dual temperature settings are sufficient for removing paint.
Sure, the more granular controls of the higher-end models are nice to have for various other applications.
The two-year warranty and rave reviews it's gotten from buying customers pushed us over the edge. So, congratulations to Wagner for earning the ProPaintCorner overall top pick for heats guns used to remove paint.
Check out the lowest price now on Amazon!
Final Thoughts on Using Heat Guns To Remove Paint
While affordable and seemingly easy to use, a heat gun is a tool not to be taken lightly by anyone.
Make sure they're always stored out of reach of any children and let older children know not to ever touch or play with them.
Here's an EPA guide detailing the risks associated with removing paint and how potential lead exposure should be addressed.
Heat Guns Are Multitools
Bonus for you if you end up adding a heat gun to your tool collection.
There are so many other uses for shop-grade heat guns, besides removing paint.
The heat guns you see featured in this article are all capable of drying damp surfaces, softening glue, loosening soldered connections, bending plastic, and even shrink-wrapping.
That's hardly it, either. You can also use heat guns for thawing out frozen pipes during wintertime, loosening rusty bolts, and melting plastic pipes.
Provided you find one that works for removing paint, you'll be in good shape. All of these that we've featured here remove paint and do so well.