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How to Remove Paint From Concrete

How to Remove Paint From Concrete

Concrete is porous, making it prone to stains and spills. The same is true in terms of paint smear. It’s not easy to remove paint from concrete, whether it’s on the garage floor or the patio.

Regular rinsing may be sufficient if the paint is still wet, but you’ll need to bring out the big guns to remove dried paint. It also depends on the type of paint that has been applied to the concrete. However, you can eliminate this issue with the right equipment and techniques.

How to Remove Paints From Concrete

The go-to method is using paint strippers, pressure washing the surface or soda blasting. Other than that, it is recommended to use chemicals or specific paint removal products.

Initial Preparation for Removing Paint

Before moving into the cleaning process, it is better to prepare yourself for a better outcome.

Initial Preparation for Removing Paint

Wear Safety Gears

Always safety gear like a hard hat, rubber gloves, glasses, kneepads, and mask before starting the procedure. While using the flammable method, make sure the area you are cleaning is well ventilated.

Use only tools that you are familiar with. Hazardous chemicals are present in equipment such as the soda blaster. If you don’t have the expertise, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Clean the Surface

It doesn’t matter which method you use. The first step is to always clean the concrete surface from dust and debris. Get a nylon brush from your local hardware store with soap or detergent / Dish soap. 

Any cleaning product will generally do the trick as the goal is to clean the surface and eliminate any chipped paint. Use a scraper if necessary.

Removing Paint From Concrete Using Chemicals

Strip the Paint With a Paint Stripper

Strip the Paint With a Paint Stripper
Credit: The DIY Grunt

Paint strippers are full of chemical substances that help in dissolving paint on bricks and concrete. You can find environmentally responsible brands with methylene chloride in the product.

This chemical will be highly effective for removing paint but are also very dangerous to our skin and respiratory system. Please make sure you use proper gloves, goggles, and masks.

Steps:

  1. Clean the concrete surface from any dust debris or chipped-away paints. 
  2. Wash the lather on the surface with a power washer or normal water.
  3. Apply the paint stripper to the paint surface. Please follow the manufacturing specification while determining the application and volume of the product to be used.
  4. Leave the paint stripper on for the stated number of hours by the manufacturer. The hours will generally range from 3 to 8 hours.
  5. Scrub the area with a nylon brush. The paint should start peeling off. Make sure there is no paint left on the concrete.
  6. Wash the site with your pressure washer and let it completely dry.
  7. If there is still paint residue left, repeat the process.

Combination of Chemicals and Absorbent Materials

This concoction is dangerous, so proper gloves, masks, kneepads, and safety glasses are advised. The paste will get the paint out of the concrete. 

Creating the Paste:

  • Mix an ounce of Trisodium phosphate with a cup of water, absorbent material, and paint stripper. Mix it in for a minute; it should form a thick paste. Not only paint, but TSP can also remove rust stains from concrete as well.
  • You can use cat litter and talc powder as absorbent materials or buy them at a hardware store. If you plan on using the cat litter, make sure it is grounded into a powder first.

Steps:

  1. Apply the paste to the painted concrete. Try applying a thick layer of around half an inch and leave it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Use a scraper to scrape off the paste of the concrete. The paint should start coming off with the paste.
  3. Do a second coat if necessary.
  4. Scrub the area completely with a nylon brush.
  5. Rinse the area or pressure wash (recommended) the concrete.

Dissolve the Paint With Muriatic/ Hydrochloric Acid

Dissolve the Paint With Muriatic Acid

Be careful while using muriatic acid. Undiluted hydrochloric acid can be damaging. Use rubber gloves, glasses, graduated thick containers, and wire-brained tough brushes. Remember to pour acid into water, not the other way round.

Steps:

  1. Dilute ¼ cup of muriatic acid with 2 cups of water in a thick container. Spread the solution little by little over the paint, don’t pour it, and let it set in around 5 minutes or so.
  2. There will be bubbling on the surface. Use a nylon scrubber and start scrubbing. The paint should start coming off.
  3. Rinse or pressure wash ( recommended) once done.

Remove Paint From Concrete Without Hard Chemicals

You can utilize various tools and equipment to get rid of paint from concrete.

Grind the Paint Layer Away

grinder-removing-paint-from-concrete
Credit: B.K. Williams

Using a grinder is very effective for removing paints from concrete. A diamond grind wheel, walk-behind grinders, or angled handheld grinders as rentals from our local hardware shop can do the trick. A 4-inch diamond cup wheel should be enough. If there is confusion about grit, ask the store attendant to provide the necessary grit attachments. 

Note: It must be a diamond grit cup wheel or sandpaper.

Grinding removes a layer of concrete. So, if you have a paint job on the top layer of the concrete, it will remove the whole layer.

Be sure to rinse the concrete once the grinding is done. After it dries, repeat the grinding process for areas where you can see paint. For beginners, a normal room floor might take an hour or two to grind away.

Pressure Wash the Paint

Pressure Wash the Paint

It is recommended to get a power/pressure washer ready. You can get it for rental at local hardware shops. Pressure washers will minimize your effort by more than 50 percent, and the results will be fast for cleaning and rinsing. The added force of water will take out any chips of paint left.

You do not want to spend the whole day scrubbing and rinsing when you could have done it much faster. In the worst-case scenario, at least get a garden hose ready.

A pressure washer removes paint from the concrete provided it has enough pressure and flow rate. You can get one from our local hardware store as a rental. Consider the steps below for maximum efficiency. Pressure washing is applicable for concrete floors, walls, etc.

Steps:

  1. You will be offered 40, 45-degree nozzles. Skip all that. Use a 15-degree nozzle.
  2. Depending on the paint’s stubbornness, wash it from 12 to 18 inches in proximity or less.
  3. Try spraying in a downward and sweeping motion.
  4. Use a power washer of at least 3000 PSI and a flow rate of a minimum of 4 gallons per minute. If possible, get higher pressure, even better.

If you still can’t get it off. The best option is to try the paint stripper option stated above; if you have issues with harmful chemicals, try the option below.

Soda Blast the Paint (Professional Help Recommended)

Soda Blast the Paint (Professional Help Recommended)

Soda blasting is a process where you use a blasting unit that sends pressured sodium bicarbonate solutions to a surface. Please note that this is not the regular use of baking soda in our homes.

You will need industrial-grade sodium bicarbonate and a blasting unit from your local hardware store. Follow the instruction of the blaster unit to use it. You can find these blaster units in hardware rentals.

Always blast the paint from about one to two feet away and ensure the blasting is done uniformly. This method is good for large areas. Due to the material’s high PH levels, the industrial-grade is toxic to plants and our respiratory system. A proper mask is compulsory.

Sandblast the Paint (Professional Help Recommended)

Sandblasting is of a similar modality to soda blasting. The difference is that sandblasting, as the name suggests, uses sand sent with pressure. You can find the blasting unit for rental through hardware stores.

Note that the crystalline silica used in sandblasting is very dangerous to our respiratory system and skin. Blast the paint away from one or two feet away. Make sure the blasting is done uniformly over the surface. Multiple concentrated bursts may damage sections of the floor.

Eliminating Various Kinds Of Paint

There are a variety of paints that can be spilled on concrete. The method for vanishing them varies as well.

Removing Spray Paint

There are plenty of spray paint-specific removers in the market. Some brands in use are Goof off, Klean Strip, Jasco, etc. The prices for these products range from $8 to $30. Some of these have toxic chemicals, and some don’t. The average work time is around 2 hours. 

Epoxy Paint Eliminating

Epoxy paints are a bit hard to remove as it supposed to create a bond with the concrete for a lifetime. Try using chemical solvent solutions like Acetone or lacquer thinner. If it is still not enough, the best method is blasting the paints away with soda or sand. The hail mary method is to grind the epoxy paint away.

Latex Paint Removal

Latex paints, on the other hand, are water-based, making them easier to remove. Household ammonia, Acetone, or WD40 can also be a thinner solution.

If these do not work, opt for the paint strippers. If the latex paint hasn’t been cured yet, it is best to use alcohol on a rag and splotch it on the painted area. Scrub it with detergent/ soap later on. It takes weeks for these paints to cure.

Vanishing Acrylic Paint

There are plenty of specific acrylic remover solutions found in the market. For alternatives, the Trisodium phosphate combination, muriatic acid, and paint strippers will work too.

Oil Based Paint/Water Based Paint Removing

Paint strippers, TSP combination, Muriatic acid, Pressure washing, and blasting should all work for oil-based paints. There are also specific oil paint removers found in the market. You can get it easily at your local hardware store.

Water-based paints are easier compared to oil-based ones. You can try strippers, pressure washing, vinegar solutions, or baking soda blasting them.

Will Vinegar Remove Paint From Concrete?

You can remove paint from concrete with vinegar at home. Distilled vinegar is a homemade solution to help you get rid of the paint. It is necessary to follow the right procedure below to make it happen.

Steps:

  1. Clean the concrete surface and remove dust, debris, or chipped-away paint.
  2. Heat the vinegar in a stove pot or microwave it. Do not boil it completely; make sure it is hot.
  3. Use a sponge or brush and apply the vinegar to the paint. Scrub the concrete with vinegar to make sure the surface is saturated.
  4. Leave the vinegar to settle for around 12-20 minutes. You will notice bubbling, indicating that vinegar reacts with the paint. If it hasn’t bubbled, apply some more vinegar.
  5. Use a scraper and start scraping the surface. The paint will begin to come off.
  6. After you have ascertained no traces of paint left, rinse the surface completely with water and let it dry.

Can You Use Bleach to Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Using bleach to remove spray paint from concrete surfaces is not recommended. Bleaches are most likely to stain and leave deposits on the surface.  

Instead of bleach, try specific graffiti cleaners found in the market. They are specifically made for spray paint. Plenty of brands like Goof off, Jasco, and Keanstrip provide graffiti removers.

Try the Trisodium Phosphate combination above or grind the surface to remove the paint for a tougher method.