How to Remove Latex Paint From Wood? (Explained!)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Latex paint dries fast and is easy to remove. So, how to remove latex paint from wood?

To remove latex paint from wood, use acetone or soap, sandpaper, or a paint-stripping compound.

Can You Remove Latex Paint Without Damaging The Wood?

You can remove latex paint without damaging the wood as the paint is water-soluble and will get washed off from products that don’t harm the wood surface. 

To prevent wood damage, use natural paint removers, such as water, dish soap, vinegar, or baking soda. Natural paint removers will remove latex paint but won’t damage the wood.

Medium-grit sandpaper (100-grit) will remove latex paint and won’t damage the wood. The sandpaper will improve the wooden surface by removing imperfections and bumps. 

Note: Avoid using harsh paint removers as they can damage or discolor the wood.

How To Remove Latex Paint From Wood?

To remove latex paint from wood, do the following.

  1. Use Acetone or Soap.
  2. Use Sandpaper or Power Sander.
  3. Use a paint stripper.

This guide will show you how each method works and when to use them.

1. Use Acetone or Soap

Dissolve The Latex Paint Off Of The Wood

To remove small latex paint stains, use acetone or soap mixture. Acetone is a paint remover and will dissolve water-based paints. A soap mixture (soap and water) removes small and wet latex paint stains.

Simply, apply acetone or soap mixture over the paint, wait a few minutes, and wipe the paint off with a microfiber cloth.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • Dish soap
  • A bucket of water
  • Microfiber cloth or a soft sponge
  • Clean rags
  • A bottle of acetone
  • A clean bowl

To remove latex paint with acetone or soap mixture, do the following things.

  1. Inspect the finish to see if it’s wet or dry.
  2. For wet paint stain, apply soap mixture over it.
  3. For dry paint, apply acetone over it.
  4. Wait a few minutes (5-10).
  5. Use a microfiber cloth or soft sponge to scrub the paint off.
  6. Clean the wood with a dampened rag and leave it to dry.

Here’s a list of other products that can dissolve latex paint.

2. Use Sandpaper or Power Sander

Sand The Latex Paint Off Of The Wood

Sandpaper or power sander will remove latex paint from wood and improve the wooden surface by removing imperfections and bumps.

Use medium-grit sandpaper (100-grit) as it’s stronger and will remove the paint faster. Avoid fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit) as it isn’t strong (coarse) enough to remove paint, and coarse-grit sandpaper (40-grit) as it’s too strong.

Sanding works by using the abrasive side of the sandpaper to gradually wear the latex paint off the wood. While doing this, the imperfections and gouges will also get removed from the wood.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • Sandpaper or sanding block (120-grit to 220-grit)
  • A pair of gloves
  • Rags
  • A power sander (optional)
  • A vacuum or duster

To use sandpaper to remove latex paint, do the following things.

  1. Wipe and clean the surface to remove dust.
  2. Sand the wood with 150-grit sandpaper.
  3. Inspect the surface every 5 minutes to see if the paint is removed.
  4. After sanding, remove the dust and sand again with 180-grit sandpaper.
  5. Remove dust.
  6. Finish up with 220-grit sandpaper and clean the wood.

3. Use a Paint Stripper

Use A Paint Stripper

To remove multiple latex paint coats use a paint stripper. The paint stripper works by softening or dissolving the paint, making it easier to scrape.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • A paint stripper
  • A paintbrush
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Rags
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sandpaper

To use a paint stripper to remove latex paint, do the following things.

  1. Remove dust from the surface that can prevent the paint stripper effect.
  2. Apply two coats of paint stripper using a paintbrush or putty knife.
  3. Wait 30 minutes.
  4. Scrape the paint stripper off the surface (the latex paint will come off too).
  5. Re-apply the stripping compound over the leftover paint.
  6. Wipe the wood with mineral spirits.
  7. Remove the residue of the mineral spirit with water.
  8. Allow the wood to dry before sanding it with 220-grit sandpaper.

How To Remove Latex Paint From Hardwood Floor?

To remove latex paint from hardwood floor, do the following things.

  1. Use a Floor Sander.
  2. Use Homemade Paint Remover.

It’s harder to remove latex paint from hardwood floors as the surface is larger and you can accidentally remove the glossy finish of the floor. You must re-apply the glossy finish or replace the plank if you remove it. This will be time-consuming and expensive.

1. Use a Floor Sander

To remove latex paint from large hardwood floors use a floor sander. The floor sander removes paint the same way manual sandpaper does, but it does it faster and more efficiently.

The hardwood floor must be 0.75 inches or thicker to sand it. If the floor is thinner than 0.75 inches, don’t sand it as it will damage it.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • A random orbital sander
  • A mop
  • 120-grit to 220-grit sandpaper
  • A floor buffer
  • A vacuum
  • Hardwood floor polish

To remove latex paint from hardwood floor with a floor sander, do the following things.

  1. Mop the floor to remove loose particles, debris, and dust.
  2. Attach 80-grit sandpaper to the bottom of the random orbital sander.
  3. Move the power sander over the paint and sand gently — don’t apply pressure.
  4. Replace the sandpaper with 120-grit sandpaper and continue until you reach 220-grit.
  5. Inspect the floor to see if the paint is removed.
  6. If it is removed, remove the dust with a vacuum.
  7. If there’s still paint on the floor, sand it again.

2. Use Homemade Paint Remover

The common homemade paint removers that remove latex paint from hardwood floors are listed below.

  1. Baking soda and dishwashing detergent.
  2. Rubbing alcohol.
  3. Vinegar mix and salt.
  4. Rubbing alcohol and lemon juice.

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Damp a rag with the homemade mixture.
  2. Use the dampened rag to wipe the affected surface.
  3. Wait 10 minutes.
  4. The homemade mix will dissolve the latex paint.
  5. Wipe the paint off with a soft microfiber cloth or mop.

Note: This method works for wet latex paint too.

Other Products To Use:

  1. Paint Thinner – Paint thinner contains active solvents such as alcohol and methylene chlorine that can remove latex paint. However, don’t leave the paint thinner on the wood for more than 10 minutes, as it can damage it. It’s recommended to use it only when removing multiple coats of paint.
  2. Vinegar – Vinegar will remove fresh paint from wood but won’t remove multiple dry coats. It can only soften dried paint, making it easier to scrape it off.
  3. Baking Soda – Baking soda is an absorbent and can absorb wet or fresh latex paint from a surface. However, it can’t remove dry paint.
  4. Rubbing Alcohol – Rubbing alcohol is a natural paint solvent that will remove multiple coats of water-based paint.
  5. Mineral Spirits – You can use mineral spirits to remove small latex paints on wood. But, you can’t use it to remove multiple coats of paint.
Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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