How To Remove Paint From Wooden Floors: Water & Oil-Based Paints

The beauty, allure, and style that comes with having a wooden floor in your home are almost second to none. Wooden floors come in different designs, colors, and size variations which can give your home that natural ambiance you have been craving.

However, as stylish as wood floors can be, this type of flooring is not particularly stain friendly. Paint stains during home renovations or simple house projects can be very difficult to wipe off especially when the paint has dried off. If you have ever tried to remove paint off your wooden floor, then you already know how daunting a task it can be.

It can be really messy, time-consuming, and different methods can leave hideous effects on your floor like scratches and dents when you are done. It is advisable to clean the paint stains immediately it drops on your floor but what if you don’t notice the paint stain in time and it has already dried off?

Well, there are dozens of hitch-free ways to get old dry paints off your wooden floor. Luckily, you will learn different paint stain removal processes and the steps that accompany each process by reading this post, so let’s get to it.

How To Remove Paint From Wooden Floors?

What are the different types of paint?

Before we dive into the different methods of paint removal, we need to have a solid grasp of the common types of paint. This way, when you notice an old paint stain on your floor, you can easily identify what type of paint it is and more importantly, what type of paint removal process will best suit such a task.

Paint types can be generally grouped into two. These are water-based paint and oil-based paint. You might have come across different paint cans labeled as Paint sheen, Enamel, primer, and so on.

These are basically used for different reasons. For example, the primer is used so the paint sticks longer and the paint sheen is for a glossy or shiny appearance. 

  • Oily Paints: oily paints are commonly used on doors, walls, and exteriors. This type of paint is easy to apply and the painted surfaces are remarkably easy to clean. Oily Paints are characterized by their glossy or shiny appearance. You probably have an idea of this type of paint now as you might have seen it before or you have it in your home.The downside to oily paint is that it is very stubborn to remove when dry so if you are thinking of renovating your home using this type of paint, you might want to consider covering your floors.
  • Water-based paint: this type of paint is more common than oily paints based on its lower price. This paint isn’t as durable or fine as oily paint.However, what it lacks in terms of finish and durability, makes up for it in terms of removal. Removing this type of paint from your wooden floor can be as easy as just using soap and water.

What do you need to clean paint stains?

Now you know the basic types of paint stains you can have on your wooden floor. Before we move on to the methods of cleaning these paint stains, there are different materials you will need when using the paint removal methods that would be discussed.

Irrespective of the type of paint you are trying to remove or the method you are using, you will need the following:

  • Rags
  • Putty knives (preferably plastic ones)
  • Solvent
  • Latex Gloves (the chemicals, soap, and other paint removing substances can be really harsh on your skin so you need to put on gloves and disposable clothes that cover your limbs)
  • Scrubbing Brush
  • Face Mask (some chemicals when exposed to room temperature or applied on surfaces emit burning gases and vapor that can be toxic to your body if inhaled in large quantities)
  • Soap and water
  • Sander For Paint Removal

Just to put it out there, you might not need all the above mentioned tools but it’s advisable to have them close by.

As stated earlier, there are different and effective methods to remove specific paint stains from your wooden floor. Each method has steps involved in its usage so let’s take them one after the other.

How to remove water-based paints?

Cleaning with soap and water. This has to be the oldest method of cleaning just about anything and it works well for water-based paint stains. 

  • Step 1: Dampen the paint using a mild solvent. Turpentine might be your best bet. It is less aggressive and has more solvency when compared to some other solvents. If, you do not have access to any solvent. You can dampen the stained area with either warm soapy water, alcohol, or nail polish remover. Any of these would be suitable too. Most people will scrape right away without dampening the affected surface. While this method can work very well too, it is more prone to dents and scratches from your putty knife or blade.
  • Step 2: Use a putty knife to scrape off the paint. The reason for using a solvent or soapy water in step one is to ensure that the stained area is damp and the paint can be easily scraped off while using the putty knife, so you do not leave dents on your floor. Scrape off as much paint as you can with your putty knife.
  • Step 3: Use a rag or soft brush to gently scrub the area and use a damp cloth to clean after. Be careful not to use a brush that is too strong so as not to damage your floor.
  • Step 4: Wait for your floor to get dry and vacuum the cleaned area. Your wooden floor should be clean by now.
    However, if you have done these steps and still have some paint stain left, consider using a more aggressive solvent and rags to repeat the process above.

How to remove oil-based paint stains from your wooden floor?

Removing oil-based paint stains require more effort and care than water-based paints. You would be using relatively more aggressive chemicals or more sophisticated equipment than required with water-based paint.

People use different methods when cleaning up oil paint stains, but we would be discussing the two most effective ways and the steps involved using both methods. 

Using a paint stripper to remove oil paint stains. 

Most people are accustomed to using an aggressive solvent to take out oily paint stains. While the solvent would do a fine job taking out the paint stain, it can also dent your floor, especially wooden floors.

Aggressive solvents can lead to discoloration or cause dents on your floor, so we advise using a strong paint stripper instead. For this method, you will need your gloves, goggles, nose cover, a paintbrush, your putty knife, and of course a paint stripper. 

  • Step 1: Sand the area you want to work on. For this, you can use sandpaper or sander. This helps the stripper to be absorbed into the paint better. 
  • Step 2: Use your paintbrush to apply the paint stripper over the stained area and wait for the paint to start blistering off. This can take a few hours. 
  • Step 3: Take your putty knife and begin to scrape the paint off. You want to start with a smaller area then work your way in. 
  • Step 4: Clean off the surface with a damp cloth and Vacuum off the mess when it’s dry.

In case you do this and still have some stain left, you can apply the steps again. The stripper will protect your wood against any serious damage. 

Safety measures

There are safety measures when using any of the above explained methods, either on water or oil-based paint stains. 

  • Always use your gloves. Your cleaning liquids can be toxic if it comes in contact with your skin
  • Use a protective face mask and goggles. 
  • Do not scrub, wash, or scrape any surface too hard regardless of the type of paint you are working with. This can really damage your floor.
  • Always wash your hands when you are done. 
  • Do not be afraid of paint stains, it’s inevitable but attend to them almost immediately.

Follow these steps and you can be sure of having a good result after your paint removal process.

Learn More — How To Sand a Door? 

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