how to remove paint from wood floor

How to Remove Paint From Wood Floors – Everything You Need to Know

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Removing paint from wooden floors can be a simple job. What you will need is a process that combines the correct technique with a good product and the job is done. In this article, we will describe the best method to use of how to remove paint from wood floors, how to remove paint from hardwood floors without sanding and other wooden surfaces as well as the best products to use to get the job done.   



Removing Paint From Wooden Floors

The first thing you need to do before you start removing paint from wooden floors is to ensure that the wooden surface area is thoroughly clean and free from any residue, dust, or dirt. Once that has been done, you will now need to discover if an oil or water-based paint stain was previously used on that wooden surface.

So, how can you discover what type of stain it is? All you need to do is to take some cotton wool, dip it into some alcohol, and wipe a small surface of the wood. If the stain comes off on the cotton wool the previous paint stain is water-based, if it does not come off on the cotton wool then it is an oil-based stain. As soon as you have successfully ascertained what stain you will be removing, it is time to begin to remove the old paint stain from your wooden surface.

how to remove old paint from hardwood floors


How to Remove Water-Based Paint Stains

There are two simple methods to use when you want to remove a water-based paint stain from your wood. First, try using soap and water if that is not successful then try using rubbing alcohol.

For the first option, wash the wood surface off by using a damp cloth, soap, and water. Try not to scrub too hard as you may damage the wood. When it comes to more persistent stains, use a flat knife to lift the paint off. Once the stain has been successfully removed allow the wood to dry completely before you carry on with anything else.

The second option, take some rubbing alcohol, also referred to as isopropyl alcohol, to remove the water-based paint stain. Mix to a ratio of 3:1; three parts of rubbing alcohol mixed with 1 part of lemon juice. Spread onto the wood surface and leave on for five minutes. Now take a clean cloth and just rub the old paint stain off.

Tip: If you find a stubborn stain, you can use is a nylon brush or an old used toothbrush to scrub the old paint stain off. After scrubbing the floor wipe off the wood surface and leave it to dry.


How to Remove Oil-Based Paint Stains

Removing oil-based paint stains requires a lot more effort and is not as simple as a water-based stain. If the paint is dry use a putty knife and slowly and gently scrape the old paint stain off, try not to scratch the wooden surface during the process. If the paint has become hard and brittle try using a hammer on the putty knife to pry off the stubborn old paint stain, also be careful not to damage the wooden surface.

The old paint stain can land between the floorboards or seep into some cracks. You then need to use a certain kind of tool called a ‘pull scraper’ which will help in this situation. However, if after all this you still find some suborn stains remaining, make use of a heat gun or even a hairdryer. Set the heat gun or hairdryer on high and keep it about 3-inches away from the surface. Keep it like this for around 20 to 30 seconds but no longer, as the heat may cause damage to your wood. Now take your putty knife and scrape off all the softened paint stain.

You can also make use of some denatured alcohol like ethanol or methylated spirits to help remove old stubborn paint stains. Pour some of the spirits onto a clean cloth and wipe the wood surface, and leave it to stand for about five minutes. You can now scrub the stain off using a brush and clean using a cloth. The wood surface must then dry thoroughly.

remove paint from wooden floor



The Best Wood Paint Stain Removers

For this article, we have selected the three best wood stain strippers that are available and have given you the disadvantages and advantages of each one.


Best Overall Value: RESTORE-A-DECK Wood Stain Stripper

This amazing RESTORE-A-DECK Wood Stain Stripper used together with their RESTORE-A-DECK Wood Brightener improves your wood surface. Both the brightening and stripping solutions consist of biodegradable concentrates that assist in restoring the surface of your wood.

RESTORE-A-DECK Wood Stain Stripper
  • Removes most coatings (clear. semi-transparent, semi-solid)
  • Powdered formula makes 5 liquid gallons when mixed
  • Can be mixed stronger or weaker depending on the finish
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This stain stripper will be able to remove an old paint stain easily and quickly, and will also be able to remove any mildew, dirt, or mold. Then you can apply the wood brightener which will help to remove any tannin stains and rust. This will then neutralize and brighten the wood surface.


  • For tougher stains, you can mix a more concentrated ratio
  • Provides excellent coverage
  • Is eco-friendly
  • When wet does not interfere with staining
  • Can be used effectively for most projects


  • Cannot remove paints, thick acrylics, solid color stains, or polyurethane
  • Can be harmful to your health

This wood stripper is excellent in removing most water and oil-based stains. It also offers you strength, affordability, and versatility. By applying this product, you should experience great results.


Premium Choice: WOODRICH Wood Cleaner & Wood Stripper

This product is intended for use on really tough stains and will be effective on weathered or new wood surfaces. The WOODRICH Extreme Solutions product is specially formulated with a buffer that is intended to protect the wood’s natural oils and other ingredients, and so maintaining the rich, fresh, and beautiful appearance of the wood.

WOODRICH Extreme Solutions Heavy Duty Wood Stripper
  • Removes semi-transparent and solid deck stains and sealers
  • Safe for use on all types of wood
  • Great value for money - offers 3000 square feet of coverage
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This product is climate-friendly and is not hazardous. Its formulation is designed to remove even the most weathered and toughest oil-based paint stains with the greatest of ease. The WOODRICH Extreme Solutions Stripper can strip most sealers and semi-transparent stains and will also be able to remove mildew, deadwood, and mold, plus many other forms of grime and dirt.


  • Mixing the stripper and brightener gives you the best results
  • Effectively removes old paint, mold, dead wood, mildew, and much more
  • Eco-friendly
  • Is effective when applied to weathered wood
  • Does not contain any harmful chemicals
  • Excellent coverage with up to 3000 square feet of wood


  • Unable to remove solid stains
  • Fairly expensive

This product formulation gives heavy-duty strength to tackle any tough stain and restores your wood surface fast.


Best Budget: FLORIDA LABORATORIES Oxalic Wood Stain Remover

The FLORIDA LABORATORIES Stain Remover contains a 99.6% pure oxalic acid raw material formulation and is a great deal stronger than Acetic Acid. To use this product all you need to do is dissolve it in a little hot water and apply it to the wood surface. Then using a brush, scrub it over the entire wood surface. When you mix the crystals in the water it will appear colorless.

FLORIDA LABORATORIES Oxalic Wood Stain Remover
  • 99.6% pure oxalic acid raw material formulation
  • Removes rust, wood stains, and more
  • Deck, crystals, and metal cleaning
View on Amazon

Be careful when using this product as it is a highly concentrated acid formulation and can be harmful to your health. The space you work in must be well-ventilated. You must also wear protective equipment, like gloves, mask, and goggles. This product is recommended for use by professionals, as it does not contain any clear manufacturer’s instructions. Other uses for this product are sterilizing equipment, bleaching clothing, and bleaching straw hats and leather.


  • Can remove all kinds of stains
  • By mixing it yourself you can adjust its strength
  • Fairly cheap
  • Laboratory grade purity


  • Hazardous when used near children or pets
  • Dangerous for the inexperienced user

Alternative Ways to Remove Paint From Wooden Floors

Besides the above, there are a few alternative methods when it comes to removing paint from wooden floors. These include using paint thinner and cleansing pads.

how to remove paint from hardwood floors


Remove Paint From Wooden Floors Using Paint Thinner

How to remove paint from wooden floor using paint thinners? This method is to be used as a last resort, as paint thinner could cause damage to the hardwood floor surface. As many of you know, paint thinner also has a strong smell, so you will have to open some windows and make sure there is air circulation while working. To help with lifting the paint edges, you can use a toothpick or maybe some tweezers.


Remove Paint From Wooden Floor Using Cleansing Pads

The cleansing pads have an alcohol base and also contain acids which then aids in breaking down a paint stain. Take the cleansing pad and rub it over the wood surface quite hard. Once the pad feels dry you can throw it out and carry on with a new pad.

When you are working with a paint stain, it is always better to remove paint from wooden floor if it has spilled straight away before it dries. Keep some soapy water handy to wipe away while you are busy, preventing future problems. Remember, you should always work with gloves as protection.



Eco-Friendly Ways to Remove Paint From Wood Floors

A lot of people are moving towards eco-friendly methods, so why not try a few eco-friendly methods that can help to remove paint from wooden floors. Not only is it safer for the environment but for you as well.

clean before removing paint from wooden floors


Eco-Friendly Solvent Paint Stain Removers

When you consider eco-friendly products, they should meet certain criteria. There should be zero noxious fumes, less energy is required, and it must be biodegradable and safe for the environment. When it comes to these types of stain removers, you can also save some money, as they last longer and are usually re-usable. For example, acetone evaporates slowly when compared to other products, and, therefore, its shelf-life is much longer.

Linseed oil is also a great natural way of removing paint stains. Place some oil onto a rag and apply to the surface and wipe away. For the more persistent stains, a putty knife can help to lift the stain off. Sanding will also help to remove stains, start with using a 60-grit paper, and then move onto 80-grit sandpaper, then a 120-grit paper. The finer sandpaper helps to get rid of any sanding marks.

When purchasing a paint stain remover, look out for the ingredient methylene chloride. A paint stain remover with this can be hazardous to work with, as it can produce lightheadedness, give you chemical burns, and can be the source of eye fatigue. So, always be aware of what is in the product you are buying.


Citrus-Based Paint Removing Products

These are excellent at removing paint from wooden floors. You can easily remove layers in one simple application. There is no methylene chloride, it is non-caustic, has a pleasing smell and you can use it indoors.


Removing Paint from Wooden Floors Using Soy Gel

This is a type of gel-like paint remover and is non-toxic, produces low amounts of fumes, and is biodegradable. Simply use a brush to apply to your wooden surface. The soy gel can easily be left on the surface for several hours, as it will not evaporate like other solvents.


Sandblasting Technique

Not everybody has a sandblaster, but you can rent one. This is an eco-friendly method; however, you need to get rid of any waste properly. The process can become difficult when dealing with wood, so you might have to get a professional in to do the job. Sandblasting helps to get rid of any paint and imperfections and can go so far as to expose the original wood surface. This method is also great for doing specific site repairs on the original floor planks.


Removing Paint with Boiling Water and Baking Soda

This is an easy method for pant removal; however, it can only be done on metal hardware. Place your item into the boiling water that also contains baking soda and leave it to boil for about 20 minutes. Remove any loose paint still on the item with a toothbrush.

The pot you use this method for should not be a pot you usually cook with. The trick behind this effective method has to do with the expansion rates of the paint and metal. Once these two components are heated, the bond they have breaks and the paint comes off.

sanding to remove paint from wooden floor



How to Remove Old Paint From Hardwood Floors

Sometimes it helps to know the tricks and tips when doing a paint removal job. So, here are a few tips we recommend you try on how to remove old paint from hardwood floors.


How to Remove Paint From Hardwood Floors

First, try to carefully scrape off the paint you can. Next, combine some alcohol and lemon juice in a ratio of 3:1. Rub this mixture on to the old paint and let it stand a few minutes. Then take a rag and clean the surface to get rid of the paint.

You can also sand the wood down to remove the paint. Begin by using 80-grit sandpaper carefully sand the surface, apply enough pressure so that you do not damage the wood. Follow this up with a 150-grit paper, then a 220-grit paper. Clean away any dust each time you change the sandpaper.


Cleaning Gaps in Wood Flooring

Dust and dirt can collect in the gaps of a wood floor. Simply use a vacuum cleaner to get into any hard-to-reach places. To prevent the vacuum cleaner from scratching the wood surface, you can place a small towel underneath it while you are vacuuming. Sometimes dirt can become hard, to loosen use a putty knife, and then vacuum. A steam cleaner could harm the wood surface, so it is not a good idea to use this.


Testing for Lead

Many older houses, those built before 1970, may have paint that still contains lead. This paint should be handled with the proper paint remover. So, to see whether the paint has lead in it, you should get a chemical testing kit to make sure.

tools for removing paint from wooden floors



Frequently Asked Questions


Can You Apply Vinegar to Remove Paint From Wooden Floor?

Yes, vinegar will remove a paint stain. Vinegar is excellent for those persistent paint stains and is an affordable alternative to chemical-based products.


Is it Possible to Remove Paint Splatters?

Yes, the easiest way to remove splatters is to take a putty knife or even a firm piece of cardboard and use the edge to scrape it off. Otherwise, try a damp cloth to remove the paint splatters.


Are There Natural Alternative to Paint Removers?

Mix these ingredients to create a natural paint remover: 500ml luke-warm water, 250ml ammonia, 250ml borax, and 250ml of washing soda. These materials are easy to get and once combined you will have a paste, which you then apply to your paint surface.


How to Remove Paint from Hardwood Floors without Sanding?

You will need to apply denatured alcohol with a cloth. When you have an oil-based stain, mineral spirits can be used, however, do not leave too long as this could damage the wood. Wipe the surface using clean water once the paint has been removed and leave to dry thoroughly.

Recommended solution:  Rubbing alcohol and lemon juice (3:1). Leave this mixture to sit for a few minutes and wipe away.


Are There Household Products That Remove Wood Paint?

Yes, you can use items like baking soda, nail polish remover, boiling water, vinegar, flour and soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a mixture of borax, ammonia, and soda. Apply, leave a few minutes, and clean with a cloth.


What Sanding Tools are Best as Paint Removers?

When sanding to remove paint, start with coarse sandpaper, 80-grit and move up slowly until 220-grit paper. You can apply by hand or try an electric sander. You need to use enough pressure to get rid of the paint, however, not too much that you cause damage to the wood. The finer sandpaper will help to remove any marks or scratches.


There are a number of ways to remove old paint from wood. Various products and techniques can be used depending on the type of wood, and specific conditions. We hope that this guide has prepared you to remove paint from your wooden surface. 


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