Remove Paint From Hardwood Floor

wood floor with paint

Does your home improvement project leave you wondering how to remove paint from hardwood floor pieces? Buying an older home provides plenty of fixer-up projects, some expected and others a bit more of a surprise. If you plan to strip carpeting from your older home to restore the natural look of hardwood floors, you may run into paint speckled floors or even floorboards coated in old paint.

Removing Paint Speckles

How you remove paint from hardwood floor slats may depend on how fresh the paint is. For old speckles, the best approach is a graduated method. Try to avoid chemicals or abrasives and start with milder cleaning agents first because they are less likely to damage your wood floor. Use very hot water, but remember that water causes wood to expand. Don't let water soak into your floor or you risk raising the wood grain. In fact, water applied to hardwood floors for too long may even buckle the floor.

Here are some options to try for removing the paint, starting with the least invasive:

  • Putty knife -- On newer paint speckles, gentle use of a putty knife will usually lift the flecks of paint but not harm the floor's finish.
  • Mild cleaning agent - Dissolve a handful of TSP (trisodium phosphate) in warm water. Using a Scotch-Brite pad dipped in the cleaning solution, scrub the paint specks. This process often takes a few tries.
  • Paint thinner - If paint specks don't come up with the mild cleaning agent, you may have to resort to paint thinner applied with patience and a lot of elbow-grease.
  • Acetone or lacquer thinner - When all else fails, you can try acetone or lacquer thinner to remove those paint splatters, but understand that this may dull or mar some hardwood floor finishes. It's best to test in a corner or other out-of-the-way part of the floor to see what the effect is.

If paint speckles are fresh latex paint and the floor has a good finish, hot water and dish soap will often soften the paint enough to wash it off with a cloth. For stubborn spots, use a plastic scrapper to avoid damaging the floor's finish.

Using Heat to Remove Paint From Hardwood Floor Panels

Another trick to removing paint from wood floors is to use a heat gun. This is another time-consuming method that softens the paint so it can be lifted with a putty knife. However, high heat can damage floors, so test your heat gun in a corner or out-of-the-way area and avoid using the highest setting. Once the paint is removed, wipe the floor with a wet towel.

Paint Removing Products

Products designed to remove paint from hardwood floors are another option, but be sure to read directions and warnings carefully before applying these products to your floor.

  • Goo Gone Painter's Pal - Removes latex paint, spills and paint splatter.
  • Oxalic acid - Dissolve three tablespoons in a pint of water, apply and then rinse. Be sure to apply in a well-ventilated room.
  • Krud Kutter - The product can be purchased at Home Depot and works to remove paint and makes a good general cleaner too.
  • Goof Off - Apply with a cotton swab on paint drops. This may damage the floor's finish.

When using paint removal products indoors, use a face mask and work in a well-ventilated room.

Using a Sander to Remove Paint

In some cases, it will be necessary to rent a sander to remove paint from your floor. A sander can be rented from your local home improvement store. A sander is a powerful tool, and if you've never used one you could end up with swirls or uneven-looking markings that you'll have to deal with before you can finish your floor.

Sanding is a dusty project, so wearing a face mask prevents fine dust and paint particles from getting into your lungs. After completing the rough sanding, sweep and clean up the dust. This helps to see how the floor looks and where further sanding is necessary.

To get a smooth finish, use a handheld sander in the final stage. This is a time-consuming process and you may want to consider hiring a professional if sanding is necessary to remove paint from your hardwood floors.

When you've finished, the hard work will be worth it as you stand back and enjoy the natural beauty of your hardwood floors.

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Remove Paint From Hardwood Floor