How to Remove Paint from Concrete – 4 Usable Methods

Removing paint from concrete is not an easy task. It doesn’t matter if it is new or old, or and whether it’s a thick intentional coat or simply a small accidental spill.

It can also really matter what kind of paint you’re dealing with. Matte based and gloss based paints related problems have to be attacked differently, as do different types of oil paint.

It really depends:

If you’re working with spray paint on concrete or trying to remove acrylic paint from the a concrete surface. They are very different compounds and react differently.

Having done both I know:

It depends a lot on what you have at your disposal and tools you use.

How to get paint off concrete with chemicals is very different from how to remove paint from concrete without chemicals.

And the good news?

Today I am going to share with you my experience on how you can do this without too much sweat, and from my experience, occasional tears!

Read on to find out how you can get this job done in the least stressful and arduous manner.

Getting Started

red-paint-splattered-concrete

There are plenty of reasons you may need to remove paint from a concrete surface.

Perhaps it’s an old floor that was painted over. Or maybe you’ve been victim to accidental spills on concrete areas (argh!).

Other issues could include deliberate acts such as gang tagging or graffiti where someone thought they were simply being “creative” with outdoor concrete as their medium.

Whatever the case, you’re trying to get back to where you started. And then, apply some protection, if you don’t want this to happen again!

What’s the Root of the Problem?

But why is paint so difficult to remove from concrete? We all know that paint sticks to nearly everything it touches, including clothes, walls, tables, skin, etc.

It’s so much worse with concrete than on many other surfaces.

Why?

Well, it’s because concrete is porous and easily absorbs paint. Trust me; I have messed this up before, and now I know!

Given the ease with which paint penetrates concrete, it is not an easy task to remove paint from it. But it is not impossible.

Of course, it is easier to remove if the concrete had been sealed before being exposed to the paint. But this is not always the case; I feel your pain.

And when it is not, even after thorough removal, the paint can leave some of its color.

Also, the size of the job can depend greatly on how big a space you are removing paint from.

This matters:

Are you removing paint from a whole floor that was painted decoratively, or are you simply removing a few splashes of paint that were carelessly left after painting the walls?

How Do I Remove Paint from Concrete?

brushing-paint-spots-off

What are the best methods for stripping or cleaning paint off concrete? Well, in my experience, there are four main ways to remove paint safely from concrete with having to hire a cleaning or construction professional.

Let me share them with you:

The first method involves chemical paint strippers, the second DIY paint strippers, third soda blasting, and fourth using a power washer.

Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages. And choosing one depends greatly on the job in front of you.

If you’ve tried some simple mineral spirits to no avail, then one of these other methods is for you.

But, the most consistently reliable method regardless of the specifics of the situation. For me, it’s all about the chemicals that provide you the easiest and quickest solution overall. This is true for both indoor and outdoor concrete. I do like it best for exterior concrete though.

Steps for How to Remove Paint from Concrete

Here’s what you might need depending on which way you go:

  • Peel Away Heavy Duty Paint Remover

  • Paint Scraper

  • Dumond Laminated Paper

  • Pressure Washer

  • Heat Gun

Now, that you’ve decided on the chemical paint stripper method, it’s time to get started. But how do you get started with how to get paint off concrete?

What’s the process?

There are a few steps that should be followed, and you should be prepared for a few hours of hard work.

Once this took me two days to get through, but that was before I had done it with the required knowledge.

It will make sense to you as we move along, so don’t worry about losing two days like I did! I will walk you through each step of the process clearly.

Getting Ready

First, you need to get prepared. This begins with assembling all of the supplies, starting with your chosen paint stripper.

How Do I Pick a Paint Stripper?

There are a wide variety of decent chemical paint strippers on the market. Most companies that sell or produce paint also make their own paint thinner products.

Be specific:

If you know what kind of paint you’re removing, it is best to use a stripper specifically designed for it. For instance, water-based paints are removed differently than oil-based ones.

But, when in doubt, use a paint thinner designed for oil-based paint.

Paint remover for concrete

For me, it’s best to invest in Peel Away Heavy Duty Paint Remover. It’s relatively cheap, easy enough to get ahold of, and consistently does the job.

It also works relatively well regardless of what kind of paint you are dealing with.

What Else Will I Need?

Next, you will need to grab a sturdy paint-scraper, a scrub brush (a wire brush works best), and protective gear for yourself, including goggles and waterproof gloves.

You will also need some laminated paper products. I recommend Dumond as in my experience it is so much better than the rest.

Once you have all of your supplies, it’s time to prepare the space.

First, since you are using chemicals, it is best to make sure that the space is properly ventilated by opening a window or bringing in a fan.

What About Prepping the Space?

Depending on the space and how dirty it is, this could be as simple as sweeping and quickly scrubbing the area with soapy water, or it could be a much more difficult process.

It’s also a good time to scrape away or break apart any paint with a stiff brush that may be loose or easy to remove.

Once the concrete is clean, you have to let it dry. Let it sit for about 24 hours. And then it is time to get started.

The Removal Process, Step by Step

Spread or spray the Peel Away past on the paint that you would like to remove. You will want to apply the paint remover rather liberally.

Next, cover the Peel Away with Dumond Laminated Paper. This will control the evaporation of the paint.

Once it has been applied, you need to let the paint stripper set. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

When the Peel Away has set, it’s time to remove the paper and attack the paint. For this, you will have to get on your hands and knees and start scraping away with your paint scraping tools.

If the paint is coming off relatively easily, you can switch to a thick brush.

If it is not coming off very well at all, remove what you can and start the process over.

Be aware:

Sometimes it takes several applications of stripper to deal with particularly stubborn paint stains.

When you are finished removing all of the paint, you will need to clean the space again. It’s best to do so with a hose and some dishwashing soap.

What About Alternative Methods?

As I said above, there are a few other methods to remove paint from concrete, particularly for those that would like to avoid using potentially harmful chemical products.

DIY Paint Stripper

To begin with, instead of buying a professionally made paint stripper, you can make your own more absorbent version. It is a particularly good method for tougher spots and stubborn paint residue.

The most common methods use clay and cat litter as absorbent material. All you have to do is mix some store-bought stripper with your chosen material to make a paste.

Once you have your do it yourself paint striper, you can apply it to the paint as you would any other stripper.

As the material dries, it soaks up the paint, making it easier to scrape off. Depending on the mixture, this can take anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours.

getting-paint-off-concrete-wall

If you have a large area such as a painted garage or basement floor or concrete wall, a heat gun can come in handy to help speed up the process.

Soda Blasting

Soda blasting is best for large spaces where scraping paint off can be time consuming and laborious.

To do this, you will need a soda blaster, which can be bought online or you can rent a more professional blaster type from a big box hardware store. You will need to be sure to get the correct type of sodium bicarbonate for the blaster.

To soda blast, you hold the nozzle of the machine close to the ground and move it around the painted area so that the paint comes off evenly.

Be sure to remove any plants or fauna from the area as the high pH soda will damage them. And be sure to wear a protective mask so that you don’t inhale too much of the stuff yourself.

Similar to blasting unwanted paint off you can also try sanding your concrete down with the proper materials. Of course, this will affect the surface of your concrete as it will remove more than just paint.

Power Washing

powerwashing-concrete-surface

Power washing is a relatively simple, easy, and environmentally friendly route, but it is also one that only works on less stubborn or more recent paint stains.

You will need a power washer with particularly high water pressure to wash away and chip at the paint. You will have to go over the surface several times, I have been there, but it is worth it!

How Do I Prevent Concrete Paint Stains in the Future?

The best advice for preventing a concrete paint stain in the future is simply making sure that all concrete spaces in your home are properly sealed.

Sealing concrete is a relatively easy process and can ease many future headaches.

But before you can apply the sealant, you have to make sure that the concrete surface is smooth and clean.

From my own experience:

If the surface is uneven, the sealer will be applied unevenly and ineffectively. It will allow dirt and other debris to get trapped under the sealant.

Once I had to start again from scratch after making this mistake. It’s an error I never made again after that ordeal!

Removing paint from sealed concrete is not a completely easy process, but it is a much preferable one to removing paint from unsealed concrete..

Trust me:

In addition, if you decide to paint concrete, doing so properly can make any possible future removal of the paint a much easier process.

This video was a life-saver for me when I had to do this, check it out!

Paint that has been applied incorrectly is much harder to remove.

Other Considerations/Related Info

Many of the techniques used to dissolve paint can also be used to remove other adhesive substances on any number of absorbent materials. We’ve all dealt with grease stains or even rust stains, but the other obvious case here is glue.

What’s the Difference Between Glue and Paint?

Paint itself is mostly just glue and color, so it stands to reason that the process of removing the two items would be similar. In paint, the binding entity (that is, the glue) is spread relatively thin.

On the surface, you would think this would make the paint easier to remove than standard glue. In some ways, you would be correct.

On the other hand:

Other chemicals present in paint can counteract this theory. Also, as this paint is a thinner substance, it soaks more easily into porous surfaces such as concrete.

What Product Can I Use to Remove Glue?

Of course, in the case of removing glue from concrete, you can not use Peel Away or any other substances designed to react with paint.

But what will you use?

For this, I recommend Goof Off Professional Strength Remover. Goof Off is good quality for the price, and it really does the job.

What Are the Differences in the Removal Process?

adhesive-paint-remover

Basically, the process is almost the same. But as glue is usually thicker and raised more above the concrete, there is more room for applying brute force. Here are the steps in short.

Scrape Away Any Glue That You Can

As I mentioned, glue is thicker. So get at it, hit it with your paint scraper. Even use a razor blad to peel away any loose paint. Get as much up if you can. If you’re lucky, you might even finish the job with this step. If not, you will need to sweep away what is left and move on to the next step.

Use Boiling Water

Pour boiling water over the glue and let it sit for one or two minutes. Using a water solution is cheap, easy to find, and toxin-free. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a go.

The water solution should heat and sometimes even melt the glue. This will make it easier to remove, making it time to get back to step one.

Go Straight to Your Goof Off Adhesive Remover

If the water and scraping methods fail, you want to get out your Goof Off. The method for applying Goof Off is roughly the same as that of applying Peel Away.

You need to apply the spray, let it sit for a few hours, and then get back to step one. You will need to be sure to protect yourself by opening a window and wairing protection.

FAQs

Is Paint Stripper Toxic? How Can I Protect Myself While Using It?

It depends on the paint stripper chosen.

They can range in levels of toxicity, but as a rule, it is generally best to make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated space and wearing proper chemical resistant gloves and safety goggles for eye protection.

That being said, Peel Away Heavy Duty Paint Remover is water-based and has no harmful odors or fumes, making it safer and easier to use.

Still, it should be kept away from children and pets as it can be deadly if ingested.

Always, always keep warm water handy to quickly rinse any spills.

Does Paint Stripper Damage the Concrete Underneath? What If There Is an Underlying Stain That I Do Not Want to Remove?

It depends on the type of stain or stainer used as well as on the paint stripper used. Generally though, if remover is applied carefully and deliberately, underlying stains are not damaged.

This is certainly the case with Peel Away. That being said, it is always best to start with a small test area to be sure.

Can You Simply Apply a New Layer of Paint Over Existing Paint Instead of Removing It?

Paint is best applied to a clean, smooth surface. Simply painting over old paint very rarely allows for this optimal surface and, as a rule, results in uneven, unattractive paint.

So, even if your intention with the surface is simply to apply a different or new paint, it is best to thoroughly remove the old paint first.

In Summary…

Removing paint from concrete is not an easy task, but with the right tools and the right attitude, it is a very achievable one. You should now know how to get paint off concrete, phew!

No matter the situation, whether it’s stubborn spray paint or oil paint you’re trying to get out, there is a solution, with or without chemicals.

While there are many different methods, the most consistent, tried, and true method lies in using chemical paint remover.

And while it does require a little elbow grease and hard work, getting paint off of concrete is a relatively straightforward process that can be achieved by even a newbie to do it yourself.