how to remove paint from concrete

3 Proven Methods: How to Remove Paint From Concrete

Last Updated on January 10, 2023

Do you know how to remove paint from concrete? It may not be something you have ever considered, and then along comes a time when this knowledge becomes more important than you realise.

The truth is that removing paint from the concrete is an easier job than you may have imagined. However, that is only the case when you have the correct tools and equipment. If not, you will be in for a bit of a fight.

In saying that, we are here to make life that bit easier for you when it comes to cleaning up that concrete surface and successfully removing those paint spills. By the end, that concrete surface will be looking brand new and ready for whatever you have planned for it.

Why Remove Paint From a Concrete Surface?

But why bother with removing paint from a concrete surface in the first place? Well, there are several reasons.

First, you may have been using spray paint outside, and as is the norm with spray paint, it gets everywhere. Your concrete patio may not be covered in paint aside from a mark where the item you were spraying once sat. It’s ugly and an eyesore, so the paint needs to be removed.

Of course, it’s not only with spray paint that this could happen. You may have been painting some item when using a brush, and those paint splatters and blobs fall onto uncovered concrete. Once again, it stands out all on its own, and that’s a problem.

But then there is a third option that doesn’t include those stubborn paint stains, and that is when you need to remove paint that was deliberately painted.

In this instance, you are looking at something the occasional paint splatters. Instead, you have something that has a thicker layer, so removing that will require a bit more work.

Thankfully, there are several methods available to you to remove paint from concrete. Some will involve industrial products, but we will also show you how to remove paint from concrete without chemicals.

Be Warned It’s Not Always Easy

But first, let’s set the record straight. Removing paint is not always going to be an easy thing to do. Trying to remove paint from any porous surfaces can be a tough job.

Also, the type of paint you are trying to remove can change things. The way you remove acrylic paint is different compared to oil-based paints. However, we will help you out, no matter what kind of old paint you are trying to get off that concrete floor.

However, don’t think that this is going to be a tremendous job. Yes, it might be challenging, but different methods will make your life easier. We are going to look at three of them to help you out.

Method 1: Paint Strippers

Scraping the walls using an electric scraper

Perhaps the first method people will think of includes paint strippers. You can buy this from your local hardware store, and there’s no doubt they can be effective at times.

But you need to just stop right there. Don’t simply throw a chemical paint stripper right onto the concrete. Instead, there’s a process to go through to increase the chances of the paint remover actually working.

Step 1: Clean the Concrete

The first step is always to clean the concrete. Remove any debris or grime that may have built up on the surface, as that can act as a barrier, making life more difficult for the paint remover.

At this point, get out a wire scrub brush and run it all over the concrete: this procedure is designed to remove as much of that loose paint as possible. It means you are left with the real stubborn paint, and that is where the paint stripper can really work its magic.

Step 2: Apply the Paint Stripper

The next step is to apply the paint stripper, and this is not something you should do sparingly either. Keep in mind the concrete surface is porous. That means it’s tough to remove paint from concrete, so you need that paint stripper to be able to work right down through the paint.

After applying, you need to wait the designated period as stated on the paint stripper before you start to tackle the job of removing paint. How long the paint stripper takes to work varies greatly, so following the instructions is essential. Otherwise, it will mean it’s just not capable of removing paint from concrete to the level you would expect.

Apply paint stripper over all the paint, and make sure you apply a thick layer. Wear the proper safety equipment as the stripper can splash up, and the appropriate protective gear, such as safety goggles, will stop those toxic chemicals from getting into your eyes.

Step 3: Get Out a Paint Scraper

Once you have given the paint stripper time to work on that concrete surface, you need to determine the method by which you will remove the actual paint. For this, there are many options.

The first we will mention is to use a paint scraper. The idea behind using a paint scraper is that some paints will peel off once the paint stripper has worked on it. A scraper gets under the surface, and you will be amazed at how much you manage to get off.

If you do not have a scraper, a putty knife can also work well.

Step 4: Scrubbing the Surface

But here is a problem. While a paint stripper gets into absolutely everything, a scraper will skim over the surface when trying to remove paint from concrete. The problem with concrete is it does have lumps, bumps and holes. So, while the paint stripper can do its job, it does mean you need to follow up the scraper with another method.

That approach is to use a wire scrub brush. You can use a wire brush on all concrete surfaces. It will be rough enough to remove loosened paint but not too hard that it will damage your concrete floors.

Rub a wire brush over the entire area, and then you are ready for the final step.

Step 5: Power Washing

The final step with this method is to power wash all those concrete surfaces. This will remove the last remnants of the paint, and it’s also a good way to wash off the paint stripper, so you are then left with the clean concrete underneath.

Power washing is the best approach with outdoor concrete, such as a concrete driveway or a concrete patio.

But using chemicals even on exterior concrete is not your only option. Instead, there are other ways for you to remove paint from concrete to be aware of.

DIY Paint Strippers

a woman's hand scraping the walls

As a quick note: if you don’t want to go down the path of using some full-on paint strippers but still want the paint thinner effect on stubborn paint residue, there is another option.

Also, this method will produce more absorbent paint strippers than ever!

For this, you want to use some clay or cat litter. Finely ground clay works best, and you want to mix this with some of the paint strippers.

The key here is to make a paste, apply a thick layer to spilt paint – or even existing paint – and leave it for an hour. This mixture will absorb the paint, and therefore, it will be easy to scrape off.

This method works well with removing oil-based paints, and it should be capable of removing pretty much all the paint that you see.

Method 2: The Soda Blaster Approach

But now, onto another method, and it’s the soda blaster approach. For this, you will need to rent a soda blaster, but it’s going to make short work of a large area, so if you are looking for a speedy approach, then this is the best option.

The only problem with this method is ensuring you have the correct sodium bicarbonate for the machine. Industrial-grade sodium bicarbonate uses the particles to blast off loose debris and some pretty stubborn paint stains.

Soda blasting is a fantastic way of dealing with indoor and outdoor concrete covered in paint. As a paint removal method, it is highly effective.

The key here is to make sure the nozzle of the soda blasting machine is kept close to the ground. In this sense, it works like a pressure washer. The pressure from the machine will blast that paint off all concrete surfaces, and it then allows you to see what’s left.

Also, wear protective clothing as the paint will fly off the surface.

After this, use a pressure washer to complete the paint removal process. The advantage of using this method over chemical paint strippers is that it is less toxic. However, if using the soda blasting method, make sure all furniture and plants are out of the way.

Method 3: Simple Power Washing

In some instances, a normal power washer could be the answer to your paint removal problem. This method can work well with latex paint, oil-based paint, and even water-based paint. However, you need to make sure your power washer has enough pressure to make a difference.

This method is great when dealing with loosened paint, but it can also remove some stubborn paint from concrete if you are willing to be patient. If you want to know how to remove paint from concrete without using chemicals, then this could be the best way to deal with that concrete surface.

But this approach has its problems. It’s not too good at dealing with old paint that has set into the concrete surface. It needs fresher paint or even chipped paint, where it can get under the surface edge and lift the paint thanks to the sheer force.

That is why this is the ideal approach for a fresh paint spill. It will remove just as much paint as the paint stripper method.

Key Tips on Removing Paint From Concrete

We have looked at different ways to remove paint from a concrete surface, but we have several tips that will hopefully make life easier.

Tip 1: Dealing With Oil Based Paint

The first tip is for both latex paint and oil-based. With this, using paint thinner or stripper is the fastest approach. It will reduce the need for elbow grease, and even though it includes chemicals, it will get that paint off.

Tip 2: Removing Masonry Paint

Knowing how to remove masonry paint from concrete is easy. Masonry paint is more acrylic based, so the power washer method will be the best approach in this instance. It should be able to blast away paint with ease.

Tip 3: Safety First

No matter the method you use, always make sure you wear protective clothing when removing any paint. Protective gear may include wearing overalls to protect your clothing, a face mask, and safety goggles.

Paint thinner is chemical in nature, and while it won’t affect most people, it can be an irritant to the skin. Also, getting it into your eyes, or breathing in the fumes, is not advisable.

Keep in mind that you will be scrubbing or blasting off paint, so those tiny flecks will get everywhere. You want to make sure you do not inhale them. Also, it can make a mess.

Tip 4: A Heat Gun

You can use a heat gun on water-based paint if you wish to speed up the removal process. The heat helps to break apart the bond in the paint, and you will then be able to scrape it off with ease. However, while it does work with any form of paint, you do need to worry about old paint containing chemicals that you would not want to heat up.

In short, only use this tip when it is recent paint that you may have even put on the concrete by yourself.

Removing Paint From Concrete Properly

And that is how to remove paint from concrete. With several methods available, it should mean you will find something that works for you. Understanding how to get paint off concrete should make life significantly easier for you. Also, we have shown that you may not need to use harmful chemicals either, which is always a bonus.

Find something that effectively does the job for you, as that’s the key. Removing paint from concrete takes some work, but you can get everything looking pristine once more with some patience.

Do you have any other tips for removing paint from concrete or other materials? Let us know and leave a comment below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top