Pickling or grinding? A juxtaposition

Again and again, the question arises whether it is better to pick paint layers, or rather to sand down. What speaks for the grinding, and what speaks for the pickling, tells you in detail this post.


Pickling works with chemical paint strippers. Caustic soda is also used to remove old layers of paint and to remove paint - in this case, however, one usually speaks of "leaching" and not pickling.

Risks when pickling

The stripping requires chemicals that are very unhealthy and their vapors are also harmful to health. In addition, the chemical action of the paint strippers can also completely destroy valuable woods, such as walnut wood, if an improper paint remover is used.

Benefits of pickling

Coating layers are dissolved relatively quickly, and can be relatively easily removed even at higher thickness of the paint layers (or layers of paint). The paint loses its adhesion to the substrate and can be easily scraped off.

It is also possible to remove highly sticky or liquefying paint layers. When grinding, this is often a problem because heated by the grinding process, the paint and glued almost immediately the abrasive sheets, so that in practice a grinding is hardly possible.


Sanding is always the safest solution, apart from the problem of sticky layers of lacquer, which also offers no health hazards and no risk of destroying wood. Therefore, you should always, where only possible grind rather than stain or paint.

Tips & Tricks

One way to effectively remove difficult or very thick layers of paint from wood is by planing. If you set an electric planer so that only about 0.5 mm are planed, you can remove so much of the paint layers well from smooth surfaces. This works even faster and easier than pickling.

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