How to Remove Paint From Concrete – A Complete Tutorial

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Concrete floors are a popular choice for many, as they offer durability and are low maintenance. This is most probably the reason why most garage floors are concrete. However, concrete is porous and can absorb liquids. An obvious example would be the oil stains seen on most garage floors. Paint is another liquid that can cause problems if it gets onto concrete, and it is not just a matter of wiping it up off the floor. Removing paint from concrete is more of a process that involves quite a bit of time to complete. However, you can remove paint from concrete with the correct approach, products, and tools.



Removing Paint From Concrete

When untreated concrete gets a little paint on the surface, it is a good idea to remove paint from concrete floors as soon as possible to keep your floor clean and unblemished. On the other hand, the concrete floor might have been painted by design and you now need to figure out if you should apply concrete paint stripping, or simply paint over it.

In many cases, you can easily repaint without having to remove paint from concrete floors. You will need to use the same paint that was first applied, which could be water-based or oil-based. You can also apply a primer before painting over the surface. In cases where there are multiple layers of paint and you are not sure what type of paint it is. Maybe it could be lead-based? You might want to consider a proper job of removing paint from concrete if this is the case.

If you are searching for a solution for spray paint, have a look at our tutorial on how to remove spray paint from concrete.



How to Get Paint off Concrete: Paint Splatters

You might only want to remove paint from concrete that has splashed onto it from painting nearby. While it is still wet, wipe it off with a cloth moving from the outside of the mess towards the middle. Try not to smear the paint too much. Next, make a mixture containing dishwashing liquid and warm water. The ratio should be:

  • 5 gallons of water
  • One tablespoon of dishwashing liquid

Take a wire brush and wet it, then scrub the surface until the floor looks clean and rinse it off. You will have to do more if the paint dries. In this case, get an old rag and soak it in some paint thinner, then place it over the paint. Leave the soaked rag on the paint for about 30 minutes and then take a wire brush or a paint scraper and remove the paint. Finally, wash the surface with some water. How to remove paint from concrete after it has dried for a few days? For this, you will need to do the following:

  • Make sure the concrete surface is clean by sweeping or vacuuming
  • Take a paint scraper and remove any paint that is flaking or loose
  • Sweep and clean the surface again
  • Apply an appropriate paint stripper, this depends on the paint you want to remove (oil-based or water-based)
  • Read the instructions on the label and apply as directed
  • Depending on the instructions, you will need to leave the paint stripper on for some time. Anything from a few minutes up to eight hours
  • Take a wire brush or paint scraper and remove paint from concrete and then rinse off
  • For outdoor concrete surfaces, you can use a pressure washer
  • Follow the same process again if necessary


Note: Whenever you work with solvents or hazardous chemicals, it is important to wear protective gear. Gloves, eye goggles, and a respirator mask should be worn.

remove paint from concrete



How to Get Paint Off Concrete: Stubborn Paint

How to remove paint from concrete that is more persistent? You can prepare a concrete paint stripping absorbing paste. This can also be applied to larger areas with paint you want to remove. Here is what you need:

  • Paint stripper
  • Fine ground clay, some people use ground kitty litter
  • Wire brush and paint scraper
  • Scouring powder

Combine the paint stripper and the ground clay, it will form a paste you can then apply a thick layer to the paint surface. The clay is absorbent, so it helps to pull up the paint for easier removal. Leave this paste on the surface for several hours. The time could vary with different products, so always read the product label for precise instructions on how to use it.

You can scrape off the mixture and paint with a paint scraper. You can also scour the area using a wire brush. Rinse this off and follow the whole process again if needed. Again, when working with chemical products, always wear protective gear. Paint stripper contains harmful chemicals such as methylene chloride, so washing off the concrete surface with water after you are done is important. Any exposure to this chemical could cause harm to your health.

removing paint from concrete



How to Get Paint Off Concrete: Large Areas

The absorbent paste can be used on larger areas, but soda blasting may be a better option as a paint remover for concrete. This method is also more eco-friendly, as there are no hazardous chemicals. The process requires a soda blasting machine, you cannot use a normal sandblasting machine. You will also need special sodium bicarbonate that goes with the machine.

You can buy a soda blaster, but this can be rather expensive. There is the option of renting the blasting machine from a hardware store, and they should also then have the sodium bicarbonate as well. Holding the nozzle of the machine about a foot and a half from the surface, blast the painted area moving back and forth to get even coverage. The concrete underneath the paint will not be damaged by the process. Wear a respirator mask, as you do not want to inhale any particles flying around.

Since the pH of the soda can affect plants, remove them from the work area if possible, or protect them with a covering. You might also consider getting in a professional to do the job if you feel unsure about operating a soda blaster.



How to Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals

The soda blaster is one example of a chemical-free option, however, there are a few more you may want to consider. You get a natural and odorless soy gel paint stripper and other biodegradable and non-toxic strippers. There is also the option of using floor grinders, which are good for removing thin coats of paint.

Another option is a pressure washer, which uses high water pressure to blast the paint off the surface. These only use water and do not use any chemicals. However, this method might not be as effective if the paint has been on the surface for a long time.



Paint Remover for Concrete

When it comes to removing paint from concrete, you must select the correct paint stripper. You have paint strippers that are designed for water-based paints and others for oil-based paints. However, if you are not too sure what type of paint you are dealing with, rather go for the oil-based paint option.

paint remover for concrete


How to Remove Paint From Concrete: Latex or Acrylic Paint

These paints are water-based, so they are easier to remove than oil-based paints. When you spill latex paint, make sure to wipe it up with some paper towels or old rags before it dries. You should be able to wash it off with some soapy water within several weeks. However, if the latex paint dries after this you can do one of the following.

First, clean the area to get rid of any dirt and use a paint scraper to remove any loose paint. You can try using ammonia, apply it to the painted area and leave for about an hour. You should see the latex paint start to bubble. Take a paint scraper or wire brush to remove the loose paint. Re-apply if needed and wash off the area with water.

Alcohol can also be used to take off latex paint. Soak a rag and place this down onto the painted surface. Rub it into the surface to help loosen the paint. When it comes to more persistent paint, using a water-based paint stripper is required. Read the directions on the product so that you follow the procedure properly.


How to Remove Paint From Concrete: Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints are a lot more difficult to remove. Clean the surface of dirt and strip off any loose or peeling paint using a paint scraper. Clean the surface again and apply the paint stripper. Remove the paint and rinse the surface or use a pressure washer for increased effectiveness.


How to Remove Paint From Garage Floor: Epoxy

Many go for epoxy over their garage floors, although, removing epoxy can be quite a job. However, there are various ways of removing paint from concrete, and these include:

  • Acetone
  • Alcohol
  • Paint Strippers
  • Floor Grinder
  • Steel Shot Blaster
  • Sand Blaster

Epoxy is one of the more difficult coatings to remove and, in most cases, it requires at least several coats of paint stripper to remove it. So, getting in a professional might be the best option in this case.

concrete paint stripping



Safety When Using Paint Strippers

Paint strippers are the most effective when you want to remove paint from concrete. Other methods like grinding can produce a lot of dust and require some hard work to get the job done. However, chemical paint strippers can be harmful if you do not use them properly as directed. Study the product labels and go along with the directions for use to avoid any problems.

If at any time you feel dizzy, find it difficult to breathe, or develop a headache when working with paint strippers, stop and get some fresh air immediately. Paint strippers contain a chemical know as methylene chloride, which is hazardous to your health. Long term exposure may even cause cancer. Getting it on your skin can cause irritation and breathing it in can lead to nausea, headaches, dizziness, irritability, and difficulty breathing. For these reasons, you should follow certain safety precautions:

  • Always check the product label and follow the directions indicated
  • When possible, work outside when using paint strippers
  • When indoors make sure you have particularly good ventilation, open windows, and use fans
  • Wear a respirator mask, chemical resistant gloves, and protective eyewear
  • If you do get paint stripper on your skin, wash it off immediately
  • Do not keep any food or drink in your work area
  • Do not smoke while working with paint strippers
  • Maybe consider getting in a professional rather than attempting a job yourself



Frequently Asked Questions


How to Remove Paint From Garage Floor Using Paint Strippers?

When using paint strippers, you will need to select one that works with the type of paint. There are oil and water-based options, these are usually chemically based paint strippers. You also get more eco-friendly concrete paint stripping options.


Is a Floor Grinder an Option to Remove Paint From Concrete?

Yes, a floor grinder can be used to remove paint from concrete more quickly than using paint strippers. You will have to choose the correct grinder for the job and make sure to wear a respirator mask to avoid breathing in any dust. Wash away the dust and paint once done. The grinders can be difficult to manage, so you might want to think about getting a professional to do the job.


Can You Prevent Paint From Being Absorbed into Concrete?

Untreated concrete is absorbent and will soak up liquids. You can seal the concrete surface with a floor sealer or floor wax, which will help to inhibit absorption and make it easier to clean when spills happen.


How to Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals?

There are many options from grinding, soda blasting, pressure blasting to using non-toxic paint strippers.


Can You Use Vinegar to Remove Paint From Concrete?

Yes, white vinegar can help to remove paint from concrete. Vinegar is an affordable and eco-friendly option and is not toxic. This is great for smaller areas and less stubborn paint. Larger areas and more persistent dry paint might require something stronger.


Will Acetone Remove Paint From Concrete?

When you have scraped the majority of the water-based paint off, you can then get rid of the remainder using acetone. Oil-based paint needs stronger solvents for removal.


How Much Pressure is Needed for Removing Paint From Concrete?

You should get a pressure washer that has a range of 2.500 PSI up to 4000 PSI (pressure per square inch). Always make sure to wear safety gear when handling this type of equipment.


Knowing how to remove paint from concrete can be a very useful skill to have, and it is important when refurbishing concerete floors or walls. Be sure to follow our guide above to perfectly remove paint without any trouble.