Tips & How To’s

How to Get Paint off Wood Floors- A Step by Step Guide

Tim Parry


How to get paint off wood floors

Getting wood flooring is one of the best forms of finishing you can have in your house. Having a wood floor finish is not enough if it has paint stains or other forms of stains. When doing finishing or when working on a DIY project in the house, you may end up having droplets of paint where none should be. In such a case, you do not have to worry because we will give you the step-by-step procedure to get paint off wood floors, that way you don't need another trip to the hardwood floor store.

How to Get Water-Based Paint off Wood floors

The best time to remove paint stains off the floor is when the stain is still wet. Once the paint dries off, removing it will be much harder than wiping off wet paint stains. Removing dried paint may sabotage the integrity of the wooden surface. However, you can find the right paint remover for the right situation. It is much harder to remove oil-based paint stains from hardwood floors than to remove water-based paint. Here are some methods to remove oil-based paint from hardwood floors and other types of wooden surfaces or floors.

a) Using Soapy Water

Soap and water will work on water-based paint stain without a doubt. Water-based paint stains are not as notorious as latex paint or oil-based options. Paint spills often go unnoticed, and you have to remove them later. However, you are in luck if the paint splatters are water-based paints. You will need the following items before you can commence the cleaning;

  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Cotton ball

Step 1: Pour some warm water that you prepared into a bucket and add some soap to get warm soapy water.

Step 2: Dip the cotton rug into the warm water before removing paint stains. If the paint is wet, it will come off easily without paint removers, such as a paint thinner.

Step 3: If the paint is wet, it will come off easily without rubbing it. However, if the paint splatter is hard, you will have to let the water sit first before proceeding.

Step 4: If the paint is hard, it will have softened after some time. Scrape off the remaining paint with a plastic putty knife.

Step 5: Wipe off the surface and remove any more stains to leave a clean floor.

b) Using Rubbing Alcohol and Lemon Juice

Rubbing alcohol or lemon juice works great as paint remover options for wood floor. You can use paint thinners and mineral spirits for a paint removal job. However, before you get to that point, try using the lemon juice or rubbing alcohol options using the following steps;

Step 1:  Get a plastic container and mix one part lemon juice with rubbing alcohol. Adjust the ratio depending on the amount of paint on the wooden-floor surface.

Step 2: Dip a dry rag in the mixture you just created. Using a wet rag might interfere with the ratio you used to prepare the solution.

Step 3: Using circular motions or back and forth movements, rub the cloth to remove paint from the wood-floor surface.

Step 4: The stain might be that of hardened paint, and you might have to use more force to remove the paint from the hardwood floor surface. Use a floor-scrub brush to remove all the paint stains from the surface.

Step 5: Wood surfaces may have crevices that are hard to reach, which may have paint stains. Using a brush will help you reach the hidden parts. Use just enough force to remove the stubborn paint layers and not damage the wood surface.

Step 6: Wipe the paint residue using a damp rag.

Step 7: Repeat this process until you get rid of all the paint off the surface of the floor.

c) Sanding

Sanding has to be the last option you use to remove paint splatter off the floor. If you have a painted floor, you might need to go to the nearest local hardware store because you are dealing with a large surface. Otherwise, you do not have to use sanding as a method because you need to protect the surface as much as possible.

You will need these tools for the sanding method;

  • Electric sander
  • Face mask and goggles
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Sand paper
  • Palm sandpaper

Step 1: Seal off the vents to prevent the dust from accumulating in the air-conditioning system.

Step 2: Gear up and wear the recommended protective gear before touching the machine.

Step 3: Assemble the machine correctly. You do not have to buy a sanding machine if you can rent one.

Step 4: Plug in the sander to power the machine and start your process. This sanding process will break down most of the thick layers of the paint stain.

Step 5: Replace the 60 grit with the 80 grit sandpaper. Later, replace the 80 with the 120 as you graduate to thinner sandpaper to remove all the paint.

Step 6: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust accumulated from all the sanding you have done.

Step 7: If the paint stain is still stubborn, remember that it is easier to remove dissolved paint than to remove dried paint.

How to Remove Oil Based Paints from Wood Floors

When removing oil paint from wood floors, you might want to use more careful methods. Unlike water-based paints, oil paints require a paint remover to get rid of the paint stain. In addition, oil paints form stubborn paint stains that may need more strategy to remove than water-based paints. You can use these methods to remove oil-based paint from hardwood floors and other types of wooden floors.

1) Paint Stripper

Using a paint stripper is one of the most efficient methods of removing oil stains from wood-floor surfaces. Ensure you get a specific stripper meant for oil paint. There are safety precautions to be followed when using this method, and you ought to follow them to the latter. You can use these steps to remove the paint from the wood floor;

  • Paintbrush
  • Paint stripper
  • Firm bristled brush
  • Putty knife
  • Rag
  • Safety gear

Step 1: Suit up and wear all the safety gear you need.

Step 2: Ensure the space is well ventilated to avoid getting intoxicated with the fumes.

Step 3: Apply the stripper on the wood floor using a brush. Be generous with your application and let the stripper seep in for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 4: Once the paint/ stain is soft enough, use a paint scraper to remove the paint gently. This method that commercial paint removers use, so you can trust that it will work.

Step 5: Wipe the surface using a damp rag before you let it dry off with a clean surface.

2) Paint Thinner

A paint thinner is one of the best choices you can use on the wood floor. The thinner is not abrasive or harsh to the wood if used correctly. If the paint stain is not too wide, you can count on the paint thinner to remove paint off the wood. You can buy the paint thinner from a local store or online. You will need the following to get the job done;

  • A rag
  • Thinner
  • Gloves
  • Respirator or mask

Step 1: Fully soak the rag in the thinner

Step 2: Rub the wood floor to dissolve the paint stain.

Step 3: Repeat the process and ensure all the paint is removed.

Step 4: Wipe the floor to remove paint residue. Wood floors are very sensitive, and anything that dries on it might look bad.

3) Heat Gun

The heat gun method is mostly used to remove latex paint from wood floors. However, you can use the method to remove oil-based paints from wood floors successfully. Oil will become loose when exposed to heat and may want to melt. You may have to be careful when using this method to avoid fires. You need to have a fire extinguisher close by. Wood floors look good when the surface has a consistent look to it. Therefore, you want to avoid any charring on the wood surface.

You will need the following;

  • Heatproof gloves
  • Face mask
  • Putty knife
  • Heat gun

Step 1: Gear up and ensure you have put on the necessary safety gear.

Step 2: Power the heat gun. If you do not own a heat gun, you can use a hairdryer to heat the paint stain.

Step 3: Hold the putty knife in one hand and the heat gun in the other. You want to heat the paint as you remove it simultaneously.

Step 4: Heat will soften paint stains so that you can scrape them off easily.

Step 5: Ensure the heat is about 8 inches away from the surface of the wood.

How to Remove Dried Latex Paint

All the methods for removing dried oil-based paint stains mentioned above will work for dried latex paint. However, if the old paint stain is proving hard to remove using denatured alcohol, pull scraper or sanding, you can use the steam stripper. You will need the following to get the job done;

  • Latex paint remover
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Protective face mask
  • Steam stripper

Step 1: Plug the steamer into a power source.

Step 2: Hold the steamer about three inches above the stain for about 20 seconds to remove paint from hardwood floors effectively.

Step 3: When bubbles start forming on the surface of the paint stain, use the scraping knife to remove paint from the surface.

Step 4: Do this for all the stains. Carefully dispose of the paint and switch off the steamer when you are done.

Final Take

Before you remove paint from your wooden floor, you have to consider what it will look like after you remove the paint. If removing the stain will make the spot more visible and different from the rest of the floor, you can hold off on removing the paint until you are ready to refurbish the whole floor in the dining and other rooms. You can make major changes when putting in new fittings and redesigning your space. Otherwise, you can never run out of methods to use to remove stains off your wooden floors.

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Tim Parry

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