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.


  4. I have noticed you don’t monetize your site,
    don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra cash every month because you’ve got hi quality content.
    If you want to know how to make extra bucks, search for: best adsense alternative Wrastain’s tools

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *