The Easiest Way to Get Dried Paint Off of Hardwood Floors

Is It Water or Oil-Based Paint?

Before you take out your tools and solutions, make sure to identify what kind of paint it is – water or oil-soluble paint. For you to identify, secure a cotton ball and dip that into your rubbing alcohol.

After, gently rub it to the paint-stained area and notice if residues are sticking to the cotton balls. If there is, then it’s a water-based paint, otherwise, it is oil-based.

Now, you’re done with the mystery challenge, and we can proceed with the methods.

Add Some Heat

Some types of paint, such as oil-based gloss enamel, cure to such a hard consistency that you may have trouble removing them with a plastic scraper. Instead of graduating to a knife, which may scratch the finish, try warming the paint with a hair dryer. Set the dryer on maximum heat and hold it about 3 inches from the paint for 10 to 20 seconds. After removing the heat, you’ll probably find that the scrapes off more easily. Avoid more powerful sources of heat, such as heat guns; they can damage the finish.

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How Can I Get It Done

Depending on how long the paint stain has been on the floors, can determine what products to use. Here are some basic steps to getting the job done.

  1. Prepare the floor-you should clean the floor area to remove any dirt, dust, and debris. This allows you to see the paint stains more clearly.
  2. Use a plastic scrapper-using a plastic scrapper can loosen the dried paint from the hardwood floor without damaging the floor. You can also use a hammer to tap the scrapper if the paint is very hard.
  3. Mild detergent or soap-use a mixture of soap and water and see how scrubbing this solution onto the paint works to loosen the stain. Use a damp cloth and wet the entire surface of the paint stain that you are scrubbing at the moment.
  4. Commercial products-only use a commercial product if the previous steps fail. Use a commercial grade paint remover and dap with a rag onto the surface of the paint. Then, wait about 15 minutes for the cleaner to work and see if the paint scrubs off.
  5. Alcohol pad-purchase some alcohol based cleansing pads from your local store. Use one at a time until the paint has removed or the pad has dried out. If the pad dries out, go on to the next pad, until the paint is removed.
  6. Paint thinner-ensure that all rooms are ventilated that you are using the paint thinner in. Then, soak a small portion of your rag into the paint thinner and use it to scrub the focused area of paint stain. Be careful not to use so much that the paint finish is not removed. You can also use mineral spirits. These products should be used as the last resort.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While we are on the topic of removing paint from wood floors, consider also learning about removing mold from carpet. Believe it or not, this is a possibility and when the time comes, you will want to know the best course of action.

Check your smoke detectors
Check your smoke detectors

Another area you can keep up with maintenance is to check all the smoke detectors in your home. If they are flashing red every 40-60 seconds, this usually means it is working fine. However, consulting the owner’s manual is a good idea. Also, it is important to keep up with the battery changes on this device.

Lastly, you may be proud of how clean you keep your home but while you are checking on things in the house, you may notice roaches. There may be food sources out that are attracting roaches and also your home may not be sealed shut as well as it should be.

Paint splatter on a hardwood floor
Paint splatter on a hardwood floor

How to Determine the Type of Paint

If you still have the paint cans, read the label to see whether it’s oil- or water-based (latex or acrylic). If you don’t have that information available, you will need to perform some simple tests to find out what type of paint caused the stain. 

To test the paint, take a cotton ball with a little bit of rubbing alcohol on it (you can also use an alcohol cleansing pad) and rub it on the paint spot. Look closely to see if any residue comes off the wall and stains the cotton.

If the paint leaves residue on the cotton ball, it is water-based. Oil-based paint will leave no residue.

This test is important because different paints require different methods to clean up. Using the wrong method will not only be ineffective, but it may damage your hardwood floor.

Once you know the type of paint, continue to the corresponding step in this guide.

Denatured Alcohol for Removing Old Hardwood Finish

Before you can re-apply a new coat for your hardwood floors, you need to remove the old coating using denatured alcohol. With that, grab a rag and dampen it with denatured alcohol. After, rub it to your hardwood floor and let the alcohol seep through for 15 to 30 minutes.

It will soften the old finish on your wooden floors, so it will be easier for you to brush or rub with a dry rag.

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3. Soak older paint stains

‘If the paint is older and cured it will be a little harder’, Sharp admits. However, with a little patience, you may still be able to remove it. ‘First put a warm water rag on top for a couple hours. This will help the water soak into the paint splotch and make it a little softer. Using your fingernail or a clean putty knife gently work around the edges to pry the paint drip off in one piece.’

If this step doesn’t work, ‘rub at the top of the paint drip with the wet rag. You will see the paint drip start to wear off into the rag and start to form a crater in the paint drip. Continue this back and forth and circular motion until the paint drip is gone.’

You may choose to mix in a little bit of one of the best wood floor cleaners to help dislodge the stain.

(Image credit: Beswick Stone)

Can I use paint thinner to get paint off a hardwood floor?

Dromgoole’s advice is that ‘paint thinner is to be absolutely avoided – Yes it can remove paint very easily but it can also strip away the finish on your hardwood flooring, it is an extremely harsh solvent.’

Use a Paint Removal Pad to Clean up Wet Paint Before it Dries

If you are painting a room with hardwood floors, the best thing you can do is be prepared for drips and spills. Protective sheets and a good painting technique are the best way to prevent any paint spots from happening in the first place. However, you may not be the one painting and accidents can always happen.

In case of spills, it is much easier to clean up paint while it is wet by using a paint removal pad

These cleansing wipes will absorb the paint and its residue before they get the chance to dry. Preparation is key — stock up on cleansing wipes at the same time you buy supplies for painting the room.

With the proper materials on hand, you will be able to prevent wet paint spills from drying up and becoming difficult to remove. The preparation is worth it to save yourself a headache later on.

Extreme Measures

Thin splotches of paint that have melded with the finish inside the grain are the most difficult to remove, and you may not be able to do it without scraping off some finish. If it comes to this, the best way to remove the finish is to use a pull scraper, running it along the grain to take off a thin layer. After all the paint is gone, spread a touch-up layer of finish over the affected area with a rag or paintbrush. If you scraped carefully enough to avoid exposing the wood, the repair won’t be noticeable when the finish dries.

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