How to Get Paint Off Hardwood Floors, Wet or Dry

by Alexa

Paint is messy. Even when you apply the painter’s tape, lay down a drop cloth, and work your way across surfaces with the brush or roller ever so carefully, splatters happen.

If your hardwood floor has fallen victim to specks of paint, it’s not doomed forever. This guide on how to get paint off hardwood floors is for you—whether you’re working with wet paint spills or dry paint stains, we’ve got you covered.

How to Determine Paint Type on Floors

Removing paint spills from hardwood floors is a fairly straightforward, simple process. However, you’ll want to determine the type of paint on the wood first and foremost because it’ll play a key role in how to get the paint off your floors. And perhaps you didn't spill the paint yourself—maybe you just moved in and the paint spills were there to greet you. In any case, you'll want help in identifying the type of paint, which will either be latex- or water-based or oil-based. 

To determine the paint type, dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and rub it over the paint. If the cotton ball picks up any residue, then the paint is water- or latex-based. If there’s no residue on the cotton ball, it’s oil-based.

How to Get Dried Water- or Latex-Based Paint Off Hardwood Floors

If the water- or latex-based paint has splattered or spilled and dried on your floors, start with a simple DIY solution of soap and water before moving on to rubbing alcohol. 

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Putty knife
  • Soapy water
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • Rubbing alcohol 

Step 1: Scrape With a Putty Knife

Use a putty knife to lift off as much dried paint as possible. 

Step 2: Scrub with Soap and Water

Mix soap (dish soap or castile soap will work) and water together in a small bucket. Soak a rag in the mixture, then use a little elbow grease to scrub at the paint spill with the rag. The warm water and scrubbing should loosen the paint from the hardwood floor.

Step 3: Apply Rubbing Alcohol (If Needed)

If the paint is still not coming off, you’ll want to reach for rubbing alcohol. First, use a clean rag to dry the area from the soapy water solution, then soak a portion of the rag in rubbing alcohol. Gently scrub over the dried paint. It should loosen and lift off the floor.

Step 4: Wipe Dry

Wipe away the loosened paint from the floor. Make sure you wipe the floor dry once all of the paint specks have been removed to keep your hardwood floors from warping.

How to Get Dried Oil-Based Paint Off Hardwood Floors

Oil-based paint is tougher and more viscous, which can make it trickier to get off surfaces like floors. If an oil-based paint has dried on your hardwood floors, the first step is to try to scrape it off with a putty knife. If the paint has cured to a hard consistency that can’t be lifted with the putty knife, try adding heat. 

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Putty knife
  • Hairdryer

Step 1: Try Scraping Paint

Use a putty knife to lift off as much dried paint as possible. 

Step 2: Warm the Paint with a Hairdryer 

Apply heat to the remaining oil-based paint using a hairdryer. Set the dryer on maximum heat and hold it about three inches from the paint for roughly 15 seconds.

Step 3: Scrape Away the Paint

Now that the oil-based paint has softened, immediately follow up by carefully scraping away the paint with a putty knife.

How to Get Wet Paint Off Hardwood Floors

No matter what type of paint you’re dealing with, if you catch a paint spill when it’s wet, your best bet is to tackle it immediately! Start the clean-up process with a flat tool such as a putty knife. As soon as you spot the spill, use a putty knife to skim off as much paint as possible, wiping the excess back into the paint can or paint tray it came from.

For latex or water paints, tackle any remaining residue with a rag dampened with water. The remaining wet paint should soak up.

You’ll need a solvent (like Gamblin Gamsol Oil) to help dissolve pick up any remaining wet oil paint. Be sure to wear gloves when dealing with any type of solvent, since the strong chemicals can irritate skin. Just apply a dab of the solvent to the wet paint stain and then wipe it away with a rag.

Tips and Hacks for Difficult Cases

If you’ve scrubbed and scraped, wiped and dried, and the paint still isn’t coming off hardwood floors, it’s time to bust out something stronger. Try a heavier-duty paint removal product like Goof Off Paint Splatter. The product is safe for use on hardwood floors, and can be applied to oil- and water-based paints. For whatever product you use, be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions to make sure that it is safe for use on your floor and floor finish.

For oil-based paint specifically, you can also use paint thinner, but only as a last resort when you’ve exhausted every other paint-removal option. Before you start, make sure that you open windows for ventilation since paint thinner has strong fumes. While wearing rubber gloves, dip a rag into the paint thinner and very carefully rub the soaked rag into the paint stain, which should lift. Remove any excess paint thinner with a rag once you’re finished.

Do you have additional tips for how to get paint off hardwood floors? Share them below!

Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Teena Teena on Jan 21, 2023

    How do you get dried paint off a bathtub ?

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