6 Ways To Remove Paint From Wood Floors

Kenneth Wilson

Are you planning to get rid of stubborn paint stains on your hardwood floors? Don't worry– we've got you covered.

It's essential to do whatever it takes to maintain hardwood's natural beauty and luster. Tiny paint drops may leave visible marks on the floor, affecting its visual appeal and value.

In this article, let's discuss the standard methods you can follow to remove paint stains from your wood floors. Who knows, it may save you the costs of hiring a specialist to do it for you!

Area Preparation

Before anything else, you will need to prepare the floor surface accordingly. Ensure the area is free from dirt, dust, and grit.

Before choosing a particular paint removal method, it's also essential to check if the paint stains are either oil or water-based.

Note: Oil-based paint will be harder to remove than acrylic. Some of the solvents you need may potentially damage your hardwood floor's finish in the process.

Ideally, it’s best to try other methods to remove paint from the wood before using harsh, commercial chemicals.

6 Methods in Removing Paint From Wood Floors

Method #1: Scrape Off Hardened Paint

Scraping off hardened water-based paint involves using a putty knife and some restraint. The key is to remove the hardened paint without damaging the wood floor surface.

In some cases, you may use a hammer to tap the putty knife to remove hard paint spots gently.

When dealing with dried oil-based paints, you may warm the spot with a hairdryer for no more than 20 seconds. The use of heat guns is strongly discouraged. These may only damage your hardwood floor's finish.

Method #2: Use of Mild Detergent

Mix a drop of dishwashing soap to a damp paper and wipe the stain well using a paper towel.

Give it a thorough rubbing for a few minutes before wiping out the stain with a dry rag. Doing so makes the paint stain easier to remove as the soapy water technically softens it.

Consider using a blunt knife to scratch the paint layer away gently.

Method #3: Use Commercial Paint Removers

Think of this method as a quick and easy way to remove stubborn dried paint off your wooden floors. Visit your local home improvement store to buy a paint remover and apply it to the dried paint.

You may need to let it soak for a couple of minutes for the solution to break down the paint effectively.

Method #4: Use Denatured Alcohol

If you’re dealing with old gloss paint on your hardwood floors, you may use alcohol to remove it. Wipe the stain with water mixed with denatured alcohol– and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Once the paint absorbs enough alcohol and starts to break up, it will be easier to remove.

Method #5: Use an Alcohol-Based Cleansing Pad

Alcohol-based cleansing pads are readily accessible and convenient to use. You may scrub it over the paint stain and once it dries out, use a new cleansing pad to erase the paint from your wood floors.

Method #6: Use a Paint Thinner

Paint thinners should be your last resort in removing paint stains from your hardwood floors. When using a thinner on your floors, always work with caution as it may only damage or remove the finish.

If you're working indoors– ensure that the area will have proper ventilation at the very least.

Removing Paint on Your Wood Floors By Type

If you know the particular paint type you have on your wooden floors, here are some methods to try out at home.

How to Remove Latex Paint Stains

  • Non-toxic method: Scraping the dried paint off, use of spirits (one part lemon juice and two parts rubbing alcohol), using a nylon scrub brush
  • Chemical Method: Use a chemical cleaning agent and a denatured alcohol

How to Remove Spray Paint

  • Non-toxic method: Use a blade tool to scrape the spray paint (or a nylon scrub brush)
  • Chemical Method: Use commercial paint removers such as Goo Gone, Goof-Off, and OOPS. Alternative solutions include denatured alcohol or olive oil (to permeate the stubborn stain).

How to Remove Dried Paint

  • Non-toxic method: Use an all-natural boiled linseed oil.
  • You may also use a heat gun or steamer to separate the dried paint from the wooden floor’s surface.
  • In some cases, you may need to use brute force to remove difficult dried paint. Use a hammer to apply pressure to your scraper.

Pro Tip: Always be cautious when working with a heat gun to remove paint marks on your floors. If you’re not careful enough, it may leave visible scorch marks on the surface.

Not to mention, it may unwittingly start a fire. Ensure the heat gun will never come in direct contact with your floors.

How to Remove Paint from Laminate Wood Floors

  • Non-toxic method: Use a simple soap and water solution. Since laminate flooring is designed with a protective coating against deep stains, you can use a soapy water solution to get rid of dried paint.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to lift any set-in dirt or debris from the floor’s surface.
  • You may also try applying an acetone-based cleaner over the paint stain. This may treat the area accordingly to eliminate any stains.

Commercial Paint Removal Products

Though non-toxic cleaning solutions are gentle and less damaging to the floors, you may be left with no choice but to use chemical-based paint removal products in some cases.

For your reference, here’s a list of the most common paint removal agents in the market today.

  • Oxalic Acid: This is commonly used to remove rust and other stain marks. Oxalic acid works wonders, but it’s better to consider it as one of your last resorts, since it can be rather corrosive and toxic.
  • Goo Gone: Goo Gone is a famous commercial cleaning agent. It has a latex paint remover, which can be a life-saver if you’re dealing with latex paint stains on your wooden floors.
  • Goof Off: This is another famous commercial-strength cleaning product. Goof Off is known to easily and quickly remove spray paint, latex paint, and other common stains.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Some contractors recommend applying hand sanitizer to remove paint splatter on wood floors. Given that this product has high alcohol content, it can effectively break up the pain for easier removal. Additionally, it's also less likely to damage the floor's surface.

Expert Tips and Advice in Removing Paint from Wood Floors

  • Make Sure to Wipe Paint Before it Sets: To avoid dealing with the hassle of removing paint stains on your wooden floors, wipe any splatter dry before it sets. Keep this in mind during your next painting project. Always use a clean rag to remove wet paint splatter (which is relatively easier than removing hard paint). You'd want to avoid smearing the paint further across the floor.
  • Try Household Solutions First: Try out household solutions first before buying commercial paint removal agents from your local hardware store. You can use butter knives or old credit cards as a makeshift paint scraper. If you don't have a nonabrasive scrub brush, find an old toothbrush and use it as an alternative.
  • Clean the Area Before and After: Remember that any dirt and grit may scuff your wood floors' surface. If you try a method with intensive scrubbing motions, ensure that there's no build-up left on the floor's surface afterward.
  • Identify the Type of Paint Stain: To find the right paint removal method for your situation, it’s best to identify the paint stain on your wood floors. If you’re having trouble doing so, consult a local specialist to determine whether the paint is latex or oil-based.
  • Use Paint Thinner as your Last Resort: We get it. It's tempting to use a paint thinner as it quickly removes any stain on your floors. However, using paint thinner without any caution may only leave irreversible damage to your wood floorboards. It may also become a potential hazard– so don’t forget to use it with precaution.

Final Thoughts

Fortunately, stubborn paint splatters on your wood floors do not last forever. Regardless of whether you’re dealing with latex paint stains or spray paint, there are different methods you can try to remove them from your wooden floors. (Related: Step By Step: How To White Wash Wood Floors)

Kenneth Wilson
January 5, 2022
Contractor Tips, Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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