Whether you want to remove existing paint on some tile work, or you’ve got splatters from a paint job, removing it will be a breeze with the correct equipment. There are several ways to remove paint from tiles, and knowing each step will help you get the job done faster.
This guide will help readers learn the best techniques to remove different paints from various tiled surfaces, so they’ll look as good as new.
It is important to know which type of paint has been used on floor tiles before attempting to remove it. Not all paints will be removed with the same process. For example, the best way to remove latex paints from tile is with a natural cleaner that can be easily made at home. In contrast, a paint stain will need a store-bought paint remover.
If you’re removing splatters or puddles of paint that you’ve used for walls or furnishings, then check the paint tin or aerosol can to identify the paint type and work from there. Once you know the paint you’re dealing with, you can eliminate many methods and use the right one from the get-go.
How To Remove Paint From Tiles (5 Easy Ways)
There are several ways to remove paint from tiles, but they depend on a few factors. Not only should you identify the type of paint that’s being removed, but you should also consider the type of tile you're working on (glazed or unglazed) and if the paint is wet or dry. Here are some tips and tricks to help you with your process.
1. Wipe away wet paint
If you notice a spill or splatter on your tiles during the application process, don’t stress. Removing wet paint is the simplest process; just be sure to have the equipment you need on hand. Keep a clean cloth or rag nearby with a small bowl of lukewarm water. Wipe the paint off with the clean sections of the cloth/rag. Repeat the process until you’re happy. If it’s leaving small pigmented stains, try warmer water with a hint of soap.
2. Scrape it away
For dry paint, the go-to process for many people is to scrape it away. This works well for some tile surfaces, but it can also be damaging and scratch tiles that are glazed. If you are working on a smooth finish tile, then scrape the paint using a straight razor blade or a putty knife at a 45-degree angle. Once it’s complete, wipe away any residue with warm soapy water.
3. Heat it up and scrape it away
Paint on glazed or porous tiles will need to be heated before you begin to scrape it away. By adding heat to the old dry paint, it becomes more pliable. They best way to do this is by investing in a heat gun.
Alternatively, you can use a blow dryer for 3-5 minutes to loosen to paint and then begin to scrape it away at a 45-degree angle. If the top layer of the paint is easier to remove than the base, then keep repeating the process until you get down to the root. We recommend a putty knife or a Xacto knife instead of a razor blade for this process. This process works well for porcelain tiles.
4. Try a natural solution
A natural solution is the best way forward for stubborn paints, particularly on ceramic tiles. Mix 50% white vinegar with 50% warm water, and apply it with a clean cloth or rag. Leave this mix on the paint for up to 10 minutes and clean off the residue in a circular motion. If there’s thick paint drips on the surface, use a putty knife and gently scrape it away.
5. Use a paint remover/stripper
For the most stubborn paint stains, a paint remover/stripper may need to be used. These commercial-strength paint removers emit strong fumes, so it’s important to use these in well-ventilated areas.
You should also wear gloves and appropriate PPE (like a respiratory face mask) to protect yourself. As all paint removers/strippers work differently, we recommend reading the instructions and following them accordingly to get the best outcome.
Removing Paint: Guide For Paint Types
Remove acrylic paint from floor tile
Acrylic paint is water-based, so drips or stains are not impossible to remove. If you get to it quickly, you can wipe it away with a cloth and some lukewarm water. However, acrylic paints are some of the fastest drying paints, so if they dry on tiles like ceramic, you’ll need more than just a cloth to clean the mess.
For dried acrylic paint on ceramic tiles, try spraying a small amount of hairspray and rub it gently with a soft, clean cloth immediately after applying the spray. This helps lift the acrylic paint from the ceramic without needing to scrape the surface. Scraping or hard scratching isn’t the best solution as it can damage the ceramic underneath the acrylic paint.
Please note, commercial paint thinners with turpentine won’t work with acrylic paints. The chemicals are too strong for water-based paint, and there’s a higher chance it will wear away the ceramic surface underneath.
Remove oil paint from floor tiles
Oil paints are often used for painting tiles as the paint adheres well and is more durable than latex paint when used on tile surfaces. This means removing oil-based paints is one of the hardest. You’ll need a paint remover or stripper to remove this paint type, and you’ll also need a few tools to get the job done right.
Once you’ve cleaned the floors of dust or dirt, allow it to air dry, and open all of the windows so it’s well ventilated. Put on your mask, gloves, and glasses, and begin to spray the paint remover onto the oil-based paint.
Allow the paint stripper to stay on the tile for the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time. The oil-based paint will start to lose its adhesion when the stripper is working.
Once it begins to lift, use the putty knife to scrape away the loosened paint. You might need to do this process a few times for all of the paint to be fully removed. Lastly, clean the floor of any paint remover and leave the windows open overnight before you use the room once more.
Remove latex paint from tile floor
Latex paints also consist of a pigment and binder with water, so most of the time, you won’t need strong chemicals to remove this paint. If you’ve used a primer before applying the latex, then the paint will be a lot more stubborn to remove. However, splatters or puddles of latex paints on tiles can be easily removed with a natural solution.
First, apply the 50/50 white vinegar and water solution onto the latex paint and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then, use a putty knife at a 45-degree angle to scrape away unwanted splatters from the tile. While you’re using a putty knife, be careful not to gouge or scratch any glaze from the tile. If the paint has gotten into the grouting, use a scouring pad to scrub it clean. This will save you from having to regrout the area.
If you’ve used latex paint over tiles with a primer, you'll need a stripper to remove the paint. We recommend trying a natural solution first, and if it fails, purchase a paint remover and follow the same process as removing oil-based paints.
Remove gloss paint from tiles
There are many gloss paints created to adhere to tile so painters can cover bathroom or kitchen tiles with ease. These paints can be stubborn to remove as they’re created not to budge by natural solutions. If you’re hoping to remove these glossy, pigmented colors, you’ll need a paint remover to get the job done. The best brand of paint remover for gloss paints has to be Nitro Mors.
You’ll need a tub and a paintbrush for this stripper. Firstly, dip the brush into the remover and gently cover the gloss on the tile. After 8-10 minutes, you’ll see the gloss paint bubbling from the tile. This is the time for you to add a second coating of Nitro Mors. Leave it for up to 40 minutes, and then you’re ready to scrape the paint off with a straight-edge razor blade or putty knife.
Remove spray paint from tiles
Just like any other paint, spray paints are created with different bases. Some are oil-based, and others are water-based. For most spray paints that aren’t oil, you can use a natural solution to remove unwanted sprays. This is a mix of water and white vinegar. We advise following the same instructions as listed above.
If it’s too stubborn for a natural solution, you can use a microfiber cloth with nail polish remover (with acetone) and water. Use 2/3 water with 1/3 nail polish and hold the wet microfiber cleaning cloth against the spray paint to loosen the bond. Once it begins to unbind, clean the spray paint off in a circular motion.
For oil-based spray paints, you may need a paint remover. We recommend a citrus-based paint remover, such as Citristrip, to remove spray paint from the tile. It should be the least damaging formula to glazed or unglazed tiles. This paint stripper is also good for porous tiles like slate.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get dried paint off of porcelain tile?
For porcelain tiles, make a natural solution with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. We recommend boiling the mixture and then applying the solution with a clean cloth. Once you see some bubbling forming, use a small blade or putty knife to scrape the residue clean.
How long do painted tile floors last?
This depends on the paint you use and if the surface is properly prepared. If the tiles are properly sealed with a primer and a good pigmented paint is used, your tiles could last from 5-10 years without a need for recoating. You may want to consider re-sealing the floor every year or two if it's in a high-traffic area.
Can paint thinner remove paint from tiles?
Absolutely! You can use a paint thinner to remove stubborn oil-based paints from tiles. It breaks the bond and makes it a lot easier to scrape the paint clean away.
Will rubbing alcohol remove paint from tiles?
Rubbing alcohol can remove stubborn pigments off of tiles, but only if you’re removing wet paint. If it’s dried pigment, your best bet is a natural solution or a commercial chemical solution.
Keep your home looking beautiful by keeping the paint on the walls, not on your tiles. If you're removing pre-existing paint from tiles, use one of your techniques listed above. It could be all you need to have sparkling clean tiles again without the need for a high-priced professional.