How To Get Spray Paint Off Concrete (DIY Removal Guide)

Spray paint can be a handy tool for DIY projects, but it can also become a problem if you get it in the wrong places. It’s easy to miss the target with spray paint, and it can ruin the look of your home. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to get it off, and hiring a professional can be costly. In this guide, we'll explain how to easily get spray paint off concrete yourself.  

Scrub With Soap and Water 

This is a good method to start with because you won’t need to go out and buy any specialist cleaning equipment. It takes quite a lot of manual effort to scrub, though, so we’d recommend moving on to one of the other techniques if you have a lot of paint to remove.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Scrub Brush 
  • Dish Soap  
  • 2 Buckets 
  • Warm Water  
  • Paper Towels 
  • Protective Gloves And Goggles 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Sweep The Concrete  
    Clean all the visible dirt from on top of the concrete before you start work.  
  • 2
    Fill The Buckets  
    Fill one bucket with warm water and the other with warm water and dish soap. 
  • 3
    Soak The Area  
    Cover the painted area with the warm water. 
  • 4
    Scrub The Paint  
    Dip your scrub brush in the soapy water and use it on the painted area in circular movements. Keep going until you start to see the paint lifting off.  
  • 5
    Rinse And Dry   
    Use paper towels to absorb some of the loose paint, and then rinse with warm water.  
  • 6
    Repeat The Scrubbing  
    Repeat the scrubbing and rinsing until you remove the paint. This may take a few hours and a bit of effort on your part to scrub it down. Scrubbing with soap and water can be effective, but it’s the mildest method for removing spray paint. It will only really work if the paint is fresh, and you may find that it doesn’t fully remove the stain. Still, it’s a good place to start and could save you from having to spend any money at all.  

Use a Power Washer 

Power washers, sometimes known as pressure washers, shoot a single, powerful stream of water. This concentrated stream of water is great for cleaning various surfaces but can also help you strip unwanted paint from concrete. Just be sure to handle with care because they can be difficult to use. 

What you’ll need: 

  • An Electric/Gas Powered Washer 
  • Protective Ground Covers 
  • Safety Goggles 
  • Thick Gloves 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Put On Safety Gear   
    Make sure your eyes and hands are covered and change into some old clothes you don’t mind getting wet.  
  • 2
    Lay Down Covers   
    Lay down the ground covers around the painted area to protect them from the spray.  
  • 3
    Set Up The Washer   
    Set up the power washer using the instructions and apply the nozzle. 
  • 4
    Clean The Paint    
    Stand about 10 feet away and spray the power washer over the painted concrete. Keep going back and forth until the paint has lifted off.  

Power washers are great for removing spray paint from concrete, but they aren’t cheap. If you don’t own one already, then you'll need to go out and buy one, and you'll also need to spend a bit of time getting used to using it. If money is not an object and you've got a large area to clean, then this is probably the best method.  

power washer

Use Paint Thinner or Stripper 

Paint thinner is designed specifically to remove paint from a surface. Paint thinners and strippers are solvents that are made to dissolve substances, in this case, paint. You can't use them on every surface, but concrete is tough enough that it won't become damaged. There are a wide variety of paint thinners and strippers available in hardware stores and online, so it's worth looking for one which is specifically designed to work on spray paint.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Paint Thinner/Stripper  
  • Cloth 
  • Safety Goggles 
  • Thick Gloves 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Clean The Concrete    
    Sweep up any dirt on top of the concrete before starting work because this can interfere with the solvent.   
  • 2
    Apply Paint Thinner/Stripper   
    Make sure you have your protective clothing on and you're in a well-ventilated area. Follow the product instructions and apply the thinner/stripper to the painted area.    
  • 3
    Wipe Clean   
    Use the cloth to wipe the paint thinner/stripper off.   
  • 4
    Repeat As Needed     
    Continue to apply and wipe until the paint is gone.  

Paint thinner is cheap and accessible and works well at removing spray paint from concrete. The only downside is that it can be toxic and flammable, and the vapors can travel into your home. Make sure you do the work in a well-ventilated place and keep all heat sources away from the solvent.  

Use Graffiti Remover 

Graffiti remover was first designed to deal with unwanted spray paint on concrete buildings, so it’s no surprise it’s perfect for this job. It’s made to loosen the grip of the paint on the concrete so it can be wiped away easily. It comes in all forms, but we'd recommend going for an aerosol or liquid solution. 

facade

What you’ll need: 

  • Graffiti Remover (you can pick them up in hardware stores or online)  
  • Scrub Bush  
  • Warm Water  
  • Cloths
  • Goggles 
  • Thick Gloves 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Clean The Concrete     
    Remove any dirt from the top of the concrete so that the graffiti remover can penetrate the paint.     
  • 2
    Apply Graffiti Remover    
    Follow the specific instructions of your product and apply it to the surface of the paint. You’ll usually need to sit and wait for about 20 minutes so it can work.     
  • 3
    Scrub    
    Use your scrub brush in a circular motion on the concrete. The paint should start to lift off now.    
  • 4
    Use The Cloth       
    Wipe down with a cloth to remove some of the paint from the surface.   
  • 5
    Rinse     
    Take the warm water and rinse the surface; most of the paint should come loose.  
  • 6
    Repeat      
    Repeat the process as many times as needed to thoroughly remove the paint.  

Graffiti remover is fairly inexpensive, and you can pick it up easily enough. It works well but can take a while because you have to leave it to work. 

Use A Sandblaster 

Sandblasters are tough pieces of equipment, and it's important you get a bit of training before you use one. They work by firing fine sand onto a surface and eroding the top layer. They're designed to literally strip away layers of concrete, so they'll make light work of paint, but you need to make sure you don't do any lasting damage to the concrete while you’re working.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Sandblaster (at least 50psi for this job) 
  • Sandblasting Sand 
  • Vacuum  
  • Sandblasting Suit And Mask 
  • Thick Gloves 
  • Eye Protection 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Suit Up      
    Put on all your protective gear and make sure that your eyes and face are covered.      
  • 2
    Use The Sandblaster     
    Stand about 3 feet away and direct the sandblaster to the painted area. Move the nozzle back and forth over the area, and you should see layers of concrete become dust. Keep going until the paint is no longer visible.      
  • 3
    Clean The Dust     
    Use your vacuum to clean the dust from the concrete and use a hose to clean it up if you're outside. Your concrete should now be completely paint-free.  

Sandblasting is helpful for large areas of stubborn paint that’s been there for a while, and it should work very quickly. This is definitely only a method for those with a lot of DIY experience and is not suitable for beginners. 

Use TSP 

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a powerful solvent that will work to strip the paint right from the concrete. It's easy to pick up online or from local hardware stores but make sure you follow the instructions and dilute it. This is an effective method that you can use to strip paint from a large area quickly.  

What you’ll need: 

  • TSP (it's available in liquid or powder, but we prefer powder) 
  • Bristle Brush
  • Warm Water  
  • Goggles 
  • Thick Gloves 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Clean The Concrete       
    Brush and clean the concrete to remove any dirt and debris which will impact the TSP from working.      
  • 2
    Apply TSP      
    Put on all your protective gear and dilute the TSP. Dip your brush into the solution and scrub the concrete in concentric circles. For very tough paint, you should leave it to work for 30 minutes and then scrub again.      
  • 3
    Rinse      
    Take the warm water and rinse the painted concrete. Hopefully, the spray paint is starting to lift. 
  • 4
    Repeat As Needed      
    Repeat the process until the spray paint is totally gone.  

TSP is very effective, but the solvent is toxic, so you should only use it in a well-ventilated area. Make sure you check your local codes because it has a severe environmental impact and has been banned in some areas.  

Use An Angle Grinder 

Angle grinders are advanced pieces of DIY equipment that work a bit like a sander. You can attach different wheels to the device and use it on a range of surfaces to file them down. It works well on concrete and can remove the top layer of paint.  

If you’ve never used an angle grinder before, then you should proceed with caution. One wrong move and you could damage the concrete, and you’ll need to be a bit of background training before you try it.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Angle Grinder (with paint stripping wheel) 
  • Vacuum 
  • Protective Goggles 
  • Thick Gloves 
  • Protective Mask 

What To Do: 

  • 1
    Clean The Concrete        
    Brush and clean the top layer of the concrete to remove any dirt which might impact the grinder.        
  • 2
    Use The Angle Grinder      
    Turn on the grinder and lightly press it onto the spray-painted area. Move it in a circular motion around the area, and don't linger too long in one section, or you'll remove too much concrete.        
  • 3
    Vacuum      
    Use the vacuum to remove any dust gathered on the surface and clean with warm water if needed.  

If you have experience with an angle grinder, then you’ll be able to make short work of the spray paint and cover a large area quickly. However, you will need to rent or buy the gear, which can be expensive, and you'll have to be really careful not to damage the concrete.  


Why Is Spray Paint Hard To Get Off Concrete? 

Spray paint is useful because it goes on in layers very quickly, but this also makes it difficult to remove. It’s particularly challenging to remove from concrete because the material is porous and absorbs the paint very deeply. That’s why soap and water won't always be effective, and it's why people often turn to pressure washers or solvents to remove spray paint from concrete sidewalks.  

Epoxy-based spray paint is one of the toughest varieties, and it’s often used on concrete. It’s one of the hardest to remove because it’s waterproof and durable, and it’s not designed to come off easily. This makes removing the spray paint a challenge, and you'll need to use a specialist paint stripper or a powerful sandblaster.  

spray paint

Protecting Concrete While Removing Spray Paint

It's important that you don't damage the concrete while you remove the spray paint, or you could leave your home looking terrible or even cause structural damage. Here are some tips for protecting it while you work: 

Cover Up The Concrete 

While you will need access to the painted area, you don't need to expose all the concrete to the power washer or solvent. Instead, use plastic sheets to cover the unpainted areas to stop unnecessary damage.  

Always Rinse Off Solvent 

If you’re using a paint stripper, TSP, or other solvents, then it's important you don't leave it on for too long, or it can cause lasting damage to the concrete. Always rinse it off after a few minutes with warm water to prevent this from happening. 

Start With Gentle Methods 

Always start with gentle methods first to see if they’ll work. Soap and water can remove some spray paint, and if it does work, then you won’t need to use any harsh solvents or power sanders that can damage the concrete.  


Common Questions 

Does vinegar remove paint from concrete? 

Yes, the acidic nature of vinegar can remove paint from concrete, but it won’t be as effective as other specialist solvents and paint removers.  


Will acetone remove paint from concrete? 

Yes, acetone is a very potent solvent and it will be able to remove paint from concrete.  


What's the best paint stripper for concrete? 

There are many effective paint strippers on the market, but we’ve found that the Confined Space 3202 Paint Strip Gel works particularly well on spray-painted concrete.  


What should you do if graffiti is common on your sidewalk? 

The faster you can remove graffiti, the less likely it is that others will add to it and make it harder to clean. Look to remove it quickly using one of the methods above and report it to the local authorities.  


Conclusion

It can be a real challenge to remove spray paint from concrete without damaging the surface, but it can be done. Always remember that safety comes first, and you should handle paint strippers and other solvents carefully. Hopefully, this guide has introduced you to a variety of effective methods that you feel comfortable trying, and you now know how to get spray paint off concrete.   


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