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 wooden floor?

Or maybe you’ve recently repainted your walls and ended up with dried paint splatter on your beautiful hardwood floor. Maybe your kids spilled their artwork and you’re looking to remove paint stains off wood floors. Whatever the case, paint splatters on a natural hardwood floor is unfortunate-looking at best.

Fortunately, if done right, removing paint stain from wood is not such a difficult task.

In this article, we’ve given you a detailed guide by WFC Wood Floor Cleaner on how you can clean paint off your wood floors of dried paint spots, and how you can strip old paint off painted wood floors.

The most appropriate removal methods of dried paint splatter off wooden floors largely depend on the types of paint in question.

If the splattered paint on your wood floor is water-based, you can simply remove it using a bit of soap, water, and rags or paper towels. Follow these tips:

  1. Apply a few drops of dish soap to a damp rag and then use the rag 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 excess paint, which should now come off quite easily due to the previous application of soapy water to soak it up and dissolve it.

To remove oil-based paint or other non-water-based paints, you can opt for paint thinners or a paint stripper for wood floor paint stains.

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 wood floors.

Let’s Get Started with the Removal Process

If you live in an older home with the characteristic wide, painted wood floorboards, you might need the help of someone 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 wood floor surface and ensure maximum adhesion for the new finish. Before you begin any project, be sure you have gathered all of the equipment you need, such as cleaning materials and tools.

To properly clean off old paint from your floor by sanding, follow the steps below:

  1. Acquire an electric sander. These can be bought or rented from a hardware store.
  2. Sand your wood floorboards until they’re uniform, starting with 60-grit sandpaper followed by 80-grit and 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 or scratches left behind from the initial sanding.
  3. When sanding, ensure you go through the crevices between the boards as well as all the way to the edge at the baseboards.
  4. When you’re done sanding, be sure to sweep or run the vacuum cleaner over the entire floor, followed by a damp rag to remove any dirt or dust. Be sure the moisture has had time to dry then apply a protective sealant to that portion of the floor.

How to Remove Without Sanding?

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

To take off paint from your 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, wood floors in older homes can only be sanded and refinished so many times, as sanding gradually eats up the wood material.

To get stubborn paint stains off your wood floor without sanding, follow the steps below:

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

For thick, oil based paint stains, the best paint removal alternative would be to use a hair dryer or heat gun 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 hairdryer to the maximum level.
  2. Use the hairdryer to heat the paint directly from a distance of about three inches, for about 10 minutes. High heat from the heat gun minimizes the adhesion of oil-based paint to wood surfaces.
  3. Finally, use a paint scraper or plastic putty knife to remove the paint residue from the hardwood surface. For cleaning large areas, a pull scraper may be more effective.

How do you Remove Latex?

If you’ve got dried-up latex paint spots on your wood floor following a wall repainting project, you can remove them using a 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 solvents to a rag, then use the damp rag to scrub the paint and leave the floor surface as-is for a while. This will soften the paint.
  3. You can then apply isopropyl alcohol and then use a scraper or putty knife, preferably plastic, to remove the now-loosely attached paint layer off your wood floor and watch the magic happen.

Alternatively, you can remove 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 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 or cleansing pads.

Will Acetone Work?

Yes, if you are looking to remove paint from hardwood floors, acetone can be a useful cleaning agent to use. However, care should always be taken when using cleaning products on your hardwood floor as there are still chemicals in cleaning products, 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 ball, swab, or pad. The amount that you need, will all depend on the amount of paint that is present on the wooden floor. Even so, we would recommend that you only use a small amount to test this product.

You will then want to place the cotton swab, pad, or rag onto the paint stains on the wooden surfaces. 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 paint stains, and the acetone should help strip off the paint spills. Once completed, we would recommend wiping down the wooden floors with some clean water and a rag or pads.

Will paint-thinner ruin hardwood?

When it comes to using paint thinner on wood floors, this should be avoided where possible. This is because it is likely going to damage the floor significantly. While you may find that it is okay to use in very small amounts in areas in your room, it is not always worth risking using these things. Nothing is worse than finding out the hard way.

If you need to remove paint from wood floors, there are many other methods that are a far safer option to try first. We would recommend trying other types of paint removers 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 your hands.

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 surface 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.


Cleansing a paint stain off wood floors using incorrect techniques can badly damage your valuable investment. Removing paint stains is not always the easiest- there are oil-based paints, water-based paints, as well as latex paints. When it comes to trying to remove paint from wood, we recommend using DIY natural home remedies before opting for commercial paint removers, as chemicals are still present in these commercial products. These chemicals could damage your floor as well as emit potentially harmful fumes.

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

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