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How To Remove Paint From Concrete

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We show you the best techniques for cleaning paint off your concrete.

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.

Getting Paint Off Concrete

  1. The first thing is to gather all the right tools and equipment.
  2. Make sure you have the correct protective equipment.
  3. Always start by cleaning the loose debris from the concrete surface.
  4. Pour on the paint stripper and let it sit as per the instructions.
  5. Wait for the paint to start bubbling.
  6. Grab a scrubbing brush and remove the loose paint.
  7. Now wash the area clean with water and leave the concrete to dry.


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

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

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.
  • Broom.
  • Dish soap.
  • Paint stripper.
  • Scrubbing brush.
  • Paint scraper or putty knife.
  • Industrial sodium bicarbonate.
  • Bucket.
  • Garden hose (non-chemical alternative).
  • Pressure washer (non-chemical alternative).
  • Face mask.
  • Protective gloves.
  • Goggles.

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.

Top Tip

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

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.

FAQs

Can I Use a Floor Grinder To Remove Paint?

You can buy or rent floor grinders, and they are an excellent alternative way to remove paint from concrete. You will need to grind your entire concrete floor so that it matches, but it will look bright and clean in the process.

When using a grinder, make sure you don a face mask and goggles because it creates a lot of harmful dust.

Do I Need To Seal My Concrete Floor?

You don’t have to seal your concrete floor, but concrete is a porous material and readily absorbs liquids, so if you drop paint, it will soak in and become harder to remove. Sealing the floor creates a coating on the surface that repels moisture, making it harder for the paint to adhere.

How Do You Remove Dried Latex Paint From Concrete?

Latex paint is pretty simple to shift compared to oil-based products. You will get most of the stain up using soap and water. If you have any stubborn spots, try laying down a layer of paint remover and let it sit for a few minutes.

Once the remover dries, scrape away the stain.


Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.