Removing paint from aluminum can be a little tricky. A lot of the commercial paint strippers out there may damage the surface, so you need to have a good idea of what you are doing to avoid any unintentional damage. In this article I’ll tell you a little about aluminum safe paint remover and what you need to know before using it.
Mixes like baking soda and vinegar can safely remove paint with a little elbow grease and while most commercial paint removers are bad, there are some commercial strippers designed for aircraft aluminum that you can use. Finally, as far as common strippers, Citristrip can work but we’ll talk more about this shortly.
What takes paint off of aluminum?
Barring commercial options, there are a few things that you can use to take paint off of aluminum. Vinegar and baking soda is one, and this is commonly used due to the readiness of the ingredients and the fact that they work a treat with a little scrubbing. Another little-known, but useful option is automotive brake cleaner.
It doesn’t smell the greatest, but it will get the paint off very quickly. Just be sure that you use eye protection and gloves if you try a method like this, as this stuff is quite corrosive. Finally, steel wool and sandpaper are popular choices for removing paint from aluminum. Yes, it’s a solution that takes a bit of time, but some prefer an approach that is managed and controlled like sandpaper, to avoid any potential damage to the painted aluminum.
Is paint remover safe on aluminum?
Paint remover should be used with caution. Some chemicals are fine, such as acetone, which will thin out paint to get it removed without damaging aluminum. Many strippers are fine too, but you need to stay away from welded areas and follow the label instructions to a ‘t’. With paint removing chemicals, it’s generally going to be about how long you leave the chemicals there.
Some commercial strippers are specifically designed for aluminum. One example of this is Rust-oleum aircraft remover. Strippers like this one are designed for aluminum and other metals and will allow you to safely remove baked-in enamel, acrylic, lacquer, and even polyurethane… just stick to the instructions.
If you don’t want the fancy stripper for aircraft aluminum, there are certainly other options. Citristrip is one that I like and we’ll take a look at that next.
Is Citristrip safe on aluminum?
Citristrip stripping gel is one commercial option that is inexpensive and a coat of it will work for up to 24 hours, stripping away paint from metal, wood, and more. This stuff is definitely safe to use on aluminum and it’s good for removing shellac, polyurethane, lacquer, varnish, and oil-based paints.
I like using this stuff mostly because it works and it doesn’t make the area smell awful while it’s doing it. For best results, after you apply it, drape a plastic sheet over it and let the stuff sit and do its job (check your labeling for best practices, but this stuff works slowly but surely and should be just fine).
If you like environmentally friendly products, then you might like knowing that this stripper doesn’t employ methylene chloride like most strippers or any NMP. Despite this, it’s a solid formula and a heft application can remove multiple layers of paint in a single stroke.
Give it a try and see what you think. I’ve had excellent results with metal and especially furniture with this product, so it’s handy to have a little on-hand in case a slow, but citrus-scented solution.
In closing: Aluminum safe options are out there, just read those labels!
In this article I’ve talked about aluminum safe paint remover options and how they should be used. You can definitely use commercial products such as Rust-oluem aircraft remover and Citristrip gel, or any acetone based thinner or stripper can also do the trick nicely. Finally, a little sandpaper or steel wool or even a baking soda and vinegar mix can also get that paint off of your aluminum, just be patient and persistent and it will be clean before you know it.
If you’d like to read a more comprehensive list of paint remover options for different surfaces, weather conditions, and more, than be sure to check out my DIY paint remover guide here. Finally, if you need to know about stripping paint on anodized aluminum, you can find a nifty 3rd-party link here that will help you to get that safely sorted out!