As a result, its often the case that where one type of stripper works perfectly with a modern paint formulation, it may be ineffective against an old paint or varnish from the 1960’s or 70’s.

The same applies the other way round, where strippers that are effective against old paints may not be as effective on new. Paint strippers and varnish removers are usually available in sample or small tin sizes of between 250ml to 500ml.

You can pick up a lead testing kit at your local decorating centre or DIY store.

If you find any lead, the British Coatings Federation have produced a leaflet about how to deal with it, which you can read here: “Old Lead Painted Surfaces – A Guide on Repainting and Removal for DIY and Professional Painters and Decorators”.

On the downside, you tend to use more of it, so it can end up more expensive than a caustic stripper.

Solvents can also cause burns, smell awful and must only be used in a very well-ventilated space.

Much better than the bad old days when your only choice was pure caustic soda, nasty stuff!

You can strip any kind of wood, even heavily-carved wood, as long as you use the right products and materials and follow the instructions meticulously, particularly if you want to strip something expensive, rare or precious.

They give off fewer fumes than solvent-based paint strippers, are cheaper and tend to work faster.

On the other hand caustic products usually contain a very strong alkaline which may react with chemicals in the wood resulting in staining or scorching of the wood.

Whatever you want to do, first you’ll need to get all of that rubbish off the surface to reveal the stunning wood beneath.