How to Get Spray Paint off Fiberglass


Last updated: May 13, 2023

Learn the Techniques You Need to Remove Spray Paint from Glass in a Simple and Accurate Way!

How to get spray paint off fiberglass.

Removing spray paint from fiberglass is a delicate process that requires planning. A few methods exist to remove spray paint from fiberglass without damaging the surface.

You can scrub gently with sandpaper, rinse with lots of water, or use approved paint strippers. You can also use safe solvents like mineral spirits, vinegar, and baking soda. 

Today we will discuss how to remove spray paint from fiberglass using different methods, detailing the requirements and each. We will also discuss whether spray paint removal is harmful to fiberglass. 

Let’s dive right in. 

How to Get Spray Paint off Fiberglass

Use a paint stripper for fiberglass. Gel-based paint strippers are preferable as they pose little risk to the material. You can also sand away the paint and rinse the mess with clean water. Cleansers, paint thinners, and baking soda also work fine on fiberglass. Always follow the application instructions on the label to avoid damaging the surface. 

Precautions Before Removing Paint From Fiberglass

While spray paint may seem straightforward, it can get messy if not carefully approached. For starters, you’ll be dealing with chemicals that may be toxic, so taking precautions is vital. Here are a few things to always remember when handling paint remover for fiberglass.

Wear safety gear: Always protect yourself from the health effects associated with toxic chemicals. Wear safety face masks, gloves, and goggles throughout the paint removal process. 

Spread a cloth or towel: This helps trap the paint residues from the fiberglass after it has cured. Paint stripper is typically unsafe for the environment, so you should collect all of it in one place for safer, responsible disposal. This step is also a clever way to keep your work as less messy as possible. 

Cover what’s important: If you are working indoors, consider covering essential items in the room to avoid damage from accidental splashing or spraying of paint removers. A plastic sheet is a good option for covering furniture and other household items you’d want to protect from chemical particles. 

Which Methods Can You Use to remove spray paint from Fiberglass?

With the precautions taken, let’s discuss the various techniques for removing spray paint from fiberglass. 

Method 1: Stripping Paint from Fiberglass

The first method entails clearing the unwanted paint with a paint stripper. You must strictly work with the right type of paint stripper, which is specifically made for fiberglass and similar delicate surfaces. 

One way to ascertain this is by looking at the label, as it will indicate whether the product is fiberglass-friendly. 

Again, gel or paste paint stripper is ideal for fiberglass since they’re less likely to drip off the substrate during the curing phase. 

Note: Paint strippers can damage fiberglass, so handle it carefully. 

Use Painter’s Tape to Mask Off the Edges

If you don’t intend to strip all the paint from the substrate, tape off the other areas and only focus on the affected patch. In this case, use painter’s tape to mask off the edges from where you intend to strip the spray paint. 

The painter’s tape works as a barrier to other parts of the substrate and should inform your steps as you apply the paint-stripping formula. 

Use a Test Patch to Determine the Cure Time

Before you start removing spray paint from fiberglass using a paint stripper, you must determine how long it will take for the paint to cure. Using a test patch is one sure way to go about it. 

Apply a tiny amount of paint stripper on a conspicuous section of the fiberglass and let it cure for some time. 

Read the manufacturer’s specifications and take note of this time. Keep checking the stripper to see if the paint has loosened. Note the time and confirm there’s no damage to the fiberglass. 

Apply the Stripper Formula

Once you can guarantee that the paint stripper will work effectively without issues, it’s time to use it on other parts of the fiberglass. If you’re using a paste stripper, use the application dowel provided. If using a gel stripper, use a brush. 

Apply the stripper evenly across the entire surface, maintaining the standard thickness volume indicated in the manual. Expect different application instructions for paint strippers, i.e., paste or gel strippers.

Allow it to Cure for the Appropriate Amount of Time

After spreading the stripper evenly on the surface, refer to the time it took with the test patch and use a timer to know when the paint will loosen from the substrate. Don’t surpass this time window, otherwise, the stripper might ruin the fiberglass.

Scrape Out the Paint

Gel and paste paint strippers are solid substances that require scraping to remove. Once the paint has cured, you may need to scrape them off using the scraping tool provided in the package (most products come with one). If not, use a plastic scraper to remove the stripper and paint residues. 

Avoid using a metal scraper as it may scratch and damage the fiberglass. As you work, apply moderate pressure, and be mindful of dents, cuts, and scratches that may occur from the scrapping.

Rinse the Paint and Stripper Off

It’s time to rinse the mess. You need lots of water to wash off all that stripper and paint residue. A regular garden hose would do, but do not use a pressure washer as it may splash the washer, creating a mess.

Method 2: Scrub with a Sandpaper

Scrubbing paint off fiberglass with sandpaper is another practical solution you can try. For this method, you’ll need to follow some complex safety measures. 

For example, check if sanding paint from fiberglass in open air is permitted where you stay, as some regulations disallow this. 

You may also need a special vacuum to ensure maximum safety. This is because the sanding particulate can be a health hazard once airborne, so you must minimize the pollution as much as possible. 

Once you confirm that it’s safe to sand paint from your car’s fiberglass components, move to the next step.

Find the Ideal Place to Sand

Since sanding in an open space is hazardous to the environment, find an isolated place to do the job. We suggest a garage with sufficient ventilation or an air filtration system. If it’s outdoors, ensure the weather is not windy.

Choose Suitable Sandpaper

You need several sandpaper grades to remove all the paint from the surface. We recommend 80-grit sandpaper for the first sanding phase before switching to 220-grit sandpaper for the second phase of paint removal. 

Be sure not to apply excess pressure, so work in moderation. Sanding the fiberglass to a smooth finish will help you achieve better results when repainting, but don’t sand through the fiberglass. These rules also apply if you use a power sander instead of sandpaper.

Method 3: Use Paint Remover

Paint removers also work well on fiberglass, especially if you need to remove old, peeling paint. It’s a much safer option in terms of chemical toxicity and effortless compared to sanding. If you decide to go this route, consider these easy steps:

  • Use a wire brush to clean the surface thoroughly
  • Apply fiberglass-friendly paint remover onto a sponge
  • Rub the area with the sponge in a circular motion until all the unwanted paint has been removed.

Method 4: Use Cleansers

When you decide to use cleansers, you’ll have to scrape off the paint using a plastic scraper. Do this without applying excess elbow grease, not to hurt the surface of your fiberglass. 

Next, apply a generous amount of Bar Keeper’s Friend cleaner and polish or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, followed by a gentle scrub to remove the paint.

Method 5: Use Paint Thinner

If you want to explore different options for removing paint from fiberglass, here is an inexpensive fiberglass paint remover worth trying. 

With this option, you don’t need much, just paint thinner and lots of water. The steps are even more straightforward and effortless.

  • Start by applying the paint thinner evenly on the surface
  • Let it sit on the paint for half an hour or around 15 minutes
  • Rinse with lots of water
  • Repeat until all paint is gone.

Method 6: Get Creative with Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda is a natural paint remover for fiberglass. 

You can get creative with this home remedy to strip off paint from your fiberglass surfaces by mixing baking soda and hot water into a bowl and allowing it to saturate thoroughly. 

Next, use a clean rag to vigorously rub the surface until it’s clear of paint, then wipe with a clean damp towel or rinse with clean water. 

Which are the Best Paint Removers for Fiberglass?

Not every paint remover can work with fiberglass, so select those specifically formulated for this non-porous material. Below are our top picks to help inform your purchase.

1. Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel

Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel is a user-friendly, safe paint-stripping solution. It can strip as many as five layers of paint or varnish with a single application and stay wet for more than 24 hours. 

It’s available as a 1-quart bottle with a convenient applicator cap for easy application. It also has a glossy finish and is best for professionals and DIYers. Once applied, it takes around 15 minutes to work, after which you can scrape it off with a putty knife.  

What we liked ๐Ÿ‘

  • Ideal for interior and exterior usage
  • Can remove varnishes, shellacs, oil-based paints, and lacquers.
  • Highly biodegradable and non-toxic.

What could change ๐Ÿ‘Ž

  • Nice smell but is very strong, hence ventilation is necessary 

2. Goof Off FG653 Professional Strength Remover

Goof Off is a multipurpose spray paint removal solution. You can use this formula to remove anything, be it adhesive, asphalt, dried or fresh paint, or tar, from any porous or non-porous surfaces.

It has a lovely citrus scent, so you shouldn’t expect any unpleasant odor while working with it. It’s biodegradable and non-flammable, so you’re free from toxic fumes when working with Goof off. 

As a powerful paint stripper, Goof Off can be used on indoor and outdoor projects making it highly reliable.

What we liked ๐Ÿ‘

  • A nice citrus scent
  • Eco-friendly
  • It works on any surface and can remove nearly everything

What could change ๐Ÿ‘Ž

  • Goof-off can be pretty messy and hard to clean

3. Smart Strip Advanced Paint Removerย 

Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover is suitable for larger projects which require the removal of more than ten layers of paint and coatings. It’s so powerful that you can strip at least 15 costs with just a single application.ย 

In addition, this paint removal formula contains no toxic chemicals and is odor free. It’s available in white, comes in a 1-quart container, and can be used on most materials besides fiberglass. 

This product is user-friendly and biodegradable, you can apply it multiple ways. Curing takes 3 to 24 hours but is easy to use and convenient. 

What we liked ๐Ÿ‘

  • Eco-friendly, zero VOCs
  • No strong odor, non-carcinogenic, and non-caustic.
  • 100% biodegradable and pH neutral
  • It is user-friendly and suitable for beginner DIYers

What could change ๐Ÿ‘Ž

  • Not suitable for decades-old wall paint.

Is it Safe to Remove Paint from Fiberglass?

Yes and no. Spray paint contains toxic solvents, and when you need to remove it, you have to use other solutions with equally toxic chemicals. This combination of different solvents is bad for your health and the environment. That calls for extra care and safety precautions. 

In addition, fiberglass is non-porous and, therefore, susceptible to damage from harsh products. If sanding, use suitable sand paper recommended for fiberglass, and don’t sand beyond the paint, as that will render the glass non-absorbent for subsequent painting. 

Avoid using paint stripper and sandpaper simultaneously, only use one method/product at a time. Finally, work with premium quality products for the best results.

FAQs – Removing Spray Paint from Fiberglass

Can you use paint remover on fiberglass?

Yes. It’s one of the effective methods of getting paint off of fiberglass. However, this method is delicate, so you should carefully approach it. Using highly potent solvents can ruin the outlook of your fiberglass material, so you should do your homework before settling on the ideal paint removal product. 

How long does it take to remove paint from fiberglass?

It depends on how large the project is. Removing large patches of paint can take as much as 24 hours or more. But if you want to remove small patches of spray paint overspray from fiberglass, clearing the mess can take a few hours. However, professional paint removal services can do the job in less time. 

What is the best paint remover for fiberglass?

Goof off, Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel, and Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover, are some of the best paint removal solutions. They’re non-carcinogenic and non-caustic, highly powerful, versatile, and user-friendly. You can use them on the surface to remove new paint, dried paint, varnish, lacquer, glue, or adhesive. 

How do you remove spray paint from a fiberglass boat?

You can remove spray paint from a fiberglass boat in different ways. For example, you can use approved paint strippers, vinegar, nail polish remover, baking soda, and paint thinners. For paint strippers, apply the formula on the fiberglass and leave it to cure for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a plastic scraper to scrape off the loose paint. From there, use a sponge and rubbing or mineral spirits and denatured alcohol to remove the residues.

Content Summary

Cleaning fiberglass after a spray painting session can be challenging. A slight mistake can significantly damage the surface, so you need to know what to do and what products to use. In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about getting spray paint from fiberglass. 

Whether you want to remove old chipped spray paint or clean up after a messy paint job, this information will help you do a clean job while keeping your fiberglass intact. Regardless of which method you try, you’ll have effective results that will leave your fiberglass in excellent shape.ย 

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