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how to remove polycrylic

Polycrylic is a water-based clear protective finish used on wood surfaces to provide durability and protection. If you need to remove Polycrylic from a wood surface, you can do so with some effort and care. Here’s how to remove Polycrylic:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Paint stripper or paint remover (choose one suitable for water-based finishes)
  • Paintbrush or paint applicator
  • Plastic scraper or putty knife
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Sandpaper (various grits, including fine)
  • Mineral spirits or denatured alcohol (optional)
  • Protective gear: gloves, safety glasses, and a well-ventilated workspace


  1. Prepare Your Workspace:
    • Ensure you are working in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. Use protective gear like gloves and safety glasses.
  2. Apply Paint Stripper:
    • Brush or apply a suitable paint stripper or paint remover over the Polycrylic-coated surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and wait for the recommended dwell time.
  3. Scrape Off the Polycrylic:
    • Once the paint stripper has had time to soften the Polycrylic, use a plastic scraper or putty knife to gently scrape away the softened finish. Be careful not to gouge or damage the wood surface.
  4. Repeat as Needed:
    • Depending on the thickness of the Polycrylic and the number of layers, you may need to repeat the stripping process to remove all the finish.
  5. Clean the Surface:
    • After you’ve removed as much of the Polycrylic as possible with the paint stripper, wipe down the surface with rags or paper towels to remove any residue. If necessary, you can use mineral spirits or denatured alcohol to clean the surface further. Follow the solvent manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Sand the Surface:
    • To fully remove any remaining traces of Polycrylic and smooth the wood surface, lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. Start with a higher grit (e.g., 220) and gradually move to a finer grit (e.g., 320) until the surface is smooth.
  7. Clean and Finish:
    • After sanding, thoroughly clean the wood surface to remove any sanding dust. You can wipe it down with a damp cloth and then allow it to dry completely.
    • If you plan to apply a new finish, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the new finish you intend to use.
  8. Dispose of Waste Properly:
    • Dispose of any used paint stripper, rags, or materials according to local regulations and safety guidelines.

Remember that removing Polycrylic can be labor-intensive, and it may take several attempts to fully remove it, especially if multiple coats were applied. Always follow safety precautions when working with paint strippers, wear appropriate protective gear, and work in a well-ventilated area.

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