Nitromors (The review they didn’t want you to read)

Nitromors Paint and Varnish Remover is one of the most famous brands in the decorating industry. It has been around since the 1930’s and has been used to  remove many paints, varnishes and other coatings. In 2009 the EU introduced legislation banning methylene chloride, a solvent that Nitromors had used in their formulation.

You may have a view on that particular ban and even on the EU but the ban on many solvents and the removal of lead from paint has undoubtedly had a beneficial effect on the health of painters and decorators across Europe and I welcome it.

The challenge for Nitromors was to reformulate their magic liquid in a way that kept Brussels happy and just as importantly, did the job for the painter and decorator. By all accounts it was not a straight line from A to B. Nitromors launched a viable product which,  if left to act,  did the job eventually but the feedback from the trade was that they wanted a bit more of a show to indicate the product was working.  In effect they wanted to see the kind of  blistering and bubbling that was evident with the old product. So it was back to the test tube in the Henkel labs.

In this new formulation there is a faster blistering of the first layer of paint but it is not a deep-searching product. You need to apply it with a stippling action and leave it to blister for 5 to 10 minutes and then, once you see evidence of some actionall over the surface you then have to stipple the Nitromors sitting on top of the blistered paint back down onto the paint layers below. It won’t do it without help. This is the fundamental difference between the old and new formulations.

I have a long term paint and varnish stripping project that I attack in stages so I was in a good position to test both the Nitromors All Purpose and their Nitromors Craftsman’s products.

The varnish I was removing is that thick dark brown wood effect coating that was popular around 60 years ago. If you try painting over it, in time the paint just flakes off. So removing this troublesome surface has been an ongoing job that I have to psyche myself up for. That said it has given me the ideal place to test sanders, hot air guns and chemical strippers.

Of course one of the great advantages of chemical striping is that you don’t have to vaporise lead based paint, or other hazardous material, and you don’t create dangerous lead based dust. If you catch the Nitromors and paint in newspaper you can then wrap it up and dispose of it in an environmentally responsible manner. The whole process is a lot less intrusive than burning or sanding but should be done with the windows and doors open to provide good ventilation. Even better, if you can take doors off and apply Nitromors in the open air.

However Nitromors is a non-drip gel consistency and can therefore be used on indoor vertical surfaces such as doors, stair spindles, and window frames etc. In addition it is coloured green and this enables you to easily see where it’s been applied.

The new Nitromors formulation worked surprisingly well on the varnish but on other surfaces not as well as the pre-legislation product. If you follow the pack instructions you should get reasonable results but with all multi-layer paint stripping jobs you are working, like Time Team, down through layers of history and you never know what you are going to get. Some coats yield easily and some put up more of a fight. We now have the added complication that it is likely that some of those coats may be water based. So you will inevitably get variable result in terms of time  and effort needed to strip any given surface.  If you are a professional decorator my advise is to try to do stripping on day rate rather than a price or, if you have to give a price, make it a good one.

I have reported my findings on this product as honestly as I can but I was surprised the lengths the manufacturers have employed to try and have my copy altered to reflect their own view, which is that this product is a perfect replacement for the old formulation. It indicates a degree of nervousness on their part, and you can read into that what you will.


About Roger Bisby

Roger Bisby
Roger Bisby is an English television presenter and journalist, known for his expertise in the British building industry.


  1. Hi Roger, been following your YouTube channel for a while as I’m learning a whole load of new skills to make my own home out of a 180 year old building that was used as an office for decades…

    I stupidly bought a tin of Nitromors after a local bloke recommending it. It seems to work – but not without a whole load of hard scraping, re-application, and general effort. I was hoping to apply the stuff and see the paint come off within minutes. Maybe that was a silly expectation, either way Nitromors seems to be awful!

    Thanks for posting this review. I’m currently trying out Rustin’s Strypit. Didn’t look on the tin to see what the active ingredient is. Seems a little bit better, but still not hugely fast acting and I can’t see any bubbling…

  2. I thought this stuff would work but unfortunately it didn’t. It only left my door in a mess. I now have to find something else to remove the varnish! It was a complete waste of 15 pounds and elbow grease.

  3. The fact that Regulation requires changes has to be accepted – the issue for me is that the product name has set a n expectation of performance and the new formula does not Perform as well as we have have come to expect.
    So why continue to call it Nitromors ?
    This at least is a misrepsentation and should be challenged.
    Paramose remains available for industrial use – it does the job that Nitromors used to.


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  5. Not happy!!! I spent £11.00 on Nitromors. It used to be a brilliant product, bubbling almost immediately.

    Well this time it did nothing at all! I applied one coat, nothing so wiped off and tried again. Using two thicker coats left on for the allotted time again nothing! I might as well have thrown my money down the drain.

  6. Dont waste one single penny on a can of Nitromors or any of the others , instead nip along to your nearest Auto Paint supplier and buy a can of Synstrip paint stripper, its even better than the old Nitromors by a long way and it appears that all this tinkering with formulations is only for the amateur market .Synstrip whips off even old lead based paint in seconds and you really have to see what it does with modern synthetics ….ps It hurts like hell if you get it on your skin !

  7. Dichloro methane or methyl chloride was banned for use in paint strippers in the UK and EU in 2009 hence the formulation changes. The old Nitromors was an excellent stripper of most coatings, the problems we have today are that we are dealing with many more generic paint types with different reaction behaviours and therefore needing different bullets to remove them, 2 pack materials and some of the water based materials are proving particularly problematic and require specific strippers to remove them. The new Nitromors is just one of a range of materials designed to remove old paint but should not be considered as a total solution, you should check that the substrate you have got is going to be removed by the stripper you have, a bit of online ‘research’ should help. not many strippers will touch two pack polyurethanes and epoxies! If you need to blame anyone, have a go at the legislation for removing powerful tools and the paint manufacturers for developing and making more robust coatings!!

    • Roger Bisby

      I don’t understand your comment. I am in favour of getting rid of methyl chloride and have no wish to go back but when I suggested that the new formulation was not as good at removing paint as the old Nitromors it was met with resistance and hostility from the people at Henkel. I stand by that comment notwithstanding the new paints.

      • the new nitramorse is not a touch on the old stuff and further more i have had to use a full can just to remove a small amount of paint ,but now i have a further problem ,i cannot get any gloss to stick where i used it ( undercoat went on fine ) but not the gloss and i will be fkd if i am forking out another 11 quid on the nitramorse remover remover , any ideas would be helpful

        • Roger Bisby


          All I can think of is the hot air gun. Strange that the gloss wouldn’t stick. Contamination bleeding through. Maybe a job for Zinsser. That sticks to most things.

  8. Started stripping a bike frame with ‘old’ Nitromors , with not a lot left in the can ( perhaps 7 years old) , and was working great . Then started on the ‘new’ can ……… guess what ? It didn’t touch the paint ! Wasted my £9 , and now going to buy some proper paint stripper .
    Don’t labour under the misapprehension that this new product is actually Nitromors ………. should be under the trade description act.
    I am furious , over my wasted time and money …..roll on Brexit , to get away from these idiot bureaucrats ……… nothing works as it used to …… they ruined Dulux Weathershield Primer as well .

  9. Our very elderly house in France ( C15th) has lots of very old paint on masonry and wood. Nitromors is a waste of time but Peelaway works very well,taking several layers at a time off any surface. Our 500 year old fire places are now back to the original stone colour and the lead and other types of paint have all gone- thanks to Peelaway. It’s well worth trying with minimal fumes etc.

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