Spilling paint on your concrete garage floor, patio, or driveway is a real pain. Removing paint from concrete is tricky enough and time-consuming because it is highly porous. But don’t despair; there is a way. Want to know how to remove paint from concrete?
We show you how to get paint off concrete using the best techniques and offer alternative methods that use natural ingredients.
- Understand the type of paint: Water-based (acrylic or latex) paints are easier to remove, while oil-based paints require a chemical solution like mineral spirits or paint stripper.
- Gather the necessary tools: Dustpan, brush, broom, dish soap, paint stripper, scrubbing brush, paint scraper or putty knife, and protective equipment.
- Apply the paint stripper: Clean the surface, apply the stripper, let it sit, and scrub away the paint. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
- Non-chemical alternatives: Use ammonia, a soda blaster, or a pressure washer to remove paint from concrete without chemicals.
The Type of Paint
Understanding the type of paint you have on your concrete surfaces is vital because it directly affects how you remove it. So, what are the different paints?
Water-based paint is sometimes called acrylic or latex paint. It is water-based, making it a lot easier to clean up after use. That said, once left to cure and soak into your concrete, it can still be difficult to remove.
The best thing about water-based products is they are kinder to the environment because they are low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so when the paint dries, it releases no low-level ozone. It also has lower odors, so you can use it indoors in confined spaces.
Oil-based paints are harder to shift from your concrete surfaces. They contain higher levels of resins and binders, making them extremely adherent. They also have a higher VOC level, which releases low-level ozone when the paint starts the curing process.
You will need a chemical solution like mineral spirits, thinners, or paint stripper to get that nasty oil stain off your concrete.
It’s easy to find out what paint you have, soak a cotton wool ball in some mineral spirits, and rub it over your paint stain. If the surface of the cotton wool has paint residue on it, it is likely to be oil-based.
Tools You Will Need
Before we launch headfirst into how to remove paint from your concrete surfaces, we need to get some tools and products together.
Here’s what you will need:
- Dustpan and brush.
- Dish soap.
- Paint stripper.
- Scrubbing brush.
- Paint scraper or putty knife.
- Industrial sodium bicarbonate.
- Garden hose (non-chemical alternative).
- Pressure washer (non-chemical alternative).
- Face mask.
- Protective gloves.
How To Remove Paint From Concrete
We will focus on alternative methods of removing concrete without resorting to chemicals a bit further into the article, but for now, we’ll look at the paint stripper method.
1. Clean the Concrete
Grab a broom and sweep away any loose dirt or debris. Make sure you have your face mask and goggles on for this as the dust gets everywhere.
Then, fill a bucket with mild dish soap and water and scrub the surface of the concrete with the scrubbing brush. You could invest in a long-handled deck brush to save the punishment on your knees.
Once the surface is clean, use a garden hose to rinse off the soap suds and leave the floor to dry. This could take several hours, so it is worth planning ahead.
2. Apply the Stripper
There are two types of paint strippers: one for water-based paint and one for oil-based products. That’s why it’s important to know what kind of paint you are dealing with. If you are still not sure, choose a paint stripper for oil.
Apply the paint stripper to the affected area, making sure you wear protective gloves. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when laying the stripper down.
3. Let the Stripper Sit
Allow time for the paint stripper to work its magic. Leave it for the recommended time according to the instructions, which could range from a few minutes to several hours.
Always keep children and pets away from the affected area, so if you need to leave it for a couple of hours, bear this in mind.
You should see the paint start to lift and separate from the concrete surface as the stripper bubbles.
4. Time for Elbow Grease
While the paint reacts with the paint stripper, use the scrubbing brush and work vigorously over the affected area to scrape away the excess paint. If you have stubborn spots, use the scraper or putty knife.
Keep working the surface until all traces of the stain are gone.
5. Wash Clean
Grab the garden hose and rinse away the residue of the paint stripper. You can use dish soap to get a bit more cleaning power. If you want to penetrate the concrete, a pressure washer is excellent at getting to those embedded paint spots.
6. Leave To Dry
After leaving the floor for several hours, it’s time to assess how successful you have been. If the stain is gone, congratulations; however, if it still remains, you may need to repeat the process all over again until it has completely disappeared.
If you have a larger paint spot, make up a poultice, consisting of sawdust and thinner or mineral spirits mixed into a paste. Lay it down over the affected area and cover with it plastic to allow it to draw out the paint.
How To Remove Paint From Concrete Using Non-Chemical Methods
Sometimes using chemicals is dangerous and harmful to the environment. So, what are the alternative methods?
Ammonia is a natural resource caused by the breakdown of organic matter. It is readily available in most DIY and hardware stores and is great for lifting dried-in latex paint stains.
Just because ammonia is a natural ingredient, it doesn’t mean it is entirely safe to use. Ammonia has a pungent odor, so make sure you wear a face mask and open all the windows if you are applying it indoors. Wear protective gloves because it may react with your skin.
1. Clean the Area
Using the same technique as before, sweep away any loose debris from the concrete surface. Try using a wire brush to loosen any excess paint, or maybe try and lift it off with a putty knife. The more paint you can get up manually makes the ammonia more effective.
2. Apply the Ammonia
Pour a generous amount on the affected area and leave it to sit for an hour. Alternatively, you could soak a cloth in ammonia and place it over the paint stain.
When the latex paint starts to bubble as it reacts with the ammonia, grab a scrubbing brush and attack the stain. Reapply the solution when it is needed, especially if the paint is proving to be stubborn.
3. Clean the Area
Wash the concrete clean using the hose and dish soap. Allow the concrete to dry before checking to see if the stain has completely disappeared.
Using a Soda Blaster
Soda blasters are an effective, non-chemical way of removing paint stains. You can hire them from tool shops for a small amount. They fire bicarbonate soda crystals at the concrete to get the paint off. It’s a bit like sandblasting.
You can’t use household bicarbonate of soda crystals in this industrial-strength machine. It only uses industrial soda crystals.
Always wear a respirator and goggles, and it is worth remembering that this machine is tricky to use, so you might want to consider using the services of a professional.
You need to spray the sodium carbonate from a safe distance, or you risk removing the concrete along with the paint. Also, move any plants as the higher sodium levels increase the pH levels in the atmosphere.
Using a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are ideal for blasting away paint stains, and you have the added bonus of removing ground-in stains to leave your concrete surfaces looking clean and bright.
1. Clean the Area
Grab a broom, sweep away any loose debris, and attack the paint stains with a scraper to remove any excess paint before using the washer.
2. Prepare the Surrounding Area
Using a pressure washer is dirty work. Water splashes everywhere, so take precautions to protect other nearby surfaces by covering them in plastic sheeting and removing any plants and ornaments.
3. Set the Pressure Washer
Set your pressure washer to 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) and hold the wand about 12 to 18 inches from the surface pointing downward, and work in sweeping motions.
Once the paint is off the concrete, release the trigger and assess how successful you have been. You may need to work in zones for more concentrated blasting.
The great news is a pressure washer is completely green, and you can do it as many times as you need.
4. Clean Up the Area
Using a pressure washer creates a lot of water. You will need to collect up the waste liquid and dispose of it safely. Now leave the floor to dry overnight.
How To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete
Spray paint is an easy and convenient way to paint, but it leaves splatters thanks to overspray. Getting spray paint off your concrete surfaces can be done using several methods, including soap and water and chemical paint strippers.
We are focusing on distilled white vinegar as a natural and safe method of removing wet and dry paint.
1. Clean the Area
Sweep away any loose debris and dust, and hack at the paint stain using a scraper or putty knife to remove the excess paint.
2. Heat the Vinegar
Pour half a cup of white distilled vinegar into a pan and place it on the stove. Don’t let the vinegar boil, just heat it enough that you see steam rising.
3. Apply the Vinegar
Dip your brush, sponge, or rag in the hot vinegar, ensuring you don’t burn yourself and apply it to the affected concrete surface. As it makes contact with the spray paint, it starts to bubble. Leave it to sit for 10 or 15 minutes.
4. Scrub the Area
Grab a scrubbing brush and attack the affected area to lift off the paint, and then take a clean rag and wipe away the paint and vinegar residue.
5. Clean the Area
Rinse the concrete with water and soap and allow it to dry overnight.