I’ve been there.
You’re ready to paint the living room but don’t want to mess with your hardwood floors. It can be tough to get paint off hardwood without damaging the finish- it’s happened to me more than once!
I thought I’d share these tips on how to get paint off hardwood flooring without damaging the finish that will work for any wood.
How to Get Paint off Hardwood Floors
Add a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent to a cup of warm water. Blot the paint-stained area to get the excess paint off—work from the outside of the paint stain in. After removing the paint off your hardwood floor, allow it dry and vacuum the surface. For dried paints, use a plastic scraper to remove the paint.
At least, that’s the short version!
If you’re not in a rush, there’s plenty of more detail worth noting. Read on for the full guide, as some of these methods will require taking extra safety precautions.
Let’s dive right in;
How to Tell the Type of Paint on your Hardwood Floor
Knowing what type of paint is on your floors is crucial so you can use the correct method to remove the paint stains.
Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub it on a small patch of the painted floor. It is either latex or water-based paint stains if the paint comes off. If none of it comes off, then your wooden floor paint is oil-based.
How to Remove Water-based Paint from Wood
Use any of the methods below to remove water-based paint stain marks.
1. Using Soap and Water
The fact that this paint is water-based automatically means you can use water to remove it. This is because water acts as paint thinner for this type of paint.
Materials You Will Need
- Dishwashing soap or a laundry detergent
- Warm water
- Cotton rags
Steps on how to get paint off wood floors
- Step 1: Put some warm water in a bucket. Add in a bit of dishwashing soap and mix with your hand to get a warm soapy solution.
- Step 2: Dip your cotton rag in the water, wring out the excess solution and rub it over the water-based paint on the wood floor. If the paint was wet, it should come off as you rub it. Otherwise, you can rub a wet rag over it and let it soak for a few minutes.
- Step 3: Dip the cotton rag in warm soapy water and wring it. Then, use the damp cotton to wipe away the paint. The paint should all come off. If it does not, repeat the process until all the paint has come off.
- Step 4: Wipe with a dry rag to remove any paint spills and excess moisture from the wood floor surface.
2. How to get paint out of hardwood floors Using Rubbing Alcohol and Lemon Juice
This mixture is easy to create, and it’s effective at removing water-based paint from wood floors.
Mix one part of lemon juice with three parts of rubbing alcohol in a container. Use this ratio to adjust and mix the ingredients depending on the size of your painted floor.
- Step 1: Dip the cotton rag in the mixture you just made. Rub the painted wood floor with the saturated rag and let it soak for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the paint to loosen.
- Step 2: Rub the paint off using the same rag you used to apply the mixture in circular motions, back and forth, to remove the paint. If there is stubborn paint, use a floor scrub brush to get it out from hard to reach crevices.
- Step 3: Wipe the wood with a damp rag to remove the paint
- Step 4: Repeat the process until you have removed all the water-based paint.
Sanding can get rid of any paint regardless of age, and the number of layers applied. That means you can remove water-based paint by sanding. This is especially effective for removing paint from wood floors.
- Handheld electric sander
- Sandpapers (60, 80, and 120-grit)
- Palm sandpaper
- Face mask and goggle
- Vacuum cleaner
Start by assembling all the equipment you’ll need. For example, you can buy or rent an electric sander from a hardware store near you.
Next, ventilate the house and seal off the vents and anything you don’t want to harbor dust. Then, put on your protective face mask and goggles.
Steps on how to get paint off of hardwood floors
Step 1: Plug in your electric sander to a power source.
Step 2: Sand your wood floor using 60 grit sandpaper. This will break down much of the thick layers of the paint. Vacuum the debris and sanded dust off the place.
Step 3: Replace the 60 grit with 80 grit sandpaper. Sand further to remove more paint stain from your floor, then vacuum it clean.
Step 4: Next, replace the 80 grit with 120 grit sandpaper. Continue to sand to remove most, if not all, of the paint stain from your hardwood floor. The finer the sandpaper grit, the smoother and more even the wood will be.
Step 5: Proceed with handheld sandpaper to get to the paint in between floorboards and the corners.
Step 6: If stubborn paint is still on the wood, you can remove it with warm soapy water. Follow the steps elaborated above on how to use them to remove water-based paint from wood floors.
Step 7: Give the wood a final wipe with a damp cloth to remove any excess paint and sanding marks.
How to Remove Latex Paint from Hardwood Floors
So if you are wondering how to strip latex paint from wood, here are some of the ways to go about it.
1. Using Paint Stripper
Using commercial paint removers is one of the best ways to get paint off hardwood floors.
Materials and Tools
- Paint stripper
- Protective gloves
- Brass-bristled brush or steel wool
- Odorless mineral spirits
- Plastic putty knife
- 2 Plastic bowls
- Face mask or a respirator
Assemble all your tools and materials. Ensure the room is well-ventilated before you begin working.
Put on your mask, goggles, and gloves. Remember that chemicals can be hazardous and need to be handled with caution.
You can also learn how to remove paint without chemicals to avoid any accidents.
How to clean paint off hardwood floors
Step 1: Put some paint stripper in a plastic bowl.
Step 2: Use a paintbrush to apply the paint stripper to the wood. Apply a generous amount and let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 3: You know the paint is ready to lift off once you see bubbles on the surface of the painted area.
Step 4: Go in with your paint scraper. Angle it slightly, facing away from you, and push it along the wood grain to remove the dissolved paint. Peel off as much paint as you possibly can.
Step 5: Repeat the process to remove the paint stain from your wood surfaces’ painted parts.
Step 6: In case of trapped paint between floorboards, you can scrub it off using mineral spirits, a ball of steel wool, or a brass-bristled brush.
Step 7: Wipe the wood clean with a damp rag and leave it to air dry.
2. Using Heat Machine
Heat is one of the ways you can remove dry or old latex paint from wood floors. Here’s a detailed guide to using this method.
Items and Materials
- Heat machine
- Paint removers
- Face mask
- Heatproof gloves
Ensure the room is well ventilated to avoid getting overwhelmed with heat or paint fumes from lots of heating. Since fire can occur, be sure to have a fire extinguisher close by just in case.
Also, wear your gloves and face mask to protect yourself.
Follow These Steps When removing paint from floor
Step 1: Plug in the heat machine to a power source.
Step 2: Hover the heat machine in circular motions over your hardwood floor. Ensure the heat machine is eight to ten inches away from the wood to avoid scorching.
Step 3: Once the paint begins to wrinkle and form bubbles, scrape the paint off slowly. In short, hold the heat gun in one hand and peel the paint using the hand.
Step 4: Repeat the process as necessary.
Step 5: Turn off the heat machine, clean your wood floor and dispose of the debris appropriately.
If you cannot remove all the paint stain using a heat machine, consider sanding or using any other method of your choice, provided it gets the job done.
3. Using Steam Stripper
Consider using this method if lots of heat and chemical exposure doesn’t sit well with you. This method is also environmentally friendly and equally efficient. It may be a little slower than other methods we have discussed, but patience pays.
- Steam stripper
- Latex paint remover
- Plastic putty knife
- Protective face mask
How to remove dried paint from floor – step by step
Step 1: Plug in the steamer to a power source.
Step 2: Hold the steamer about three inches away from the surface of the floor. Hold it there for about 20 seconds.
Step 3: Check for bubbles beginning to form on the latex paint surface.
Step 4: Use your putty knife to scrape off the latex paint from wood floors.
Step 5: Repeat the process on all the areas where you want to remove the latex paint.
Step 6: Dispose of the debris appropriately, switch off the steamer and store it well.
4. Using a mixture of Lemon Juice and Rubbing Alcohol
Notice that you can remove latex paint using materials readily available at home. The good part is that these materials do not pose any health threat to you or the environment.
How To remove paint from painted hardwood floors
Step 1: Prepare your cleaning solution by mixing one-part lemon juice with three-part rubbing alcohol in a container. Mix well.
Step 2: Dip a clean cloth in the solution.
Step 3: Rub the saturated cloth on the latex paint on the hardwood floor.
Step 4: Use a brass-bristled brush to scrub the latex paint out from the wood.
Step 5: After that, wipe the floor using a damp cloth to clean it. Repeat the process until you are pleased with the outcome.
5. Using paint scrapper
You can remove latex paint from wood floors by simply scraping it out with the correct object. Here is what you will need to complete the task.
- Paint scraper
- An old credit card
Step 1: Scrape off the dried latex paint using a pull scraper or the edge of anything made of plastic that you think can do the job. Use one of these items depending on what is available to you.
Sharp objects like straight-edge razors may not be the best option if you want to keep your hardwood free of scratches and cuts.
Step 2: Wipe the paint residue with a damp cloth.
How to Remove Dried Oil-Based Paint from Hardwood Floors
Here are some of the ways you can use to remove oil-based paints from wooden floors.
Sanding removes just about any paint from a wooden surface. And an oil-based paint stain is no exception.
Tools You Will Need
- Power sander
- Different grit sandpapers—60, 80, and 120
- Palm sandpaper
- Vacuum cleaner or a broom
- Gloves and a face mask
- Cotton rag
Steps to Remove paint stains
Step 1: Turn on the sander and begin sanding with 60 grit sandpaper. Sand along the wood grain. The less grit, the more the paint is likely to come off.
Step 2: Vacuum the dust and replace the sandpaper. Use the 80 grit sandpaper for the second round of sanding.
Step 3: Sand further, always along the wood grain. This grit is a little bit finer and will remove whatever paint is left after the first sanding.
Step 4: Change the sandpaper to 120 grit. After this round, your wood floor is going to be a shade lighter since all of the paint should have come off. The wood is also going to feel soft to the touch and look even.
Step 5: Vacuum to clean the wood floor after sanding one more time. In a case where you find some paint left in hard-to-reach areas, use the handheld sandpaper to remove paint from corners and floorboard crevices.
Step 6: Give your hardwood a final proper wipe with a damp rag and spare no residue while at it.
2. Using a Paint Stripper
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to a paint stripper. The first step, ensure you get one designed to remove oil-based paint. Then you may also want to get a non-toxic one.
Remember to adhere to the safety precautions recommended on the label while handling these products.
- Paint stripper
- Painting brush
- Firm-bristled brush
- Putty knife
- Gloves, mask, and goggles
- A rag
Put on your safety gear. Ensure that your paint removal work is in a well-ventilated area, well-lit, and with sufficient air flowing in and out.
Steps to remove oil-based paints;
Step 1: Apply the paint stripper on the hardwood floor using a painting brush or paint remover. Be sure to apply a generous amount and leave it to seep into the hardwood for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 2: Once the dried paint is soft enough and ready to lift off, scrape it off gently.
Step 3: Use mineral spirits and a firm-bristled brush to remove dried paint from hard-to-reach corners and hardwood crevices.
Step 4: Wipe the wood with a damp rag to ensure you leave the wood free of any chemical or dried paint residue.
3. Using Paint Thinner
This can be turpentine, mineral spirits, or acetone. The paint removers are meant to dissolve the paint and make it easy to remove. You can purchase any of them from a local hardware store or on Amazon.
- Paint thinner
- Cotton rags
- Face mask or a respirator
Step 1: Soak the rag in your paint thinner.
Step 2: Rub the hardwood surface with the rag to dissolve the paint.
Step 3: Repeat the process to remove as much paint as possible.
Step 4: Wipe the floor with a damp rag to remove any residue.
4. Using Heat Machine
Following a similar procedure, as discussed above, you can remove dried oil-based paint stains from your hardwood floor using heat.
Items You Will Need
- Heat machine
- Putty knife
- Face mask
- Heatproof gloves
Put on your mask and gloves. Ensure you are working in a properly ventilated space. Have a fire extinguisher close by just in case a fire breaks out.
Steps for Removing Paint From Wooden Floors
Step 1: Plug in the heat machine to a power source. A heat machine, in this case, could be a heat gun or a hairdryer. Use whichever is at your disposal.
Step 2: Hold your paint scraper in one hand, heat the dried paint using a heat machine on the other hand.
Step 3: Test if the dried paint is soft and can peel off while you heat. Have the heat machine about eight inches away from the wood to avoid burns.
Step 4: Peel the dried paint that’s ready to come off. Continue in the same fashion until you are content with the new condition of your wood floor finish.
How to Remove Paint Splatter from Wood Floors
Here are some simple ways how to get paint splatters off wood.
1. Using Paint Scrapper
Using this method can remove both water-based and oil-based paint splatter on wooden surfaces. For this task, you will need a rigid plastic putty knife and a damp rag.
Start by tilting the paint scraper and applying enough pressure to remove the paint splatter. Scrap it off as many times as necessary, then wipe the dried paint off the wood with a rag.
2. Using Soap and Water
This is the best way to get paint off hardwood floors, most suitable for water-based paint.
Wet the paint with warm soapy water using a rag. Let it sit for a minute or more, depending on the size of the splatter. Then use a non-abrasive scouring pad to remove the soaked paint. Finally, wipe the wood clean with a damp rag. Voila.
3. Using a Steamer
Plugin the steamer into a power source and hold it close to the paint splatter for a few seconds. This will warm up the dried paint for an easy paint removal job.
Then, rub the steamed surface with a damp rag to remove the paint splatter from the floor.
4. Using Hand Sanitizer
The alcohol in the sanitizer helps to break down the paint and make it easy to remove.
All you need to do is apply the sanitizer to the paint and let it sit for about 30 seconds or more, depending on the thickness of the splatter. Then rub it with an old toothbrush. After that, wipe the hardwood surface with a damp rag to clean it up.
How to Remove Old Paint from Hardwood Floors
Say you just moved into a house that has seen better days, and the paint is old and dull. To make it comfortable, you will need to remove the old paint and then replace it with a fresh coat.
There are a number of methods you can use to improve this kind of situation.
Whatever you choose, test out on an inconspicuous area first before going all-in on a large surface.
- Power sander
- Sandpaper with different grit levels
- Cotton cleansing pads
- Gloves, goggles and face mask or respirator
- Paint scraper
- Pressure washer
Clear the space, remove anything you would not want to make dusty in the case of sanding, and wet if you use a pressure washer. Ensure you wear your face shield and hand gloves.
Most important to note, we advise paint removal by sanding should be strictly on hardwood floors with enough thick layers.
Otherwise, to remove paint off your hardwood floors, use simpler and cheaper alternatives to strip paint from wood without sanding.
How to remove paint off floors through sanding
Start by plugging your sander into a power source. Then, begin sanding the old paint using 60 grit sandpaper to remove the thick, old layers of paint.
Subsequently, shift to 80-grit, then 120-grit sanders to remove stubborn paint from hard-to-reach areas of the floor, between floorboards, and even out the wood.
Finally, wipe the hardwood floor surface with a cleansing pad and dispose of the chipped paint appropriately.
How to get paint off of wood floor with a pressure washer
This method can be effective, especially if the old paint has started flaking off. It is one of the natural paint remover methods.
Set up the pressure washer, connect a yellow nozzle to the pressure washer wand, and turn on the water and the power.
Stand firm, hold the pressure washer wand at an angle above the hardwood with old paint, release the trigger and spray the water. Use motions that simulate sweeping and sweep along the wood grain.
Move back and forth, closer and farther from the wood as necessary. This ensures you remove all of the old paint from all parts of the wooden floor. Once all of the old paint is out, wipe the wood to remove excess water and moisture. Let it air dry.
How to Get Paint off Hardwood Floors without Sanding
Steps to remove paint from floor using a paint scrapper
You will need a paint scraper or any plastic object with a solid, sharp edge that you can use for this easy method. You will also need a damp rag.
Use the paint scraper to scrape away the hardened paint from your hardwood, back and forth all around, until all the paint stains come off. Then wipe with a damp rag, and you’re done.
Removing paint from hardwood floors using warm, soapy water
This method works best for water-based and latex paint. You will need a rag and warm soapy water.
Wet the floor with the paint and let it sit for a minute or two. Then, rub the paint off using the cotton swab. Next, wipe the surface to remove excess water and paint, then let it air dry.
How to get paint off of wood floors Using Rubbing Alcohol and Lemon Juice
This method works best for removing paint from wood floors without damaging the finish.
First, you will need to mix lemon juice and add a few drops of rubbing alcohol in the ratio of 1:3. Then, apply the mixture to the paint stains using a rag and let it sit for a few minutes.
Rub the mixture and the paint out using a rag, non-abrasive sponge, or a floor scrub brush. Finally, wipe the floor dry and let it air dry further.
How to get paint off floor Using Denatured Alcohol
Denatured alcohol or methylated spirits can remove any paint.
Saturate a cotton ball or cleansing pad in the denatured alcohol and use it to soak the paint. The denatured alcohol will dissolve the paint and make it easy to remove. Finally, wipe the remaining paint stains with a damp rag.
Steps to Remove Paint from Hardwood Floor Using Vinegar
Soak the paint in vinegar and leave it for about a minute or more, depending on the thickness of the paint and how big the floor is.
While removing paint stains, rub it with an old toothbrush to remove stubborn paint. Then wipe it out with cleansing pads.
For a more detailed step-by-step procedure, check out our post on how to remove paint from wood using vinegar.
How to Remove Paint from a Hardwood Floor Using Paint Thinners
Ensure you use a paint thinner specific to the type of paint on your wood floor surface for best results.
Apply the paint thinner to the paint and let it sit for a while. Then use a pull scraper to remove the softened paint stains from the wood.
Once all the paint has come off, give it a final wipe with a damp rag.
How to Remove Paint from a Hardwood Floor Using a Paint Stripper
Once you have chosen the paint stripper you intend to use, apply it to the paint using a paintbrush. Let it sit for about 30 minutes or until you see bubbles forming.
Scrape the paint stains along the wood grain and remove as much paint stains as possible.
Use mineral spirits, steel wool and paint remover to remove stubborn paint stains from between floorboards or hard-to-reach areas of the floor. Then, give it a final wipe with a damp rag.
How to remove paint off wood floor Using a Heat Machine
You can use a heat gun or a hairdryer set to the maximum heat setting. Hover it on the paint, about eight inches away from the wood. Once the paint stains begin to wrinkle, scrape them out using a metal putty knife while you continue heating.
Do the same for all parts of the hardwood floor. Clear out the debris and dispose of them appropriately.
How to take paint off wood floor Using a Steamer
Hold the steamer about three inches away from the wood and focus it on one section at a time.
Once the paint stains begin to form bubbles and wrinkles, you can either wipe the remaining paint away with a cotton rag or scrape it off using a paint remover.
Finally, wipe the floor clean with a damp rag.
How to Remove Paint from Hardwood Floors Summary
That said, the type of paint on your hardwood floor should determine the method you pick for removing paint stains from hardwood floors.
Also, the number of paint layers, the size of the floor, and your ease of using a particular method will play a role.
Feel free to use a combination of the methods in this guide on how to get paint off hardwood floors without damaging the finish. But, remember to adhere to every safety precaution and enjoy.
Further, read about: Can I Put Wood Flooring on Walls