How To Remove Paint From Wood Floors (6 Easy Ways)

Whether you have accidentally spilled some paint on your hardwood 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 the stain is even paint? This article will discuss how to recognize and distinguish what type of paint is on the hardwood floors and 6 easy steps to remove it!

First things first, how to distinguish between the possible types of paint that could be on the floor. The type of material you are removing 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. If not, you are most likely dealing with oil-based paint, which will be a bit trickier to remove.

hardwood floor

What Can Be Used to Remove Paint from Hardwood Floors

Once you have determined what type of paint you are removing from the hardwood floors, it is time to decide how you will tackle the removal process. Materials and tools will be different based on what type of paint 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 paint is dry or wet. It is always easier to remove paint from hardwood floors when it is wet. Below we will discuss some tips and tools that should help you remove the paint from your hardwood floors without damaging the floors themselves.

1. Rubbing alcohol

Alcohol and a rag are an easy method to remove paint by rubbing the alcohol onto the paint, letting it soak in, and wiping it away. This may take a few applications to remove the paint. This works for water or oil-based paints.

2. Soap (cleaning detergent) and water

Soap and water is an excellent method for cleaning water-based paint from hardwood 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 paint and making it easier to wipe off the floors with a rag.

4. Commercial paint remover

Once you start using chemicals to clean paint from floors, you need to be very careful that you are only removing the paint and not the floor’s finish. When done successfully, the chemicals should dissolve the paint and allow you to easily remove it with a rag.

5. Paint thinner

Paint thinner will do exactly what it sounds like when it comes to paint on your hardwood floors. The thinner will soak into the paint similarly to the alcohol and allow you to remove the paint without fail. This will work on oil or water-based paint.

6. Cleansing pads

This method is for oil-based paint on hardwood floors before the paint has dried. These 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 hardwood floors.

Painted Hardwood Floor

Prepare Yourself & Your Floor Before Removing Paint

Removing paint from hardwood floors can be a dirty job. Whenever you are using chemicals, thinners, or detergents, it is essential to wear protective gloves and safety glasses at a minimum.

You never want the task of removing paint from hardwood floors 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 detergent 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.

Tools:

  • 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 hardwood floors.
  • 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 knife
    When removing a dried paint splatter, a dull 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. The 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 thinner 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 pads are designed for removing wet paint from the floors and are better in an emergency spill situation than for removing dried paint.

How to Remove Paints from Wood Floors

Removing Dried Paints

  • How to get dried paint off hardwood floors
    Try chipping the dried paint away from the floor’s surface with a dull knife. Be careful not to damage the floor’s surface.
  • How 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
    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
    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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove glue on hardwood floors?

Glue is very hard to remove from anything. For hardwood floors, the first thing you should try is chipping it off with a putty knife. Be careful not to damage the wood finish. If chipping does not work, try a heat gun but only enough to gel the glue. Once the glue is tacky, try to use your putty knife to peel the glue up. The goal will be to get the glue up without it soaking into the wood.


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. A small spill could take a professional a couple of hours to clean, while a floor covered in dried paint could take days to remove. Removing small paint splatters or wet paint on your own could cost as little as a few paper towels and some soapy water.


Does acetone remove paint?

Acetone does remove paint. However, it is too harsh of a chemical to use on hardwood floors. 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. Acetone would be more appropriate for a metal surface.


Which is cheaper, refinishing or replacing hardwood floors?

Depending on the floor area, it may be less expensive to replace the hardwood floors rather than refinishing them. If the floors are stained and in good shape, refinishing may be less expensive, but you will have to remove all furniture and tape off the room using a painters tape. I would only advise refinishing if you had a large area to work with.


Does vinegar remove paint from wood?

Vinegar is an excellent alternative for removing paint from wood without harmful chemicals. Letting vinegar soak into the paint and stripping it off with a putty knife is an effective way to remove dry, acrylic, or water-based paint. The downside to vinegar is the smell, which lasts quite a long time after the project is complete.


Conclusion

Now that we have discussed the options for removing paint 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.


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