A clumsy contractor put a paint can on a table of mine (no stain, varnish, 100% fresh wood) and a ring of paint got left behind on the table. What is the best way to remove the paint so that I can stain the table and have it look nice? I'm not even sure what kind of wood the table is made from. It's definitely not oak. It's a white-ish wood with very faint grains visible. Maybe maple?

I was thinking of using paint stripper to get the paint off but I'm afraid that when I come back to stain, I'll see splotches. I'm hoping to avoid extreme sanding.

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    What kind of paint? How long ago was this (asking to determine if the paint is fully dried or only just dry)? Regardless of the answers to these I would recommend trying to scrape it off. Plane it if you have a hand plane, even if only a block plane. Keep wet methods in reserve, only go to them if other things fail. You can use any sharp knife for the scraping if you're careful (I regularly scrape with a kitchen knife).
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:19
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    BTW if the wood is a tight-grained hardwood as it sounds like from your description penetration should be minimal, so once you're down to the surface you'll only have to remove a very small amount of material to get back to a pristine surface.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:20
  • @Graphus the paint has been dried for maybe a year now. Little penetration would be super
    – mj_
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:03
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    Oh wow that's way longer than I'd anticipated. OK at this point you can take it as a given it's fully cured!
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


If this is raw wood then some of that water-based finish remover should be just fine. You can dab it on just where you see paint, cover with plastic wrap to keep it wet, and let it sit as per the product instructions. I'd use painter's tape to seal the edges.

As long as it is wet, it is active. So you can scrape it off carefully with a scraper and maybe fine wet sandpaper. You can even try steel wool, though some people recommend against this. Maybe stainless steel wool is better.

Once the paint is removed you want to carefully clean the the area down with clean wet rags to remove any residual stripper and let the wood dry completely. If done carefully I suspect you will only have to do a light sanding prep to get ready for finishing.

If the stain soaked in deeper, you can try stripping it again. In fact, sometimes I get better results reapplying the stripper on damp wood.

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