How to Remove Paint From Concrete? (9 Methods)

Removing paint from concrete is a task many DIYers struggle with but not anymore. Today, we would take a look at how to remove paints from concrete easily.

The best way to remove paint from concrete is to use a chemical-based or solvent-based paint stripper. Solvent-based paint stripers can be applied over the painted concrete. The paint stripper will soak into the paint and destroy the bond between the paint particles and the concrete making it easier to scrape the paint off.

You can also remove paint from concrete by soaking the paint with warm soapy water and scrubbing it off after a few minutes. But you should know that this method works best on latex or water-based paints.

This post reveals more about removing paint from concrete. It includes expert strategies to remove paint from concrete without chemicals or solvents. So, let’s dive in.

How To Know What Type Of Paint You Have In Your Concrete?

How To Know What Type Of Paint You Have In Your Concrete?

To know what type of paint you have in your concrete, you should wipe the paint with a rag or cotton ball soaked in alcohol. If the paint comes off on the rag or cotton ball, it means that paint is water-based and should be removed accordingly.

If the paint doesn’t come off on the rag, it means the paint is either oil-based or has been sealed. The paint didn’t come off because oil-based concrete paints and sealed concrete paints have glossy layers that are solvent-resistant. So alcohol wouldn’t dissolve or remove the paint.

You can also know the type of paint you have on concrete by using the water test. To do this, put a few drops of water on the paint and wait a few minutes. Water-based paints usually allow the concrete to absorb water. So if the water is absorbed or the spot feels wet, it means the paint is water-based. If the paint is oil-based, the water will not be absorbed.

Feeling the texture of the paint can also help you discover what type of paint is on the concrete. When you run your fingers across the paint, a slick and glossy feeling means the paint is oil-based. A dry and textured feeling means the paint is water-based or unsealed.

You can also use the light test. To do this, you’ll need to expose the concrete paint to a light source. Your phone’s flashlight is good enough. Shine the light on the paint and if the paint looks shiny, it’s oil-based. Oil-based paints are usually shiny under light but water-based paints remain dull.

Now that you know how to figure out the type of paint, let’s move on to removing the paint.

How To Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals?

How To Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals?

You can remove paint from concrete without using chemicals if you scrape and sand the paint off. Grinders have also been proven as a chemical-free method to remove concrete paints. You should know that this mainly works for water-based paints.

Since water-based paints have a low sheen and no protective sealant, the paint can be easily scraped off. However, oil-based concrete paints, sealed concrete paints, and acid-based concrete paint will need to be dissolved with a solvent before they can be scraped off.

Here is a guide on how to remove water-based paint from concrete without using chemicals:

  1. Wipe the concrete paint with a rag to remove dust and grain on the paint
  2. Mix warm water with some detergent or dish soap
  3. Pour the mixture on the concrete and wait for 10 minutes
  4. Scrub the paint off of the concrete using a scrubbing brush
  5. Remove leftover paint if necessary
  6. Rinse the concrete surface.

You can also remove oil-based paint using the guide above but with one tweak. Instead of using warm water and soap, you’ll need to dissolve the oil-based paint with mineral spirits or turpentine. Mineral spirits will dissolve the oil-based concrete paint so you can scrape it off easily.

How To Remove Water-Based Paints From Concrete?

How To Remove Water-Based Paints From Concrete?

Here are the top 3 proven methods to remove water-based paint from concrete:

Method #1: Using Water-Based Paint Strippers

Water-based paint strippers are an effective way to remove water-based, latex, and acrylic paints from concrete. The method involves using paint stripping paste to absorb the paint on the surface.

After the paint striper has absorbed all the paint, it gets dry and flaky. Then you can scrape these flakes off with the absorbed paint leaving bare concrete.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Wipe the water-based paint on the concrete to remove dust and filth
  2. Stir the water-based paint stripper (optional)
  3. Apply two coats of the paint stripping paste on the water-based paint
  4. Spread the paint stripper using a putty knife
  5. Leave the paint stripper for about 30 minutes
  6. Use a metal putty knife to remove the paint stripper and the absorbed stain
  7. Reapply the paint stripper if there is leftover paint.

Let’s check out the next method.

Method #2: Scrubbing the Paint Off

You can also remove water-based paints from concrete by scrubbing the paint off. This method involves dissolving the water-based paint with soapy water.

Since water-based paints become softer when exposed to moisture and soap, the paint can be scrubbed or washed off easily.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  • Wipe the water-based paint to remove filth
  • Mix detergent in a bucket of warm water
  • Wet the water-based paint with the mixture. You can do this at intervals
  • Wait until the water-based paint looks lumpy or till you see bubbles in the paint
  • Scrub the paint off with a hard brush
  • Wash and rinse the concrete surface.

Method #3: Scraping and Sanding

You can also remove water-based paint from concrete by scraping and sanding the paint off. All you need to do here is to use a paint scraper like a trowel or a metallic putty knife to scrape off all the water-based paint from the concrete.

But before you start scraping, here are a few things you should know:

  • Scraping paint off concrete can damage the paint scrapper
  • Scraping paint off concrete will cause scars and marks on the concrete
  • It’s best to scrape water-based paint off concrete when the paint is wet

Now, let’s find out how to remove oil-based paints from concrete surfaces.

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Concrete?

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Concrete?

Before we go on, you should know that oil-based concrete paints are usually coated with gloss which makes the paint hard and moisture-resistant.

This means that water will not work here. Also, oil-based paints are known to contain toxic chemicals that shouldn’t be handled or inhaled. So for each method below, ensure to put on a pair of gloves and breathing protection.

Here are the top 3 methods to remove oil-based paint from concrete.

Method #1: Using Chemical or Solvent-based Paint Stripper

As explained earlier, oil-based paints usually have a glossy and hard finish. So to remove the paint, you’ll need a solvent or chemical-based paint stripper.

With this method, the solvent-based paint stripper will first dissolve the glossy sheen of the oil-based paint. Then the paint stripper will absorb the oil-based paint and dry up making it easier to scrape the oil-based and stripping paste off.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  • Wipe the oil-based paint to remove filth
  • Put on a pair of gloves and a face mask
  • Prep the paint stripper by following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Apply two coats of the paint stripping paste on the oil-based paint
  • Leave the paint stripper for about one hour
  • Use a paint scraper to remove the paint stripper and oil-based paint
  • Reapply the paint stripper if there is leftover paint.

Method #2: Using Petroleum-Based Solvents

Petroleum-based solvents are liquid formulas that are gotten from crude oil distillation. These solvents are potent enough to dissolve oil-based paints.

These solvents are also compatible with oil-based paints. With this method, the solvent will dissolve the glossy oil-based paint making it easier to just wipe off the oil-based paint.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Apply the petroleum-based solvent on the oil-based paint
  2. Wait for a few minutes for the paint to get dissolved
  3. When the paint starts to bubble, wipe it off with a clean rag
  4. Reapply the solvent on leftover paint
  5. Brush the concrete surface

You should ensure to clean, wash, and rinse the concrete after using a petroleum-based solvent on it. This is to prevent any chemical reaction between the concrete material and the solvent after the paint has been removed.

Method #3: Sandblasting

Sandblasting works to remove oil-based and sealed paint from concrete. This method involves using a sandblaster to expel sand or mineral rust at very high pressure on the paint. The sand will destroy the oil-based paint coating. This method helps to remove the gloss on the paint.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  • Fill the sand or blasting material
  • Connect the sandblaster nozzle
  • Aim the nozzle directly on the concrete
  • Turn on the sandblaster and compressor
  • Do this about 3 times to remove all the paint

You should never use industrial size or large sandblasters to remove paint. These sandblasters are too powerful and will damage the concrete.

You should only use a cabinet blaster or a mid-range sandblaster. You should also use a pair of goggles for this task. Now, let’s check out how to remove spray paint from concrete.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Spray paints are known to stick better to concrete because the paint is expelled at high pressure from the paint sprayer. So to remove this paint, you’ll need a strong or aggressive method. Here are the top 2 methods to remove spray paint from concrete:

Method #1: Using a Sander

A palm sander, orbital sander, and grinder all work well to remove spray paints. These devices are aggressive enough to remove water-based spray paints and gentle enough to be used on concrete without any damage.

Here is how to do this:

  1. Wipe the spray paint with a clean rag to remove dust and filth
  2. Plug-in the sander or grinder
  3. Sand the spray paint off the concrete surface by moving the sander in a circular motion
  4. Remove dust
  5. Sand again if necessary.

Method #2: Using Solvents (for Oil-based Spray Paints)

Just like with oil-based paints, you can use solvents to remove oil-based spray paints. The solvent will dissolve the spray paint making it easier to remove the paint. You can use mineral spirit or denatured alcohol as the solvent.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Wipe the spray paint
  2. Soak a clean rag in the solvent
  3. Use the damp rag to wipe the spray paint repeatedly till the paint is wet
  4. Leave the paint for about an hour to dissolve
  5. Scrub the spray paint with a toothbrush
  6. Wipe off the spray paint with a clean rag
  7. Wash and clean the concrete to prevent chemical reactions or etching.

Next, let’s check out other products that can remove paint from concrete.

Other Things That Can Remove Paint From Concrete

1. Vinegar

Vinegar can remove paint from concrete but this works best for flat, satin, and semi-gloss paints. Oil-based concrete paints would prove tough to remove with just vinegar.

You should never try to remove acid-based concrete paint with vinegar as both products have acids in their formula. To use vinegar to remove concrete paint, mix the vinegar with warm water. Then wipe the paint with the mixture and watch the paint fall off after a while.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda works for removing paints from concrete. Baking soda is a high-alkaline solution that will destroy paint particles. With paint particles destroyed and separated, the paint will lose its bond to the concrete.

You should mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in boiling water. Then pour the mixture on the paint and wait for an hour. When the surface gets dry, you’ll be able to pull the paint off of the concrete surface easily.

3. Pressure Washer

Pressure washers can help to remove paint from concrete. But, this method works best on water-based and unsealed concrete paints.

You should pick a pressure washer with a PSI reading between 2000 PSI and 4000 PSI. If the pressure reading is lower than 2000 PSI, the paint will not be removed effectively.

4. Heat Gun

A heat gun will remove water-based and oil-based paints from concrete. A heat gun is similar to a hairdryer but heat guns generate way more heat.

A heat gun can generate temperatures as high as 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the paint doesn’t stand a chance. However, be careful with heat guns as they can easily cause third-degree skin burns.

5. Muriatic acid

Muriatic acid can also remove paint from concrete. Muriatic acid is a mild acid that is strong enough to remove all types of paints from concrete materials. To do this, you’ll need to apply the muriatic acid to the paint and wait for it to be dissolved. This usually takes less than 15 minutes.

When the paint is dissolved, you can peel or wipe it off. You should ensure to wash off any muriatic acid residue on the concrete after removing the paint. If you don’t the muriatic acid can cause etching.

6. Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are solvents designed to liquefy or dissolve paint so paint thinner will work to remove paint from concrete. Much like solvents, paint thinner will dissolve and remove the paint from concrete. A good paint thinner for all types of paints is lacquer thinner.

7. Acetone

Acetone will remove paint from concrete because acetone is a natural paint remover. Also, the solvent is safe to use on concrete. Just apply the acetone on the concrete surface and wait for a few minutes for the paint to be dissolved.

Final Words

Overall, removing paint from concrete isn’t tough. Most people just find it difficult because they don’t know the right method or steps to follow.

But now you know these steps and you can easily remove any type of paint from concrete or teach a neighbor how to do so.

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