How to Remove Paint From Concrete? (Oil & Water-based)

Most people believe removing paint from concrete is hard, but it isn’t. So, how to remove paint from concrete?

To remove paint from concrete, use a chemical-based or solvent-based paint remover. The paint remover will penetrate the paint coating and destroy the bond between the paint particles. Once the paint particles aren’t bonded, you can wipe the paint off the concrete surface.

However, the concrete paint removal method depends on the paint type. You can use soapy water for water-based paints, but for oil-based paints, you must use chemical-based paint remover.

This post reveals more about removing paint from concrete. It includes expert strategies to get paint off 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?

You must know the type of paint before trying to remove it. That’s because the type of paint will determine the paint removal method you will use.

1. Try To Remove The Paint

To know the type of paint the concrete has, wipe the surface with a rag (or cotton ball) soaked in alcohol. If the paint comes off on the rag, the paint is water-based. If the paint doesn’t come off on the rag, the paint is oil-based, or the surface is sealed. 

Rubbing alcohol isn’t capable of removing oil-based paints or sealants, and that’s why the paint doesn’t come off on the rag soaked in alcohol.

2. Use The Water Test

You can use the water test to know the type of paint the concrete has. To do this, put a few drops of water over the paint, and wait a few minutes. If the water soaks into the concrete, the paint is water-based. If the water doesn’t soak into the painted concrete, the paint is oil-based, or the concrete is sealed. 

3. Feel The Texture

You can also feel the texture of the finish to know the type of paint the concrete has. Run your fingers over the painted concrete. If the finish feels slick and glossy, the paint is oil-based. If the paint feels dry and textured, the paint is water-based. 

When dry, oil-based paints have a glossy and slick surface, while water-based paints have a dry and textured finish.

4. Light Test

Expose the concrete paint to a light source. You can use your phone flashlight. The paint is oil-based if the paint looks shiny (while directing the light to the finish). If the paint looks dull, the paint is water-based.

How To Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals?

How To Remove Paint From Concrete Without Chemicals?

To remove paint from concrete without using chemicals, scrape or sand the paint off. You can also use grinders.

However, these methods only work for water-based paints. That’s because water-based paints have a low sheen and no protective sealant, so the paint can be scraped off. However, oil-based paints, sealed concrete, and acid-based concrete paints must be dissolved with a solvent before scraping them.

Here’s how to remove paint without 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 onto 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.

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: Use Water-Based Paint Strippers

You can use water-based paint strippers to remove water-based, latex, and acrylic paints from concrete. 

You must apply the paint stripping paste over the painted surface. After the paint striper absorbs the paint, the surface gets dry and flaky. Once that happens, you can scrape the flakes off with a paint scraper.

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: Scrub the Paint Off

Water-based paint uses water as its solvent. So, if the water-based paint gets exposed to water (or moisture), the paint gets softer. You can remove water-based paint from concrete by dissolving it with soapy water, and then scrubbing it with a hard brush. 

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Wipe the water-based paint to remove the filth.
  2. Mix water and detergent in a clean bucket.
  3. Apply the mixture onto the surface. You can do this at intervals. 
  4. Wait until the water-based paint looks lumpy or till you see bubbles in the paint.
  5. Scrub the paint off with a hard brush.
  6. Wash and rinse the concrete surface.

Method #3: Scraping and Sanding

You can also scrape or sand the water-based paint off the concrete. 

To scrape, use a metallic putty knife and scrape most of the paint. To sand, use a power sander and sand the paint off. You must use rough sandpaper to remove the paint. 

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.

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Concrete?

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Concrete?

When dry, oil-based concrete paints have a glossy finish, making the paint hard and moisture-resistant. Since oil-based paints use oil as their solvent, the paint doesn’t dissolve in water. You must use solvents or a paint stripper for concrete to dissolve oil-based paint.

Tip: Before removing oil-based paints you must wear gloves and a mask. 

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

The solvent-based paint remover will dissolve the paint particles of the oil-based paint and soften the finish. Once the oil-based paint is soft, you can scrape it with a paint scraper. 

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Clean the oil-based finish to remove dust. 
  2. Prep the paint stripper by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Apply two coats of the paint stripping paste on the oil-based paint.
  4. Wait 1 hour. 
  5. Use a paint scraper to remove the paint stripper and oil-based paint.
  6. Re-apply the paint stripper if there is leftover paint.
  7. Remove the paint stripper residue with soapy water. 

Method #2: Using Petroleum-Based Solvents

Petroleum-based solvents are liquid formulas gotten from crude oil distillation. These solvents are potent enough to dissolve oil-based paints. The solvent will dissolve the glossy oil-based paint and make it easier to wipe it off. 

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Apply the petroleum-based solvent to 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. Re-apply the solvent to leftover paint.
  5. Brush the concrete surface.

You must clean, wash, and rinse the concrete to remove the petroleum-based solvent residue. If you don’t remove the solvent residue, the new paint coating won’t stick.

Method #3: Sandblasting

Sandblasting will remove oil-based and sealed paint from concrete. The sandblaster will expel sand (or mineral rust) at high pressure on the paint coating. The sand will remove the oil-based paint. 

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Wear a pair of goggles. 
  2. Fill the sandblaster. 
  3. Connect the sandblaster nozzle.
  4. Aim the nozzle directly on the concrete.
  5. Turn on the sandblaster and compressor.
  6. Do this about 3 times to remove all the paint.

Don’t use an industrial or large-size sandblaster to remove paint. These sandblasters are too powerful and will damage the concrete. Instead, for concrete surfaces, use a cabinet blaster or mid-range sandblaster.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Spray paints stick to concrete better because the paint is expelled at high pressure from the sprayer. This means the spray paint penetrates the surface deeply, and you must use a more effective method to remove it. Here are the top 2 methods to remove spray paint from concrete:

Method #1: Use a Sander

Use a palm sander, orbital sander, or a grinder to remove spray paint from concrete. Power sanders are aggressive enough to remove water-based spray paints from concrete without damaging it. 

Here is how to do this:

  1. Wipe the spray paint with a clean rag to remove dust and filth.
  2. Turn on the sander or grinder.
  3. Use rough sandpaper and sand the concrete with a sander in a circular motion. 
  4. Sanding produces a lot of dust. So, remove the dust and inspect the surface.
  5. If there’s leftover paint, sand again.  

You can manually sand small-sized concrete surfaces. However, for large concrete surfaces using a power sander is 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 and liquefy it. 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 dampened rag to wipe the spray paint repeatedly till the paint is wet.
  4. Wait 1 hour.
  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.

Other Things That Can Remove Paint From Concrete

1. Vinegar

You can use vinegar to remove paint from concrete. But, this works best for flat, satin, and semi-gloss paints. However, you shouldn’t use vinegar to remove oil-based paints. Also, don’t use vinegar to remove acid-based concrete paint because both products have acids in their formula. 

Here’s how to use vinegar to remove paint:

  1. Mix the vinegar with clean water.
  2. Damp a rag into the vinegar mixture. 
  3. Use the dampened rag and wipe the paint coating. 
  4. Wait a few minutes. 
  5. Once the paint starts to bubble (or peel off), wipe it off with a clean rag. 
  6. Remove the vinegar residue. 

2. Baking Soda

You can use baking soda to get paint off the concrete. Baking soda is a high-alkaline solution that will remove the bond between paint particles. Once the paint particles are separated, the paint will lose its bond to concrete, and you can wipe it off. 

Here’s how to use baking soda for paint removal:

  1. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in boiling water. 
  2. Pour the mixture into the paint coating. 
  3. Wait 1 hour. 
  4. Once the surface gets dry, scrape the paint. 
  5. Re-apply the mixture to leftover paint. 
  6. Remove the baking soda residue. 

3. Pressure Washer

You can use pressure washers to remove water-based or un-sealed paint from concrete. To remove paint from concrete, use a pressure washer with a PSI between 2000-4000. 

If you use lower pressure than 2000 PSI, you won’t be able to remove the paint. That’s because the pressure is too low to wipe the paint off. 

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, they can generate a temperature up to 1000 degrees. 

Once the paint is exposed to this temperature, it will start to bubble up and lose its bond to the concrete. Once the paint starts to bubble, wait a few minutes, and then wipe the paint off. 

However, you shouldn’t use the max temperature of the heat gun as you can damage the concrete. Instead, use a low-temperature of the heat gun or use a hairdryer. 

5. Muriatic acid

Muriatic acid is a mild acid that is strong enough to remove all types of paints from concrete materials.

Here’s how to use muriatic acid to remove paint:

  1. Apply the muriatic acid to the paint.
  2. Wait 15 minutes for the paint to dissolve.
  3. Wipe off the paint.
  4. Remove the muriatic acid residue.

The muriatic acid residue will cause concrete etching if you don’t remove it. 

6. Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are solvents designed to liquefy or dissolve the paint. So, you can use paint thinners to remove paint from concrete. You can use lacquer thinner for all types of paints. 

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 to the concrete surface and wait a few minutes for the paint to dissolve.

Final Words

Removing paint from concrete isn’t hard, but you need the right tools and guidance. In this post, we have explained 9 different methods on how to do it. 

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