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    How to remove paint from concrete surfaces

    Ready your concrete floors or walls for your next renovation project.

    Chin Suarez | Oneflare
    Created 08 Dec 2023

    Whether as flooring or for indoor or outdoor walls, on your garage floor or in the living room, there is sure to be a concrete surface in most homes. One special characteristic of concrete is how porous it is, which is why getting paint on it is easy, and removing the paint can get a little tricky.

    Say you accidentally left paint splatters on the concrete floor while painting a wall. You’ll need to go through the proper steps to remove the paint on concrete surfaces. Learn how to remove paint from concrete floors and other surfaces using this step-by-step guide to ensure you have clean and attractive surfaces at home!

    Understanding the types of paint and concrete

    Yellow paint splatters on concrete ground | Source: iStock

    Different types of paints, like epoxy and oil-based, are used on concrete surfaces. However, the paint removal difficulty depends on the paint type. Latex paint, for instance, peels easily, allowing simple scraping before using paint thinner. 

    The affected surfaces can also influence your choice of paint removal method. For example, open driveways make using lots of chemicals and a pressure washer easy, as they are wide open spaces. However, you might need to use lighter chemicals and more elbow grease to get the paint off safely from a concrete wall indoors.

    Choosing the right paint removal method

    Before getting started, you’ll need to determine your paint removal method.


    If the paint is already chipping away from the concrete and peels off easily, a paint scraper or a wire brush and some patience could do the trick. This method is easy but time-consuming and will probably need to be combined with chemical strippers.

    Chemical strippers 

    The most common method is using paint strippers like paint thinners or acetone. There are different kinds of paint strippers; some are better for water-based latex paint, and the most common is used for oil-based paints. This is a fairly easy method, but it takes a bit of time and can be hard for those sensitive to strong odours.

    Power washing 

    By using a pressure washer that shoots powerful jets of water, you can physically separate the paint from the concrete. This works on nearly every paint and is a quick way to do the job. However, you’ll need to rent the equipment or even hire a professional to do it, as using the machine improperly can gouge your concrete surface.

    Sand or soda blasting 

    This method is the costliest, as it requires you to buy or rent industrial tools; however, they are also very effective. Sandblasting shoots out silica, while soda blasting uses specialised sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda. Both are highly effective when used to remove paint from concrete.

    Tools you’ll need

    For a typical at-home paint removal process, you’ll need these items:

    • Protective gear like gloves and goggles
    • Bucket
    • Sponge
    • Wire brush or steel wool
    • Pressure washer
    • Paint thinner
    • Plastic sheeting

    You’ll need at least two hours to remove big paint spills on concrete, but whole painted walls should take half a working day. It will also be a lot of active work, so commit yourself to the process.

    Safety precautions

    Removing paint might seem easy, but all the methods require strong chemicals or heavy equipment. Stay safe by having all the safety equipment on you, like heavy-duty gloves and safety goggles. When using strong chemicals, ensure you’re not in an enclosed area and open windows and doors where possible.

    A guide on how to remove paint from concrete floors and other surfaces

    Step 1: Scrape away loose or peeling paint

    Scraping paint off a concrete wall | Source: iStock

    The first thing to do when you remove paint stains from concrete is to peel and scrape off any old paint. This removes a lot of the paint without the need to use chemicals like a paint stripper for concrete. 

    You can do this step by hand at first for any old paint stains that can be peeled off, but you’ll have to pivot to using a scraping tool to get under the tougher stains.

    Step 2: Clean the surface

    After scraping as much paint as possible, you need to clean off all the dirt and grime that can act as a barrier between the paint stripper and the concrete. This is an important step, as concrete is porous and hard to clean thoroughly. Mix a cleaning solution with warm water, then scrub with your wire brush.

    This is also where you can use a pressure washer. Ensure your washer is in an appropriate setting so you don’t gouge the concrete surface and cause damage. Use the pressurised water to clean the area with the paint stain.

    Step 3: Apply a paint stripper and let it set

    A gallon of paint thinner ready for use | Source: iStock

    Once you have a cleaned concrete surface, you can start using your paint stripper to remove paint deep in your concrete. 

    Wear protective gloves, glasses and a mask. If you’re working outdoors, use plastic sheeting to cover up any plants around, even if you’re using environmentally-friendly paint thinner to be safe.

    Apply the paint stripper generously over all the paint spots you want to remove. Not every paint thinner is the same, so it’s best to read the instructions to know how long it needs to soak. As a general rule, let the paint remover stay for 20 minutes to break down the paint stain.

    Step 4: Get scraping (again) or scrubbing 

    The paint thinner should lift the paint off and create a mass easy to scrape off with a putty knife. Some patches might be tougher to remove than others, so scrape and scrub until you can’t take them off anymore. 

    You can also return to using your pressure washer to remove all the paint, which should be much easier now that the paint remover has chemically lifted the paint.

    Step 5: Rinse and repeat 

    Tough paint stains or splatters usually need more than one cycle of paint removal, so just go back to applying the paint stripper and scrubbing. If the paint stain is proving too tough, you can pivot to a different kind of paint thinner or use a different paint removal method.

    Restore the beauty of your concrete surfaces

    Removing old paint from a wall | Source: iStock

    Removing paint from concrete takes time and a lot of effort. It’s a helpful skill to learn to do by yourself for small paint stains. However, it might be best to call up a professional for big projects big project, like revamping a fully painted garage floor.

    Expert paint removers are equipped with all the tools for clean and thorough paint removal. From floor grinders to pressure washers, you’ll be sure to get rid of any paint stains on concrete. Experienced professional painters can finish the tough job and put on fresh paint for your home.

    FAQs on removing paint from concrete

    Does acetone remove paint from concrete? 

    There are many different kinds of paint thinners out there. Acetone is a great example that you probably have at home, and it will work as a paint stripper substitute for small stains in a pinch. 

    What is the best way to remove paint from a concrete floor?

    It depends on the paint type and the concrete surface. For example, latex paints are easy to scrape off, but you cannot say the same about oil-based paint. It’s best to use the appropriate paint-removing technique in the situation you find yourself in.

    How do you remove spray paint from concrete?

    If you plan to remove acrylic spray paint on concrete walls, this is best removed using an ammonia solution. Alternatively, you can use acetone for smaller areas. 

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