How To Remove Paint From Wood Floors (6 Methods Explained)

Whether you have accidentally spilled some lemon juice or spilled paint on your wood floors, or maybe the floors have been painted by the previous homeowner, the day has come when you need to finally remove it.

Where do you start? How do you even know how to remove paint stains from the wood surface?

This article will discuss how to recognize and distinguish what type of paint stain is on wood floors and the 6 easy steps to remove it!

Once you have determined what type of paint stain you are removing from the wood floors, it is time to decide how you will tackle the removal process.

Materials and tools will be different based on what type of oil based paint stain you are removing, but it will not hurt to have all tools readily available.

The ease of removal will also depend on whether or not the old paint is dry or wet. It is always easier to remove oil-based paint from the wood floors when it is wet.

Below we will discuss some tips and tools that should help you remove stubborn paint stains or remove oil based paint from your wood floors without damaging the floors themselves.

1. Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol and a damp rag is the best paint stain remover and an easy method to remove oil based paints stain by gently scrape the alcohol onto the fresh paint, letting it soak in, and wiping it away. This damp paper towel may take a few applications to remove as much paint. This gently scrape will work for water or oil-based paints just with a few drops.

2. Soap (cleaning detergent) and water

Soap and water is an excellent method for cleaning water-based paint stains from the wood floors without damaging the floor’s finish. Using warm water will give you better results with this method.

3. Heat gun

The heat gun method for removing paint is a bit more intense than our previous methods. You need to be careful not to overheat the floor’s finish, which would cause damage. This method is very useful for melting the fresh paint layers and making it easier to wipe off the hardwood flooring with a rag.

4. Commercial paint remover

Commercial paint removers, once they start using chemicals to clean paint stains from wood floor, they need to be very careful that they are only removing the fresh paint stain and not the floor’s finish. When done successfully, the chemicals should dissolve the paint's fresh coat and allow them to be easily removed with a rag.

5. Paint thinner

Paint thinner will do exactly what it sounds like nail polish remover when it comes to removing paint stains on your wood floor. The thinner paint remover will soak into the paint similar to the alcohol and allow you to remove the paint without fail. This will work well to remove oil-based paint.

6. Cleansing pads

This method is for oil based paints on wood floor before the paint has dried. These cleansing pads as paint removers will not work on removing hardened paint, so keep these on hand during your next project, just in case you spill some paint on your wood floor.

Fading Multi-Color Painted Hardwood Floor

Preparation Before Removing Paint

Removing all the paint from stained wood floor can be a dirty job. Whenever you are using chemicals,  natural paint remover, paint thinner, paint strippers, or detergents, it is essential to wear protective gloves and safety glasses at a minimum.

You never want the task of removing paint from wood floor or stained wood floor to escalate into a health hazard. Make sure you have access to clean water so that you can rinse off your skin or eyes in the event of an accident.

If you get any of the chemicals or detergents like paint stripper on your skin, be sure to quickly rinse them off to prevent an adverse reaction or chemical burns. Tools you will need to have on hand along with that clean water are as follows.

  • Paper towel
    Not only to apply cleaning material but to clean tools and hands of waste material.
  • Clean rags
    Rags will be your most used tool when it comes to wiping away the dissolving paint from the surface of the wood floor.
  • Dish wash soap
    Soap is the easiest method of removing wet or dry paint from hardwood floors. It is light enough detergent to break down the water-based paint without harming the floor’s finish.
  • Water
    We discussed the importance of water for rinsing eyes and skin, but it is also for diluting the soap and paint for easy removal.
  • Denatured alcohol
    When alcohol is applied to the paint, it soaks in, softening the paint for easy removal.
  • Dull Putty knife
    When removing a dried paint splatter, a dull plastic putty knife may be used to lightly chip away the paint. Just be sure not to use a sharpened edge that may hurt the wood underneath.
  • Scrub brush
    One of the most effective tools for removing paint, is a scrub brush combined with dish soap can break down water-based paints easily. This paint remover's bristles are abrasive, though, so be careful not to over-scrub and damage the wood's finish.
  • Paint thinner
    Similar to the denatured alcohol, paint thinners can be mopped on the paint, allowed to penetrate, and wiped away with a rag. This may take a few applications to dissolve oil-based paints.
  • Cleansing pads
    These cleansing pads are designed for removing wet paint from the floors and are better in an emergency spill situation than for removing dried paint.

Remove Paints from Wood Floors (Wet & Dry)

Getting Rid Of Dried Paints

  • How to get dried paint off hardwood floors
    To get dried paint off stained wood floors try chipping the dried paint away from the floor’s surface with a dull putty knife. Be careful not to damage the floor’s surface.
  • How to remove dried water-based paints from hardwood
    To remove dried water-based paints from hardwood apply warm water to the paint with a clean rag. Then apply soap to the rag and lightly scrub the paint away. Dry area when the paint has been removed successfully.
  • How to remove dried latex paint from hardwood
    To remove dried latex paint from hardwood wet the area with warm water and apply soap. Scrub lightly with a brush, wipe away paint, rinse with water, dry the area with a rag.
  • How to remove dried oil-based paints from hardwood
    To remove dried oil-based paints from hardwood you must first, dampen the paint with a rag soaked in denatured alcohol or paint thinner. Let the liquid soak into the paint. Lightly scrub off the unwanted paint with a brush or rag. Thoroughly clean the area afterward to prevent leftover cleaner residue from harming the floor’s finish.
  • How to remove paint without sanding
    Sanding paint from a floor should not be necessary. Sanding paper or disks would only become caked with melted paint. The dust from this process could be dangerous to breathe and so you should always use a dust collector. This method could also harm the surface of the floor permanently. Sanding should be stained floors only.

Removing Wet Paint / Paint Spills / Splatters

  • Removing wet water-based paints
    Removing wet, water-based paint is easy. Wipe the paint up with a rag and then use warm soapy water with a paper towel or rag to remove any remaining residue.
  • Removing wet latex paints
    Wet latex paint comes clean by wiping the paint off with a warm water-soaked rag. Use warm soapy water and a rag to clean off any extra that may have been left behind.
  • Removing wet oil-based paints
    Oil-based paint is a little more difficult to remove, but when it is wet, use a cleansing pad to wipe up the splatter. Clean off any leftover with paint thinner on a rag.
  • How to get paint splatters off wood
    With splatters, the main thing to worry about is spreading them. Use a cleansing pad or rag soaked in warm water to wipe up splatter. Use pressure and drag the rag across the splatter; lift abruptly as not to spread the paint.
  • Remove paint overspray
    Overspray is the most difficult to remove because it dries so quickly. Mop over the overspray spect with a paint thinner soaked rag. Let the thinner soak in and finally, scrub up the overspray with the thinner soaked rag. This may take multiple applications.

Paint Types Commonly Used On Hardwood Floors

First things first, how to distinguish between the possible types of paint that could be on the wooden surfaces?

The type of material you are using for removing paint is the most critical factor in deciding what product and method will be best to remove it.

There is one quick and easy method to determine whether the paint is water-based or oil-based. Grab a cotton ball, wet it with rubbing alcohol, and rub the cotton ball over the paint.

If the paint shows up on the cotton ball, you will know you are dealing with water based paint stain. 

If not, you are most likely dealing with oil-based paint, which will be a bit trickier to remove.

Painted Hardwood Floor

Questions On Removing Paint On Floors

How do you remove glue on hardwood floors?

To remove glue on hardwood floors, you must first try chipping it off with a putty knife, as it is tough to remove from anything. If chipping does not work, try a heat gun but only enough to gel the glue.

How much does it cost to remove paint on hardwood floors?

Hardwood floor paint removal could cost between $300- $10,000 depending on the size of the floor covered in paint. 

Does acetone remove paint?

Yes, Acetone is the best paint removal. Using acetone would not only remove the paint from your floors but would also eat into the hardwood itself and surely ruin the floor’s finish. 

Which is cheaper, refinishing or replacing hardwood floors?

Replacing hardwood floors is less expensive than refinishing them, depending on the floor area. I would only advise refinishing if you had a large area to work with.

Does vinegar remove paint from wood?

Vinegar is the best paint removal that can be used to remove paint splatters from wood as it is an excellent alternative for removing paint from wood without harmful chemicals.


Now that we have discussed the options for removing stubborn paint stains from hardwood floors, which method is best for you?

Well, that will depend on the situation. No matter what paint you are removing, a running theme is a wet paint is easier to remove, and using a putty knife should be the first method to try on removing dry paint.

Be sure to consult this guide the next time you find yourself in need of eliminating pesky paint from your beautiful hardwood floors.