Do I Scrape All Paint Off Before Painting?

Have To Scrape All Paint Off Before Painting?


Wondering if you have to scrape all paint before painting? You must first remove any old paint coating which has failed. Giving you insight, how to determine paint needing scraped, also showing you how to scrape paint. Giving you our 40+ years of paint scraping tips.

Providing you paint scraping tips for interior, exterior. Knowing how to scrape paint, keeping your sanity on one of the most mundane paint preparations. Explaining how to remove old exterior paint, with best sanders, paint scrapers for removal. Working on siding, windows, eves, & soffits, all old paint may need scraping, before further paint preparations.




Using best ways to scrape paint off old paint on wood siding, making this preparation step as easy as possible. Paint scraping is a very manual labored task, but well worth your efforts, many years to come.

I really know how reluctant this can be. Like going to the dentist getting a tooth pulled, or waiting in line at the DMV. This guy wishes he could just swing that hammer, knocking off old paint. Mad he's having to do it, but using a paint scraper is what is needed. Actually his own fault letting it get this bad, having to do more work now.

However, paint scraping adds countless years to quality paints, which if not done, can even cause best exterior lifetime paints to fail. As I've mentioned in previous articles, "Paint is Not Smart". A good quality exterior paint is only as good as the substrate it is covering.




Do you need to scrape all old paint off before painting? A universal answer is No, this is not necessary. You only need to remove all paint which has failed. Most of the time, just selected, problem areas, where paint has been compromised , must be removed.

I know this is a subject everyone loves doing, so will make it as entertaining, & painless as I can. Hopefully you do not need to scrape every bit of exterior paint off of your siding.

You also need to scrape all paint not adhering, bonding properly. Loose, cracking, peeling paint needing to be abrasively removed, before painting over old paint on wood, showing you below.

These scraping techniques will give you the upper hand (no pun intended) rasping off paint, before painting your surfaces.

How To Best Scrape Paint




Best Ways Scraping Paint

  • Learning how to scrape will go much quicker
  • Scrape up paint until it's grabbing
  • If wood comes up with paint, stop
  • Try lifting up paint that would come up in next six months
  • Take your time, drink plenty of water

Learning how to best scrape paint, once mastered, will go much quicker & easier with proper tools. Starting at the most obvious place, like a bubble, chip, or blister, working outward all directions.

Scraping paint up until you reach paint that is properly grabbing.  How to scrape paint best using a repetitive arm movement, holding paint scraper in your hand, placing a blade under paint, using leverage, prying it away from surface underneath.

If wood comes up with paint you just scraped up, stop. Wood could be too damaged already by deterioration, (which would need to be replaced), or scraper could be digging too much into woods surface. If this happens, you'd be best served by using Peel Stop® over these problem areas.




Any paint bubbles, having air pockets between paint and surface underneath will scrape up very easily. On the flip-side, any paint grabbing, bonding, properly will not scrape up that easy, without using more aggressive abrasive tools.

Good idea is to scrape up old paint that would be coming up in next six months. Any paint harder to scrape, will surely stay longer than this time period. Making it safe to paint over.

It's best taking your time, because paint scraping is time consuming. Do not get overheated, drink plenty of water, work in shade if it all possible. I know scraping paint is Not your favorite thing to do, but safety is number one, and how you will get through this painting process is key.

How To Remove Old Exterior Paint




Best way how to remove old exterior paint depends how much you have to scrape, as there are several techniques. Either by manual paint scrapers, or electric tools designed specifically to remove paint. Not matter what, old paint just doesn't come off by itself. Needs a little help convincing it, by scraping.

Using either one, all cracked, bubbling, blistering, or peeling paint will lift up much easier than old paint still adhering.

Depending how thick paint coating might be is in direct relation how much work will be removing it. If a very thick coat of old paint takes more work removing, less abrasive scraping, than a thin old flaking paint coat. Thicker the coat, more convincing you might need to do.




Removing old exterior paint can be done with manual hand tools, or electric powered tools. Manual tools like long flat razor blades, handle paint scrapers, putty knives, 5 way painter's tool.

If powered tools like orbital sanders, vibrating sanders, or rotary paint removers. If powered tools used, best not staying in one place too long, when removing exterior paint. Reason why is do not want to damage wood underneath, leaving gouges, or marks. If that does happen, will need to fill with exterior Spackle, then sanding that smooth.

Best Way To Scrape Paint Off Old Paint On Wood Siding




Best way to scrape paint off old paint on wood siding, is first having a dried surface to work with. Once exterior siding thoroughly dried, paint will be much easier to scrape off, being much more brittle. The more brittle, easier paint can be lifted up, scraped, chipped away.

Whatever tool you use, careful not gouging surface underneath. If this happens, you'll need a wood filler, sanding, making smooth once again. Having done this many times, for long edges of wood siding, you'd be best served using a long handle BBQ wire brush as a paint scraper for removal. Same wire brush comes in handy, a good tool when cleaning paint brushes also.

If you have a large wood siding area, requiring paint to be removed, we've used an electric Warner Paint Eater®, which takes on some of the biggest jobs. Be sure wearing eye protection! As these particulates go everywhere, and eyes definitely need protected. Speaking of blowing, don't you blow off scraping your siding of old paint. That would be counter-productive.


Eye_protection_very _important


Eye protection very important using manual hand paint scrapers, or electric powered ones. Being up on the roof, scraping paint, a strong wind can start, blowing against wood siding. Scraped chips getting airborne, taking them where you do not want, specifically near eyes.

Best way to scrape paint off older paint on wooden siding is having an organized pattern to check, then remove. We like starting top right, working left. Coming down one rung of siding each time, working opposite direction. This is good if entire siding, paint needs to be removed. This sounds like days of work, but you'd be surprised, especially using Warner PaintEATER.

Matter of fact, took me about 30 minutes going over a 10' X 10' shed, using same tool. I then used Crawford's Exterior Spackle, sanding, then priming, using Sherwin-Williams™ Extreme Bond Primer®.

Paint Scraping Tips




Paint Tips Finding Paint To Scrape

  • Anywhere paint has faded
  • After pressure washing
  • Door trim
  • Window frames
  • Soffits, eves, & fascia
  • Act like a dental hygienist

First tip I'd like to mention, scraping paint is actually the most obvious. Any where paint has faded out, by all means check proper bonding. As you can see with picture above, not only is paint peeling up, but it has faded.

Paint fade is the first place we check, painting an exterior. Second place you want to check for potential paint scraping is after pressure washing. Knowing you're not trying to peel paint off by washing, but sometimes loose paint will fly off under high water pressure. If so, come back next day after rinsing off siding, attending to those areas specifically.

Third tip would be start scraping where it's already starting peeling back, working outward. I remember we were painting an exterior home in Denver, prepping trim around a front door. Had to scrape back several layers of paint, because you guessed it, bottom layer was not holding.

Once completed, troweled on exterior Spackle, sanding once dried, then primed. Checking every area near door trim, making sure there was not anymore that needed to be scraped off.

Forth tip finding paint to scrape is with windows. Checking for potential paint removal. Reason to really pay attention to these areas, is because of so much drastic temperature changes, being only layer from inside home, and outside. Window are a great place to find paint needing to be scraped & removed. If you do, be sure to use a very good primer afterwards. Then you won't be scraping again anytime very soon.

Fifth area to check is soffits, and fascia. These areas are most exposed on the outside, getting the brunt of weather conditions. A thorough inspection of paint scraping should be done in this area too. Before picking up a roller painting eves & soffits.

Sixth tip most important is checking like a dental assistant checking every tooth for plaque. You should check every area, every sector of exterior paint to scrape, hoping you find it, instead of painting over it. Just as a dental assistant finds all the plaque on your teeth, you want to do the same with your exterior paint preparations.

Do I Need To Scrape Off Old Paint




No, you only need to scrape off old paint not properly adhering. Not all old paint. If any paint is flaking, curling up, this must all be removed, easiest way is scraping. Using a hand or powered tool, remove all this paint off of surface, before going any further.

Good way to check paint properly laying down, adhering is tapping it with point on end of painter's 5 way tool. If you hear a hollow sound, you can bet there's air underneath, and has already lifted up.

Paint which has lifted up, but can fool you if you don't check it. Old paint can be a deceiver in the painting world. Looking like everything is OK, having air pockets underneath, this must be removed, scraping paint off, before any new coating applied.

Again, Paint Is Not Smart. New paint will continue failing not scraping off old paint which has failed. After all old failed paint has been scraped, you may need to fill, sand, following rest of recommended best painting preparations.

Use Best Sanders, Exterior Paint Scrapers For Removal


Best_Sanders_ Paint_Scrapers_For_Removal


Some of the very best paint scraper tools are the cheapest. A good long handled wire brush a couple of dollars. A sanding block, a 2 inch putty knife may be a little more. Buying or I should say investing in a pair of googles for eye protection is worth it's weight in gold, costing about the same.

Having a good sharp razor knife, a flat blade handled razor scraper works good for larger areas. I know, cause I have several. If out in the field, team needs one, I just buy another, must have a box of them by now.

Dewalt® offers a very good 5" Variable speed disk sander, we use sanding large siding areas, + top deck handrails.

The DEWALT 5 in. Variable Speed Disk Sander has a 6 Amp motor that delivers superior performance in high-torque sanding applications for faster sanding. Featuring an adjustable dust shroud that can be connected to a vacuum to keep your work environment clean, this sander is a breeze to use with a mid-handle design with soft grip and a side handle for increased balance and less user fatigue. Super fast, lightweight, powerful and durable, this sander is ideal for use on the jobsite, in your workshop or for DIY projects around your home.

  • 6 Amp motor delivers superior performance in high-torque sanding applications for faster sanding

  • 0-3700 OPM, VSR trigger dial for versatility in a wide array of sanding applications

  • Adjustable dust shroud can be connected to vacuum for a cleaner work area

  • Mid-handle design with soft grip and side handle provides increased balance and relieves user fatigue

  • Accepts 5 in., 5-hole hook and loop paper, for readily available paper to be changed quickly and easily

  • Includes: 5 in. 8 hole hook and loop pad, dust shroud and wrench (for installing and replacing 5 in. H and L pad)

  • 3-year limited warranty; 1-year free service contract; 90-day money back guarantee

Wagner PaintEATER, we've used many times, working great removing, removing problem paint. Most importantly, wear eye protection, as paint peels fly off! Making a dreaded paint removal task, much easier. Not repeating myself, but remember to wear eye protection with this tool. You can thank me later.

Does not harm wood underneath, but takes off old paint from siding pretty amazing. Get substantial use out of each one of disks. Good to have a reserve though, as they do wear out.




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Take the frustration out of paint removal and surface prep with the Wagner Paint Eater. This unique tool is designed and optimized to give even inexperienced users the ability to removepeeling paint without damaging the substrate allowing for a smooth, long-lasting new coat of paint.

These two electrical powered paint removers, scrapers for larger areas work great, we personally have in our arsenal of paint scrapers, removals.

Painting Over Old Paint On Wood



Before painting over old paint on wood, scraping all loose, cracking, chipping, or peeling paint must be abrasively removed. Once this is done, wood is ready for a good bonding primer.

Allowing primer to dry, your finish coat will properly bond, lasting many years. Doing this, making sure the wood substrate is sound, still in good condition, not having any mildew, or wood rot.

Because let's face it, paint is not smart. Paint is only as good as the substrate it's covering, this being wood, and know your are much smarter than paint.

In closing;

I know this is not a subject you're dying to read about. Because who searches the internet if you have to scrape all paint before painting? Just giving you all our scraping tips & info. as this is a very important part of painting.

Great news, you do not have to scrape all of paint, only paint failing, not still bonding. Bad news is you need to check it all, making sure, pretending to be a dental hygienist, before repainting exterior or interior.

Scrape off, rasp, sand, or scuff all old paint not properly bonding, or adhering is your key. Followed by other steps, preparing exterior for painting.

Hope you've gained valuable insight with scraping paint before painting additional coats of paint. If so, please like, share, ping, and/or comment below.

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3 years ago

Thanks for the great information. I am a novice at this and wanted to ask a question after reading your post. You mentioned not all paint need to be stripped. I have a window frame where some paint is peeling, while some paint is tightly bonded. If i scrape off only the peeling paint and then attempt to paint the frame with some parts bare wood, some parts painted, wouldn’t the finish look “bumpy” when painted? How do i achieve a flat smooth finish?


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