How to Remove Paint From Wooden Floors? (7 Methods)

Wooden floors are usually painted to beautify and protect the wood. But often, these paints start to chip and look boring. When this happens, how do you remove paint from the wooden floor?

The best way to remove paint from a wooden floor is to use a water-based or soy-based paint stripper. Water-based and soy-based paint strippers are strong enough to remove paints from wooden floors without damaging the wood material.

You can also use sandpaper but this usually works best for thin and water-based paints like chalk and milk paint. It’s not a good idea to use paint removing chemicals on wood as the chemicals can damage the wood.

Paint scrapers are also known to scar and cause gouges in the wood. Does this mean that you can damage wood while trying to remove paint? Let’s find out.

Can You Damage Wooden Floor By Trying To Remove Paint?

Can You Damage Wooden Floor By Trying To Remove Paint

You can damage the wooden floor by trying to remove the paint especially if you use the wrong paint-removal method or a solvent that is too harsh on wood.

Wooden surfaces are usually not hard or moisture-resistant. So if you use an aggressive paint removal method like sandblasting on the wood, the wood will get damaged.

Also, if you use harsh solvents like muriatic acid on wood, the solvent will penetrate the wood grain since wood is not moisture-resistant. This will cause staining, discoloration, and rotting of the wood.

1. Sandblasting

Sandblasting involves expelling sand or mineral rust at high pressure on the wood. This is an aggressive paint removal method that will surely damage the wood. If you sandblast wood, it might be impossible to paint or stain the wood later.

2. Using Acids

Painters commonly use mild acids to remove paint from surfaces like concrete, stone, and masonry. Wood doesn’t have the texture of these materials so you shouldn’t use any form of acid on wood. This includes undiluted vinegar, muriatic acid, or bleach. Using acid on wood will cause discoloration.

3. Using Chemical-Based Paint Strippers

Chemical-based paint strippers contain different paint-removing chemicals. While these chemicals will remove paint from wood, the chemicals can also damage wooden floors especially old wood or antiques. Chemical-based paint strippers are also rumored to cause splinters in wood.

4. Using Heat Guns

Heat guns are powerful heat-generating devices capable of generating temperatures as high as 1000 Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the wood can catch fire. The wood can also suffer burn marks making it difficult for wood stains and paints to stick to the wood material.

How To Know What Type Of Paint You Have On Your Wooden Floor?

You can know the type of paint you have on your wooden floor by using the water test. To do this, apply a few drops of water to the painted wooden floor. Then wait for a few minutes. If the water is absorbed by the painted wood, it means that the paint is water-based. If the water beads or isn’t absorbed, the paint is oil-based.

Water-based paint doesn’t have good water resistance so the paint will absorb moisture if left long enough on the paint. Oil-based paints however dry to a glossy topcoat that is moisture resistant. So the water you applied can’t be absorbed by the paint, unlike water-based paints.

You can also know the type of paint you have on wood by scraping the top layer on the paint with a razor or nail. If you see the paint come off on the nail or razor, the paint is water-based. Oil-based paint will not come off on the nail.

Instead, the gloss on the oil-based paint will come off. So the nail or razor will look shiny. You can also feel the texture of the paint. If the paint feels slick and glossy, it’s oil-based. If the paint feels dry and textured, it’s water-based.

Using the light test also works. You can shine your phone’s flashlight on the painted wood. If the surface looks shiny, the paint is oil-based. Water-based paints don’t reflect light or look shiny so the paint will look dull.

Sealed water-based paints especially those sealed with lacquer, polyurethane, varnish, and wood oils will have the same features as oil-based paints and should be removed the same way as oil-based paints.

Now, let’s check out how to remove paints from wooden floors.

How To Remove Water-Based Paints From Wooden Floor?

Removing water-based paint from the wooden floor isn’t difficult but the wood is more likely to get damaged if you use an aggressive method. This is because water-based paints don’t offer much protection.

Here are the top 3 methods to remove paint from wooden floor:

Method #1: By Sanding the Paint Off

By Sanding the Paint Off

The most common way of removing water-based paints from wooden floors is by sanding the paint off. This method involves using sanders to remove the paint from the concrete. Fine-grit sandpaper is commonly used for this as fine-grit sandpaper poses the lowest threat of wood damage.

This is why this method is more suited to water-based paints. To remove oil-based paint by sanding, you’ll need to use medium or coarse-grit sandpaper, and these increase the chances of wood damage.

Here is a guide on how to sand water-based paint off a wooden floor:

  1. Sweep and vacuum the floor to remove dust and filth on the wood
  2. Attach the right grit of sandpaper to the sander
  3. Plug-in the sander
  4. Set the sander speed to low or medium so you don’t damage the wood
  5. Sand the water-based paint off of the wooden floor
  6. Vacuum dust

Ensure not to press on the sander while sanding. Doing this will put too much force in the wood and create gouges.

Method #2: By Using a Water-based Paint Stripper

By Using a Water-based Paint Stripper

Water-based paint strippers also help to remove water-based paints from wooden floors. Since the paint stripper is water-based, it will not damage or discolor the wood. Soy-based paint strippers and some solvent-based strippers also work on wood but it’s best to reserve these for removing much harder oil-based paints.

For this method, the paint stripper will soak into and absorb the water-based paint. After, the paint stripping paste will get dry and hard. Then you can remove the paint stripper and the soaked oil-based paint.

Paint strippers also help to absorb oils and tannins on wood so this method also helps to degrease your wood.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Sweep and wipe the floor
  2. Apply and press on a few coats of water-based paint stripper on the painted wood
  3. Wait for the paint stripper to dry. This takes about 30 minutes.
  4. Scrape off the paint stripper and the absorbed paint with a paint scraper
  5. Reapply the paint stripper on any existing paint
  6. Wipe the surface after.

Method #3: By Using Alcohol-based Solvents

By Using Alcohol-based Solvents

Alcohol-based solvents are very effective at removing water-based paints as alcohol is a natural cleaner. The alcohol will break the bond between paint particles and the wooden floor. This will make the paint fall off or dissolve.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Sweep and wipe the wooden floor
  2. Apply and spread the alcohol-based solvent on the floor. Rubbing alcohol works.
  3. Wait for the paint to form bubbles and pores. This shows that the paint has been dissolved.
  4. Wipe the dissolved or loose paint from the wooden surface
  5. Clean the wooden floor to get rid of any residue.

Next, let’s check out how to remove oil-based paints from wooden floors.

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Wooden Floor?

How To Remove Oil-Based Paints From Wooden Floor?

Oil-based paints are much harder to remove from wooden floors because oil-based paints turn glossy and hard when dry. The glossy layer is usually moisture-resistant and impenetrable so it would take harsher solvents to remove the paint.

Here are the top 2 methods to remove oil-based paints from wooden floors. These methods have been tested to be sure they don’t damage your flooring.

Method #1: Using Solvent-Based Paint Stripper

Solvent-based paint strippers are stronger than water-based paint strippers so they can remove oil-based paints from wood.

For this method, the paint stripper will first dissolve the glossy sheen on the oil-based paint. Then the stripping compound will soak up the oil-based paint. When the paint stripper gets dry, you’ll be able to remove it with the soaked-up oil-based paint.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Sweep and wipe the wooden floor remove dust nibs and grain
  2. Prep the solvent-based paint stripper based on the manufacturer’s instructions
  3. Apply and spread two coats of the paint stripper on the oil-based paint
  4. Leave to dry. Solvent-based paint strippers take between 30 and 45 minutes to dry
  5. Use a paint scraper to remove the paint stripper and the absorbed paint
  6. Reapply the paint stripper on the floor if there is leftover paint.
  7. Clean the wooden floor after.

Method #2: Using Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner also helps to remove oil-based paints from wooden floors. Lacquer thinner is a powerful solvent used to dissolve and thin lacquer and other oil-based paints.

For this method, the lacquer thinner will penetrate the oil paint and break the bonds between the particles. This will liquefy (return to liquid state) the oil-based paint. With the oil-based paint in its liquid state, you can easily wipe it off with a rag.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Sweep and vacuum the wooden floor
  2. Apply lacquer thinner to the floor
  3. Wait for about 30 minutes for the paint to bubble up and change color. This shows the oil-based paint has been dissolved.
  4. Wipe off the paint with a rag
  5. Brush off leftover oil-based paint with a toothbrush and more solvent.

Next, let’s check out how to remove spray paint from wood.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Wooden Floor?

Like oil-based paints, spray paints are also difficult to remove from wood. The reason is that sprayed paints tend to penetrate porous surfaces like wood.

Spray paints penetrate better because the paint is expelled with tremendous pressure onto the wood. Since spray paints penetrate better, it means the paint has better adhesion, and it’s usually hard to remove such paints without any damage to the wood.

However, here are the two safest methods to remove spray paint from wood:

Method #1: Using A Grinder

Grinders are devices used to do a variety of jobs from cutting to polishing. But the device can also be used to remove spray paint from wood.

For this method, the disc on the grinder will spin rapidly on the wood. You should only graze the top layer of the wood with the grinder so only the paint comes off.

For paint removal tasks, the right type of disc is a wire brush disc.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Pick the right size of grinding disc. A 4×4½ disc would suffice.
  2. Attach the disc to the grinder
  3. Plug-in the grinder
  4. Graze the grinder over the painted wooden floor
  5. Remove leftover spray paint

The good news about grinders is that the device smoothens the surface as you grind. So in addition to removing the spray paint, your wooden floor will appear polished and smooth.

Method #2: Using Petroleum-Based Solvents

Solvents that are refined from crude oil or gotten from petroleum distillation will remove spray paints from wood and because they are petroleum-based, these solvents pose a very low threat of wood damage.

These solvents include Xylene, Mineral spirits, Toluene, and Turpentine. The solvent will soak into the spray paint and wood grain to dissolve the paint.

The good news here is petroleum-based solvents cause paint to bubble and tear after a while so the spray paint that penetrated the wood grain will also dissolve and can be ripped off the floor.

Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Sweep and wipe the wooden floor
  2. Apply enough amounts of mineral spirits or any other petroleum-based solvent
  3. Leave the floor untouched for about an hour
  4. Wait until the spray paint starts to bubble or get lumpy
  5. Remove the spray paint from the floor by ripping, tearing, scraping, or wiping it off
  6. Clean the surface to get rid of residue.

Next, let’s check out some popular products and see if they can remove paint from wooden floors.

Other Products That You Can Use To Remove Paint From Wooden Floor

1. Vinegar

It’s not advised to use vinegar in large quantities over wood. This is because vinegar is a mild acid and in large quantities, the acid concentration can damage the wood.

Since you are trying to remove paint from a wooden floor, you’ll obviously need a lot of vinegar that might damage the wood. So using vinegar to remove paint from the floor isn’t a good idea. However, you can use vinegar to remove small paint stains on wood.

2. Baking Soda

You can use baking soda mixture to remove paint from a wooden floor. To do this, mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with boiling water.

Then apply the mixture to the wood to remove the paint. You should know that baking soda is highly alkaline and reports have been made about baking soda causing the wood to age or look wrinkled and brown.

3. WD-40

WD-40 can remove latex and water-based paints from wooden floors but you should know that this works best for removing paints from slick surfaces like glass and tiles. If you are to use WD-40 on a porous material like wood, ensure to follow all guidelines.

4. Goo Gone

Goo Gone helps to remove paint from wooden floors but only if you use the Goo Gone Latex Paint Remover (or Clean Up Wipes). Goo Gone is also safe to use on wood but this works best for water-based stains.

5. Sandblaster

Don’t use any type of blaster on wood. It can be done but it’s not recommended and especially not in the home either. Stay away from sandblasting. There are far better and more effective methods to try out.

6. Scrape Paint Off

You shouldn’t scrape paint off of wood unless you have dissolved the paint first. When you dissolve the paint with solvent, the paint gets softer and you can scrape easily. If you try to scrape off dried paint from a wooden floor, you’ll create marks and gouges in the wood.

Final Words

Overall, removing paint from wooden floors isn’t difficult. You just have to pick the right method and tools depending on the type of paint that you have on the wooden floor. Ensure not to use aggressive or harsh methods as these will damage the wood.

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