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How to Get Paint Off Hardwood Floors in 4 Easy Steps (with Pictures)

scraping hardwood floor

Hardwood floors are praised worldwide, and people use them to add value to their homes and make them more beautiful. They are durable and can fit into any interior design. That’s why you should always keep them in good shape and maintain them adequately.

Of course, we will all stain our hardwood floor at least once in a lifetime, and that’s completely normal. But, do you ever wonder what you should do if you accidentally spray or pour paint on your hardwood floors? Or do you want to remove paint from previously painted flooring?

If you want to know how to successfully get paint off hardwood floors in just 4 easy steps, read on below!

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How to Get Paint Off Hardwood Floors (4 Steps)

1. Determine the paint type

paint cans
Image By: zivica, Pixabay

Before removing any paint stain, you need to be familiar with different paint types. That’s the only way to ensure you use a proper cleaning technique to remove the paint stain. There are three main paint types:

  • Water-based paint
  • Oil-based paint
  • Latex-based paint

Most paint cans should have an ingredient list on the back, so you should know which paint you’re dealing with. If nothing is written there, examine the color to try and verify its type.

2. Prepare the floor

mop and red bucket on wooden floor
Image Credit; vvoe, Shutterstock

Before the actual treatment, you’ll need to prep the floor for removing the paint. The area needs to be clean, so vacuum or mop the floor, and remove dust and dirt. Some cleaning methods might have toxic fumes, so put on a mask and gloves while removing the paint stain.

You’ll also need a scraper to finish the next step.

3. Scrape off excess paint

scraped wooden floor
Image Credit: Darius Sul, Shutterstock

When you have all the needed items and you’ve cleaned the floor, it’s time to scrape off excess paint. Use a scraper to gently scrape off leftover paint that’s built upon the floor. Ensure you do not press the floor too much to avoid possible scratching. Once there’s no more paint you can scratch, it’s time to start the cleaning process.

4. Treat the area

male hand wiping hardwood floor
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

The solution you should choose for the treatment will depend on the paint type. Before you turn to chemicals, it’s better to try some natural DIY remedies that might do the trick.

Of course, you can always choose chemical solutions if natural ones do not work. Below you can see some of the best methods for removing paint from hardwood floors, based on the paint type of the stain.

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Treating Different Types of Paint

Water-based paint

For treating water-based stains on your hardwood floors, try out some of these methods:

Soap and water

Mix lukewarm water with mild soap and use the mixture to clean the paint stain with a damp rag. Once the paint loosens up, use a dry rag to wipe off the rest of it. This simple remedy doesn’t have any harmful substances, which is why you won’t damage any sections of your hardwood floor.

Rubbing alcohol and lemon juice

Rubbing alcohol and lemon juice is an excellent combination for cleaning water-based paint stains. It’s a bit more damaging to the floor than the water and soap mix, but it’s very effective. You should mix one part of lemon juice with three parts rubbing alcohol and soak the paint stain with this solution. Leave the solution for 5 to 10 minutes and gently rub it off in circular motions.


Another way of removing water-based paint from hardwood is sanding. It’s not harmful to the floor, but it is a tedious, tiring process. If you choose this method, it’s best to use an electric sander and combine sandpapers of different grits. Begin with softer sandpapers with around 60 grit, and slowly transfer to harder sandpapers until you get to 120 grit.

wiping wooden floor with white cloth
Image Credit: Kelly Marken, Shutterstock

Oil-based paint

If you’re dealing with oil-based paint, some of the techniques we mentioned for water-based paint stains might work. Still, it’s better to try more adequate methods for removing oil stains. The most common ones are:


Turpentine is excellent at removing stubborn oil-paint stains from hardwood floors. Since it has a strong smell, always wear a mask while using it. It would also be convenient to open all windows in the room to allow better airflow. Gently rub the stain with a cloth soaked in turpentine. Be careful, though—if you’re rubbing too hard, you risk damaging the floor stain.

Heat gun

Oil-based paint also reacts to heat, which is why you can clean this paint-type stain with a heat gun. Use the heat from your heat gun to soften the paint, and scrape the paint off once soft enough. Do not overheat the floor so that the stain is not damaged. You can also use this method for water-based paints.

Paint remover

If nothing else helps, you can purchase a paint remover which will surely get the stain out. Simply follow the instructions on the paint remover bottle, and the paint stain should disappear. Paint remover can harm your hardwood floor, so do not apply it to the floor aggressively. This method should work for both oil-based and water-based paint stains.

wiping wood
Image Credit: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Latex-based paint

Paint stripper

There are paint stripers especially designed to get rid of latex-based paint. This type of product will remove a latex-based paint stain efficiently and quickly. They don’t necessarily need to be harmful to your hardwood floors, but it’s always good to choose a variety with the least chemicals.

Heat machine

Another excellent technique for removing latex-based paint stains is to use a heat machine. Hover over the paint stain with the heat machine to loosen and soften it. Once it’s soft enough, use a putty scraper to scrape excess paint from the hardwood floor. Before you begin the process, open all windows and doors to ensure the ventilation in the room is good.

Steam stripper

You could also use a steam stripper to remove these types of paint stains from your hardwood floors. Similar to the heat machine, the steam stripper will soften up the paint, and you can scrape the color off once it’s soft enough. It’s an excellent option for people who don’t want to use chemicals.

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Is rubbing alcohol going to damage hardwood floors?

Rubbing alcohol can damage hardwood floors, but it doesn’t always do that. If you are gentle while applying the rubbing alcohol, you shouldn’t have any issues. Also, if you mix it with lemon juice, as suggested in one of the cleaning options above, it will be milder and better for your hardwood floor.

What home remedies remove paint from wood?

There are a couple of DIY home remedies you could try out for stripping paint from hardwood floors. The most common ones are vinegar and baking soda. They are both very effective, and they won’t damage your floors which makes them very convenient. Also, most of us have both of these things at home, so we can start cleaning immediately as the stain occurs, which will allow us to remove it easier later on.

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As you can see, there are various ways you can get paint off hardwood floors. The most important thing is to know which paint type the stain is made from so that you can remove it quickly. We advise trying the non-chemical solutions first, but in case that doesn’t work, you can always try harsher treatments to get the stain out.

Featured Image Credit: Darius Sul, Shutterstock


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