How to Remove Old Paint From Hardwood Floors

How to Remove Old Paint From Hardwood Floors

Have you been scrapping and scrubbing all day at the stubborn paint splatter that suddenly appeared on your precious hardwood floor? Being rough over the surface with the wrong tools may damage your flooring, and will make little to no difference if the paint has dried up completely. Hardwood floors are also susceptible to stains spreading into cracks and grooves, which can be a disaster to clean up. It’s no easy task, but you can surely restore its former glory. We’ll guide you through various methods on how to remove old paint from hardwood floors to save you from stress, and to further prevent leaving noticeable marks with little to no damage.

What you will need

You’ll be needing the following tools and supplies, depending on the kind of paint you’ve spotted and the stain on the hardwood floor:

For water-based and latex paint (this has a matte-like finish with thinner coverage)

  • A wood file
  • Commercial paint removers or solvents
  • Liquid Dishwasher soap
  • Clean damp rags
  • Heat Gun
  • Plastic putty knife

For oil-based paint (has a glossy finish and thicker consistency; this gives off the common “paint scent”)

  • Alcohol cleansing pads
  • Clean or old rags
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Paint thinner

Step-by-step: Methods on How to Remove Old Paint From Hardwood Floors

Water-based and Latex Paints

Water-based and latex paint have a matte-like finish and thinner coverage usually applied on walls and ceilings, which require regular touch-ups as they fade. They are also fairly easy to remove, especially while they are still fresh.

Using a Plastic Putty Knife and Wood File

This is one of the easier methods, especially with thick clumps or dollops of paint that can be lifted from the surface. Using a plastic putty knife is best to avoid chipping at the wood. If the paint does not budge right away, use the wood file around the edges to lift the corners until it is loose enough to lift with the putty knife.

Heat Gun Method

A heat gun is another alternative to the wood file, but use it with caution. High heat or long exposure to the heat may melt the paint into liquid completely and it will spread into the cracks and grooves. Apply the heat to only soften the clump just enough for you to easily lift it off the floor.

Liquid Dishwasher Soap

New paint marks, especially while still wet can easily be wiped away with liquid dishwasher soap. Pour the dishwasher soap over the paint and rub gently with a damp rag to lather. Wipe clean with a new damp rag and repeat the process until the floor is clean.

Commercial Paint Removers or Solvents

Most of these Commercial paint removers are Water-based, thus it’s more suitable for Water-based or latex paint mediums. Simply pour an appropriate amount of the solvent on a clean rag as instructed, and gently wipe over the stain. Apply more solvent if needed until the stain is removed completely.

Oil-based Paint

An oil-based paint gives off that glossy finish and has a thicker coat. It’s also often associated with the “paint smell” as it releases strong fumes, unlike Water-based or latex paint. This is also more commonly used to paint most floors for its long-lasting coat.

Alcohol Cleansing pads

You can purchase these alcohol cleansing pads individually packed, designed mainly to disinfect but works as a great cleaning supply as well. Alcohol cleansing pads have the best results with new paint stains while they’re still wet. If you’re worried that alcohol might worsen the stain on your hardwood floor, you can also purchase paint removal pads at hardware and home supply stores. Simply rub over the stain and replace it with a new cleansing pad if needed. Repeat this process as desired.

Denatured alcohol

This is an alternative for alcohol cleansing pads and paints removal pads if you don’t have these options at your nearby store. Dampen a clean rag with denatured alcohol and gently rub it over the paint. Repeat until the paint is removed completely.

Paint Thinner

This is the most commonly used solvent for oil-based paints for its affordable price point and availability. Like the denatured alcohol. Dampen a clean rag with the paint thinner and wipe over the paint until clean. Repeat this process until you achieve your desired result.


Now that you’re better informed on how to remove old paint from hardwood floors, which method do you think will best resolve your situation? Many tools and supplies listed here can be easily found in most grocery and hardware stores, or you might already have these around your home. While these paint stains can’t be avoided, don’t stress because there’s certainly a method to get rid of them. With the right tools and tips, your hardwood floors are yours to easily clean up and fix.



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