How to Remove Paint from Wood Floors

Updated: Oct. 05, 2023

If you or someone else has accidentally gotten paint on your wood floors, your next DIY project is removing that paint. Learn how to remove paint from wood floors by following these trusted tips.

how to remove paint from wood floorsNatalia Shvedova/Shutterstock

Wood floors can be beautiful and warm underfoot, and they are relatively easy to care for. However, if you or someone else has accidentally gotten paint on your wood floors, your next DIY project is removing that paint. Learn how to get paint off wood floors by following these trusted tips.

What Would Brad Do?

We wondered, what does an experienced DIYer do when faced with paint on a hardwood floor. We asked Family Handyman editor Brad Holden what he would do if he encountered paint on a wood floor. He said he’d go straight for a putty knife. If the putty knife was new, he said he would file down (round over) the sharp edges to reduce the likelihood of damaging the floor. According to Brad, if you work carefully, you can gently pop most paint splatters off the floor with a putty knife and move on to your next project.

So, let’s say you’re not confident that you can wield a putty knife and remove the paint without scratching your wood floor. That’s okay! Keep reading.

What Kind of Paint is It?

If you’re trying paint-removal methods other than the putty-knife pop-off, the first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of paint you’re trying to remove. Is it water-based or oil-based? If you’re unsure, try this simple test recommended by Dunn Edwards Paints. Wet a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe it over the paint. If any residue comes off on the cotton ball, then it’s water-based paint. If nothing comes off, then it’s oil-based. Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re trying to remove, then get started with one of these methods.

Ever wonder if higher priced paint is worth it? The answer is yes, and here’s why.

How to Remove Water-Based Paint from Wood Floors with Soap and Water

For dried water-based paint, start with good, old soap and water. Color Trends Painting suggests you mix warm water with a mild soap and begin scrubbing off the paint with a dampened rag. The paint should loosen, allowing you to wipe it away with a dry rag. If it needs an extra bit of oomph, carefully use a putty knife to scrape off the paint, and, of course, be careful not to damage the surface of the floor.

Keep your hardwood floors clean the natural way by following these tips.

How to Remove Water-Based Paint from Wood Floors with Rubbing Alcohol

The trick to making this work is allowing time for the rubbing alcohol (aka isopropyl alcohol) to do its magic on water-based paints. Carefully scrape off as much of the paint as you can with a putty knife, grab a rag, dip it into a mix of 3 parts rubbing alcohol, 1 part lemon juice. Cover the paint with the solution and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, scrub off the paint with the rag. Use a brush (toothbrush-size or larger) if the rag isn’t getting the job done. Wipe the area with a clean, water-dampened rag and you’re done.

Remember that replacing your wood floors is can be a DIY project. Make that process easier by following this guide.

Buy rubbing alcohol now on Amazon.

How to Remove Paint from Wood Floors with a Heat Gun

Using one of our favorite heat guns is one way to soften paint so you can remove it from your floor. It’ll work on both oil-based and water-based paints and all it takes, according to the Spot Removal Guide, is to point the heat gun at the paint, and, at the same time, scratch the paint away with a putty knife. Then wipe over the floor with a damp rag for the final finish. Be very careful that you don’t heat the paint for too long because you can damage the wood floor’s finish. If you’re nervous about damaging the floors, use a hair dryer instead of a heat gun.

Take care of any scratches on the floor at the same time by following these fix-it tips.

Buy a heat gun now on Amazon.

How to Remove Paint from Wood Floors with Paint Remover

If you’ve tried all the above paint removal methods and nothing has worked, then it’s time purchase a product to remove the paint, according to Spot Removal Guide. Goof Off Paint Splatter is the go-to product here. It’s safe to use on your floors and is good for oil- and water-based paints. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Here are 10 things you should never do to your wood floor.

Buy Good Off Paint Splatter now at The Home Depot.

How to Remove Oil-Based Paint from Wood Floors with Paint Thinner

Ok, no really, if none of the above methods work to remove paint spills, and you know the paint is oil-based, it’s time to try paint thinner. Open up windows and get a fan going in the area to keep it well ventilated (this odorless paint thinner is another option). Dip a rag into the paint thinner and rub it on the paint until it’s gone. Be careful you don’t rub too vigorously because you could damage the floor’s finish.

If a part of your wood floor gets damaged, here’s how you can patch it.

Buy paint thinner now on Amazon.

Buy odorless paint thinner now on Amazon.

How to Remove Wet Paint from Wood Floors with Cleansing Pads

We’ve covered how to remove dried paint from your wood floor. Now, what if you get wet paint on your wood floor during a painting project? First, be sure you don’t let it dry, because it’s much easier to get it off when it’s wet.

If you’re dealing with fresh paint on your wood floor (whether it’s water- or oil-based), surface-safe paint removal pads are the answer. Buy the pads now so that when you’re working on your next interior painting project, they’ll be close by to clean up any paint spills on your wood floors before they can dry!

Follow these painting tips and tricks to keep your next painting project neat and tidy.

Buy paint cleansing pads now on Amazon.

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