How to Get Paint off Hardwood Floors (Dried, Latex, Painted)

Are you undertaking a DIY home restoration project and are looking to strip the paint off your hardwood floor?

Or maybe you’ve recently repainted your walls and ended up with dried paint spots on your beautiful hardwood floor. Maybe your kids spilled their artwork on the floor. Whatever the case, paint spots on a natural hardwood floor is unfortunate-looking at best.

Fortunately, if done right, getting paint off wood is not such a difficult task.

Below, we’ve got a detailed guide on how you can rid your hardwood floor of dried paint spots, and how you can strip old paint off painted hardwood floors.

How do you remove dried paint spots from hardwood floors?

The most appropriate method of removing dried paint spots off hardwood floors largely depends on the type of paint in question.

If the splattered paint on your hardwood floor is water-based, you can simply remove it using soap and water. Follow these steps:

  1. Apply a few drops of dish soap to a wet towel and then use the towel to rub the dried-up paint stains.
  2. You should repeat step one for a few minutes until you’ve covered all the spots on your floor with splattered paint spots.
  3. Finally, use a dry rag to wipe off the paint, which should now come off quite easily due to the previous application of soapy water to soak it up and dissolve it.

For non-water-based paints, you can opt for paint thinners.

However, this should only be used as a last resort, as paint thinners are known to be highly chemically-reactive solvents that can have a negative effect on hardwood floors.

How to Remove Paint from Painted Hardwood Floors

If you live in an older home with the characteristic wide, painted hardwood floor boards, you might need to refinish the floor every few years just to spruce it back up to its original aesthetic.

Effective refinishing entails proper preparation — part of which includes sanding — to prep the hardwood floor surface and ensure maximum adhesion for the new finish.

To properly remove old paint off your hardwood floor by sanding, follow the steps below:

  1. Acquire an electric sander. These can be bought or rented.
  2. Sand your hardwood floor boards until they’re uniform, starting with a 60-grit paper followed by an 80-grit and a 120-grit paper. The coarse, 60-grit paper is meant to get rid of old paint coatings, while the finer 80-grit and 120-grit papers  remove any sanding marks left behind from the initial sanding.
  3. When sanding, ensure you go through the spaces between the boards as well.
  4. When you’re done sanding, apply a protective sealant to the floor.

How Do You Get Paint off Hardwood Floors Without Sanding?

Paint removal by sanding should only be reserved for restoration projects on older homes with hardwood floors that have thick layers of paint.

To remove paint off your hardwood floor, there are simpler, cheaper alternatives that don’t involve sanding.

Remember, sanding is a messy time-consuming process that doesn’t always provide the desired aesthetic results, and should therefore be avoided wherever possible.

What’s more, hardwood floors in older homes can only be sanded and refinished so many times, as sanding gradually eats up the wood material.

To get paint off your hardwood floor without sanding, follow the steps below:

  1. Utilize a plastic scrapper to get off as much paint as you can off the floor.
  2. Create a cleaning solution by mixing up a small amount of lemon juice with about three times as much rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use an old toothbrush and your solution to remove any remaining paint off the floor.
  4. Depending on the quality/brand of the old paint being removed, step three above may have to be redone several times.
  5. Finally, rub the surface with a piece of cloth.

For thick, oil-based paint, the best paint removal alternative would be to use a hair dryer instead of a lemon juice and rubbing alcohol mix.

This can be achieved by following the steps below:

  1. Set the temperature settings on the hair dryer to the maximum level.
  2. Use the hair dryer to heat the paint directly from a distance of about three inches, for about 10 minutes. High heat minimizes the adhesion of oil-based paint to wood surfaces.
  3. Finally, use a plastic scraper to remove the paint off the hardwood surface.

How do you Remove Latex Paint from Hardwood Floors?

If you’ve got dried up latex paint spots on your hardwood floor following a wall repainting project, you can remove them using solvent.

Follow these steps:

  1. Purchase a good quality latex paint removal solvent. It must be a latex paint remover, as any other type of solvent won’t get the job done.
  2. Apply some of the solvent to a rag, then use the rag to scrub the paint and leave the hardwood floor surface as is for a while. This will soften the paint.
  3. You can then apply rubbing alcohol and then use a plastic scraper to remove the now-loosely attached paint layer off your hardwood floor.

Alternatively, you can remove splattered latex paint off your wood floor by using denatured alcohol and following the steps shown below:

  1. Apply some denatured alcohol to a piece of old cloth.
  2. Use the cloth to thoroughly wipe the wood floor surface. This will help to dissolve tough latex paint stains. Ensure you constantly reapply the denatured alcohol as it evaporates rather fast.
  3. You can then scrub the floor using a non-abrasive scouring pad.

Will acetone remove paint from hardwood floor?

Yes, if you are looking to remove paint from your hardwood floor, acetone can be a useful cleaning agent to use. However, care should always be taken when using cleaning products on your hardwood floor, to ensure that it is not going to cause any damage. 

To use the acetone, we would recommend that you place a small amount on an old rag, or a cotton swab or pad. The amount that you need, will all depend on the amount of paint that is present on the hardwood floor. Even so, we would recommend that you only use a small amount to test this product.

You will then want to place the swab, pad, or rag onto the pain stains on the hardwood floor. You do not want to rub the paint straight away. Instead, you will want to allow the acetone to soak into the paint. This will help to break down the paint. 

After a few minutes, you can then gently scrub the pain stains, and the acetone should help to lift them. Once completed, we would recommend wiping down the hardwood floor with some clean water and a rag.

Will paint thinner ruin hardwood floors?

When it comes to using paint thinner on hardwood floors, this should be avoided where possible. This is because it is likely going to damage the hardwood floors significantly. While you may find that it is okay to use in very small amounts, it is not always worth risking. 

If you need to remove paint from hardwood floors, there are many other methods that are a far safer option to try first. We would recommend trying other cleaning products first. In addition to this, paint thinner cannot be used with paint that is water-based. 

Paint thinner is something that should be used sparingly as a last resort due to how harsh it is. If you do need to use it, you will want to open the windows in your house, and wear gloves, to protect yourself. 

You will only want to use a small amount of the paint thinner, and place this onto an old rag. You will then want to scrub the area of the hardwood floor where the paint is present with the rag a few times. Furthermore, you do not want to do this too roughly. After a short while, you should start to notice the paint lifting.


Getting paint off hardwood floors using incorrect techniques can badly damage your valuable investment.

If you find it difficult to do yourself, consult a specialist to do it on your behalf.

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