I am trying to remove the paint off of my front bumper, and just leave it the matte black plastic color that it was originally before painting.

I have already tried with minimal success using paint strippers, and had wanted to know if I purchase a orbital sander, whether I would be able to sand the paint down to the plastic? If this is the case what grit(s) sandpaper would be recommended?

I do not intend to paint over the bumper again, maybe just use trim restorer.


  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! You probably don't want to use an orbital, but a dual action sander. I'm not sure on the grit, but if you want the surface to look 1/2 way decent, I'd go with 220 or higher. Lower than that is going to leave a lot of cuts in the plastic. Jun 5, 2018 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


Interesting question, since you want to remove the paint but instead of repainting, you want to leave the matte black plastic exposed.

First, I'd definitely recommend getting a dual action sander and some P180/P240 sanding discs, and sanding the entire bumper.

If you stop there, however, you'd have visible sanding marks. So after the initial P180/P240 sand, I'd do another pass with P320 grit, and then another pass with P400 grit, and then another pass with an even higher grit, say P600 or P800.

This should give you a nice smooth matte black finish on the exposed plastic bumper.

  • Follow up: Thank you for the great tips! I ended up purchasing a cordless mouse sander and have successfully stripped nearly all the paint. I am having some difficulty getting rid of the paint in harder to reach spots such as protruding plastic around the number plate area, given the angle is difficult to get to by hand. Would a small wire brush be my best bet in this situation? Oct 7, 2018 at 19:57
  • In tight spots like that I'd get some sanding blocks or even small blocks of wood, wrap the sandpaper around the block and use the edges to get in there
    – WeakMech
    Oct 7, 2018 at 22:10

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