It never seems to fail that at least once during a paint job a drop or two ends up in an unintended spot. The method used for removing paint from varnished trim depends on how much paint there is, and of what kind. The main divisions in paint type are water-based and oil-based. Each has recommended thinning agents that are described on the label. Obtain this information if possible for best results.
Wet a rag with water for latex and other water-based paints. Apply the wet rag to the spot as quickly as possible to prevent drying. Scrub the spot thoroughly to remove it and wipe away any residue.
Rinse the rag and wipe the surface with clean water to remove any final residue from the spot. Wipe over it with a clean paper towel to dry the trim surface.
Wet your spot rag with a solvent for oil-based paint. Alcohol, nail polish remover and paint thinners will all work. Use the same technique applied for water-based paints. Respond quickly for the best chance of removing fresh paint.
Dry Water-Based Paint
Apply a small amount of denatured alcohol with a cotton swab to the spot and allow it to set for a few seconds. Fairly fresh paint will dissolve.
Wipe it away with a clean towel or rag. Scrape off older paint.
Rinse the surface with a damp rag to remove the residual from the alcohol which can soften the varnish over time.
Dry Oil-Based Paint
Read the label to determine the best thinning agent for your particular paint. Unlike latex, which is fairly generic in makeup, oil paints are individually formulated. The most common thinning agents are mineral spirits, turpentine and acetone.
Use any product labeled as paint thinner, nail polish remover, alcohol or solvent based cleaner if the specific product needed is unavailable. These will be somewhat effective.
Apply the thinning agent to the paint spot with a cotton swab. Wipe the dissolved paint away. Paint remover or stripper can be used in the same way in emergencies.
Rinse the spot with a rag dampened in mineral spirits or other thinner to remove any residue. Repair dull spots in the veneer with clear nail polish.
Sand the most stubborn spots. Apply very light pressure using the finest available grit. Work in short bursts to prevent scratching through the varnish.
Apply heat with a heat gun to stubborn paint to make it softer. Scrape off the softened paint.
Work carefully and gently to minimize the damage. Clear nail polish can be used to touch up small dull spots in the varnish finish.
Things You'll Need:
- Paint thinners
- Paint stripper
- Sanding, scraping or grinding tools
- Heat gun
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