undefinedMarch 10,2022

How to Get Paint Off Hardwood Floors? Step-By-Step Guide

Wooden flooring is something that is seen as a precious thing to have in your house among other materials. Owning a hardwood floor comes with the responsibility of maintaining its beauty as long as possible. 

It especially becomes hard when it comes to renovation works. The possibility of paint dripping on the floor or accidentally getting smudged is highly possible. Wiping it right away would work the trick but that might get skipped off in the rush. So, knowing how to get paint off hardwood floors is something that will pay off later when you do decide to clean the mess up.

Paint stains are hard to get rid of, especially when they are dry. But to make the process less of a trial and error, it is best to start with knowing what kind of paint was spilled. This would range from oil-based, latex-based, and water-based. 

Here we will explore the different stain removal options available, made for each of these paint types. Additional information is also provided to help you with knowing how to get paint off of hardwood floors.

Knowing the Type of Paint Stain to Be Removed

Identifying the type of paint that was spilled will save you the time of trying all the methods available. The type of paint can vary from Oil-based, Latex-based, and water-based paints. These different bases will determine the effort you will have to put in to get rid of the stain. 

how to get paint off hardwood floors


If the paint stain happened recently and you still happen to have the container, you can just read the label of the container to know the type of paint. You can determine what type of paint was used if the paint has been dried out for a long time and you have no idea what it was. 

Rubbing a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol will either take off the paint or not. If it does remove it from the floor, the paint is latex or water-based. If it remains intact on the hardwood floor, it means that it is an oil-based paint.

By knowing this, it will be easier to go about how to get paint off of hardwood floors. You can go ahead and choose the method that fits your situation and get that stain off quickly.

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Get Paint Off of Hardwood Floors

When it comes to removing paint stains off of hardwood floors, there are mainly two types of methods that are followed. One that involves the use of hardware tools and is more of a physical way of removing the stain. The other uses chemicals and solutions that act on the stain and remove it from the surface.

Let’s look at how to remove stains from each type of paint, as well as cases where the paint has been resting on the surface for a long time.

How to Get Rid of Oil Paint Stains Off of Hardwood Floors

For oil-based paint stains, the following are the methods used with a stepwise breakdown of the same.


Sanding is a technique that is used to remove any paint stain. Power sanders, the sandpaper of different grits, palm sandpapers, and cotton rags are necessary for this process. Cleaning tools such as a vacuum cleaner or a broom for cleaning up after. along with protective gloves and face masks for protection, can also be taken.

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: Start the process by taking the power sander and attaching the least grit sandpaper to it. The paint will mostly come off if the grit of the sandpaper is less. You can use the 60 grit sandpaper for starters.

Step 02:Turn on the sander and sand along the grain of the wood carefully.

Step 03: Clean the dust off from this round and then attach an 80 grit sandpaper for the next round.

Step 04: Start the sanding process again along the grain of the wood. As the grit size increases the finer the paper will be. Thus, any paint that was leftover from the initial phase will be scraped away with the 80 grit sandpaper.

Step 05: Switch to the 120 grit sandpaper for the final round of sanding. That will take out the final swatches of paint left on the wood while making it lighter in the shade and soft textured.

Step 06: Wipe off all the excess dust and wood 

Step 07: with a handheld sandpaper sand off any hard to get spots where the paint might have gotten trapped

Step 08: give the surface a thorough clean and wipe it down with a damp cloth.

Paint Scrapper

The paint can be easily removed from the floorboards using this method. You will require a rigid putty knife that would be put up against the paint with enough pressure to remove it. You can also use the edge of any tool or object made of plastic that can seem to do the job of scrapping the paint off of the floor. The steps to be followed to do it are as follows:

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: Take in hand a scrapper of choice, that will work under pressure to remove the paint stain.

Step 02: Use it to apply pressure and scrape off the paint on the floor.

Step 03: Repeat the process on the spots where the paint stains are present.

Step 04: After the completion of the removal process, take a damp rag to wipe off the surface clean.

Heat Machine

A heat machine in this context means tools such as a heat gun or a hairdryer that emits hot air. This would help in melting the paint and helping in the easy removal of the same. The steps to be followed to do it are as follows.

Step 01: Pug in the heat machine that you have and hold it close to the stained area. Be careful to hold the device at a distance so it doesn’t burn the hardwood floor.

Step 02: Test the paint and see if it is soft enough to be easily removed

Step 03: Once the paint is soft, you can remove it with a paint scraper, peel it or wipe it off of the surface.

Step 04: Continue to repeat this process until the whole paint stain is removed.

Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are chemical solutions that are usually used to dissolve the paint. These can come in handy when it is time to remove a stain caused by the same as well. The steps to be followed are:

Step 01: Take a rag and soak it with the thinner of choice

Step 02: Rub the rag onto the stain gently removing it.

Step 03: Repeat this process until you have a clean hardwood floor.

Step 04: Once the whole process is done, you can wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth.

Paint Removal Solvent

Today the market has specialized pain removal solvents specifically made to remove oil-based paint stains. These can be used easily with the help of a rag to remove the stains. 

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: cover the stained floor with the rag soaked in the paint removal solvent. That allows the chemical to work and break the paint down to be wiped off easily.

Step 02: After the recommended amount of time has passed, the rag can be removed and the stain along with the excess solvent can be wiped off with a dry cloth.

Step 03: if some portion of the stain remains, it can be sanded down or removed with other handy techniques.

How to Get Rid of Latex Paint Stains Off of Hardwood Floors

Unlike oil-based paints, latex paints are comparatively easier to remove. They are much similar to water-based paints but still are sometimes challenging to deal with. Here are a few methods on how to get latex paint off hardwood floors


Sanding the wood down is a great way to remove the stain as it can be used in any scenario to clean stains. The process is quite simple with tools such as a power sander, hand sandpaper, and different grits of sandpaper for the machine.

Step 01: Fix the lowest grit sandpaper i.e., 60 grit to the machine, and use it to sand off the paint stain as much as possible. 

Step 02: Follow this with the 80 grit paper and then the 120 grit one to get out all the remaining stain while smoothing it along the process

Step 03: Once you have gotten the majority of the stain off, you can get the rest of the stubborn stains by using sandpaper.

Step 04: After the whole stain has been removed the surface can be cleaned and wiped neat with a damp rag.

Paint Scraper

Paint scrapers are essentially any plastic-edged object that can scrape off the paint stain from the surface. Credit cards and other forms of cards can come in handy in these situations. The process to follow is so forth:

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: Take the paint scraper that you have and use its edge to scrap against the paint. Apply ample pressure to successfully remove it.

Step 02: Repeat this step until the whole stain is removed.

Step 03: Once the process is complete you can wipe off the surface with a damp cloth.

Nylon Scrub Brush

This method uses a straightforward tool to take off the stain from the floor. The following are the steps for the same:

Step 01: Use a nylon scrub brush to scrub against the stain to remove it.

Step 02: After repeated scrubbing and removal of the stain, one can use a damp rag to wipe the floor clean. 

Steam Stripper

Using a steam stripper might be a slow process in removing stains from hardwood floors. But compared to the chemical methods, it proves to be less harmful. It uses tools such as a steam stripper, latex paint remover, putty knife, and protective mask. The steps to the process are:

Step 01: Take the steamer, plug it in and hold it at a distance for the sustained surface.

Step 02: Once the surface of the latex stain bubbles up you can use the knife to remove it cleanly.

Step 03: Repeat the process till the stain is removed completely.

Step 04: Clean the surface afterward and dispose of the debris.

Rubbing Alcohol & Lemon Juice or Denatured Alcohol 

Available at almost every household, this proves to be the most accessible method of removal. The process will also need a brass bristle brush to scrub off the paint from the floor. The steps to follow are:

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: Use a solution of one part lemon juice and 3 parts rubbing alcohol to saturate the stain with a rag. The mixture can be replaced with Denatured Alcohol as well.

Step 02: Use a brass bristle brush to scrub off the stain from the floor.

Step 03: Repeat the process until the floor is stainless and wipe the floor clean with a damp cloth.

How to Get Rid of Dried Paint Off of Hardwood Floors

Dried-off paint is the hardest one to remove of them all. As it has had the time to settle in, it will prove to be difficult to get rid of it. Using the following techniques one can learn how to get dried paint off hardwood floors.

Heat Gun

Heat guns are an efficient means to remove the paint from the surface it is adhered to. It will also include any heat-emitting device such as a steamer or a hairdryer. The process to follow is:

Step 01: Use the heat gun or the device at a 45-degree angle 6 to 8 inches away from the stained surface to separate the paint.

Step 02: Once the paint seems to loosen up, rest the device down and take up a scrapper to scrap off the paint.

Step 03: Repeat the process to remove the entire stain and wipe it down with a damp cloth to clean it. 

Pressure Wash

When it comes to knowing how to get dried paint off of hardwood floors, the really old flaky paint would also come to mind. Pressure wash is the technique most effective in this scenario.

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Step 01: Connect the pressure washer wand to the yellow nozzle and turn the water and the power on.

Step 02: Hold your ground and aim it at the stain at an angle above the hardwood floor. Do a sweeping motion to get all the dried paint off of the surface.

Step 03: Once all the paint is washed off, you can clean the surface with a dry cloth.

Boiled Linseed Oil

It is as natural as a technique can get. By using boiled linseed to separate the stain and scrape it off the surface you will be doing less harm to the hardwood. The simple way to follow it through is:

Step 01: Use a rag oil to saturate the stained portion with linseed oil.

Step 02: Scrape off the paint with a plastic putty knife.

Step 03: Repeat the process until the stain is removed fully.

Step 04: Clean the area with a damp rag. 

8 Tips to Look Out for When Painting Close to Hardwood Floors

how to get paint off hardwood floors


  1. Always be careful while handling paint near hardwood floors. Being cautious is better than being sorry later.
  2. Before painting the flooring, cover them with newspapers, old plastic sheets, or tarps.
  3. Use thinner brushes to paint closer to the floor and take your time with it.
  4. In case you have a mishap, clean it then and there without waiting for it to dry.
  5. Use the items around you for a DIY cleaner rather than spending more money on an advanced stain remover.
  6. Be careful while cleaning it as it tends to spread more.
  7. Clean the surface before and after the stain is removed as dirt and grit can accumulate
  8. Avoid using chemical methods to take off the stain and rather use natural or household methods to clean it off.

FAQs on Cleaning Paint Stains from Hardwood Floors 

how to get paint off hardwood floors


Is It Possible to Use Sanding to Remove Old, Hard, and Dried-Up Paint?

It is possible to remove old hardened paint by sanding, as it essentially scrapes off the stain slowly using different grit sandpapers. The surface also ends up being even smooth at the end of the process.

How Can Water-Based Paint Be Removed?

Water-based paints are the easiest kind to remove. It only needs the use of soap and water and a gentle scrub with the same. Latex paints are similar and the methods used there can also be applied for water-based paints.

Are Wall Paints Latex-Based or Oil-Based?

Wall paints can be both depending on the quality that the owner wants. Oil paints are much more durable compared to latex paints and require only one coat to get on the surface. While latex paints are easier to remove when staining happens. 

Which Is the Least Damaging Method to Use When It Comes to Stain Removal from Hardwood Floors?

Natural means and mechanical tools will be less abrasive than commercially available chemicals. These would be tools like a scrapper, heat gun, sandpaper, etc.

How Are Laminate Wooden Floor Stains Cleaned?

Paint stains on laminate wooden floorboards can be removed easily using an acetone-based cleanser. Clean the surface before using it and soak the stained area with the cleanser. Using a moist rag wipe the stain off after letting it sit for some time.

Having discussed and covered all possible ways of removing paint stains from hardwood floors, you can be confident now to get the job done right. Using the right method will allow you to avoid unnecessary frustration and time wasted worrying about your floor. So, analyze your situation and follow the method that best suits it.

For more information on home improvement, visit HouseDecorationTip.



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