Homeowners for decades have fallen for the "one-tool-does-it-all" claims from manufacturers for removing exterior paint. I hate to say it, but one tool will not do it all. To sufficiently remove exterior paint in preparation for a new coat, you need a set of tools. Here are manual tools that I like. This list excludes chemical treatments; I have never had good luck with chemical paint strippers.
01 of 06
Ever wanted to buy a DeWalt cordless drill or reciprocating saw but found them too expensive? This heat gun is about the cheapest DeWalt tool you can buy (at around $69, February 2012). No, a heat gun will not miraculously cause all of the paint to fall away. Instead, consider it a supplement to scraping. Much safer than the traditional butane torch, a heat gun has no open flame: it's more like a super-hot hair dryer. It's possible to start a fire with a heat gun, but far less chance... than if you used a torch.
02 of 06
Thorough and fast, but you do run the distinct risk of gouging your siding when snapping a scraper onto an oscillating tool. Oscillating multi-tools are great in areas where there will be no close-up examination of the surface.
03 of 06
A putty knife was clearly not intended for removing paint. Yet I find that it's good to have on hand. I have a spare putty knife that I have sharpened at the end--not to a knife edge, by any means, but enough to get rid of the dullness. The chief advantage of a putty knife is that it bends, allowing you to scrape the paint at a lower angle.
04 of 06
An 8-in-1 tool is a pretty standard painter's tool. It opens cans, cleans paint rollers, and pulls nails not very well. But what it does do very well is scrape paint and clean out cracks. Like the putty knife, this is one that I occasionally grind down to a sharper edge.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
A utility knife is not used for scraping of flat surfaces. It just doesn't have the shape and angle for that. Instead, use it for pulling up loose chips of paint or scoring paint along the edges of items that need to be removed, such as telephone boxes, cords, window casing, etc.
06 of 06
A wire brush is strictly for the last stage of removing paint. Don't expect to scrape at stuck-on paint with a wire brush and have it come off. But a wire brush is great for sloughing away those remaining chips of paint, after you have already used a paint scraper.