How to Remove Paint From Concrete

Background of very textured concrete with red paint spilled and splattered across it

Paint drops on your concrete driveway? Don’t worry. Our step-by-step guide will show you how to remove paint from concrete, covering everything from the products you need to safety precautions and techniques to use.

Speaking of the tools and safety gear you’ll need, round up all of these items before you get started. You can purchase these tools online or at your local home improvement store. 

Tools Needed

  • Plastic sheet 
  • Broom or shop vac
  • Paint thinner or diluted trisodium phosphate
  • Long-handled brush 
  • Bucket
  • Fine ground clay 
  • Paint brush
  • Wire brush 
  • Heavy-duty pressure washer (rent it from your local home improvement store) 

Safety Gear

  • Pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Protective gloves
  • Respirator

Steps to Remove Paint Spills From Concrete

Spilled paint on concrete
Photo Credit: sergoua / Canva Pro / License

1. Prep Work

Here’s what to do before you start removing paint from concrete: 

  • Cover the plants and flower beds with a plastic sheet to prevent chemicals from getting on them. Tape the plastic sheet to the ground so it doesn’t blow away in the wind. 
  • Sweep or vacuum the dust and debris from the concrete surface. 
  • Clean the affected area with soapy water. For better results, use diluted trisodium phosphate (TSP) or paint thinner. Wear your safety gear when using TSP or paint thinner. 
  • Scrape the surface with a long-handled brush. 
  • Rinse the area and let it dry for 3 hours. 

2. Apply Paint Stripper

Paint strippers are designed to remove paint from wood, but they also work well on concrete. There are three types of paint strippers: 

  • Caustic paint stripper has a very high pH to break the molecular bonds in the paint. It can effectively remove both latex and oil-based paints. However, it contains harsh chemicals that can burn the skin and cause lung irritation. 
  • Solvent-based stripper has solvents like NMP that penetrate the concrete surface and dissolve the paint. It can remove both latex and oil-based paints. Solvent-based stripper is slightly less toxic compared to caustic paint stripper. 
  • Biochemical paint stripper is less toxic and effective at removing water-based paint from the surface. 

If you’re unsure what type of paint is on the concrete surface, your best bet is to use a solvent-based chemical stripper. Follow these steps to apply it:

  • Put on your safety gear. 
  • Pour a generous amount of paint stripper into the bucket and mix it with an absorbent material like fine ground clay. The mixture makes it easier to remove the paint. 
  • Use a paint brush to apply the paint stripper mixture to the surface. 
  • Allow 1 to 8 hours for the stripper to work, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Use a wire brush or paint scraper to remove the softened paint.
  • Repeat if necessary. 

3. Pressure Wash the Concrete Surface

Man cleaning concrete patio with a pressure washer
Photo Credit: welcomia / Canva Pro / License

In most cases, a paint stripper can remove paint from the concrete surface. However, you may need to pressure wash to get rid of stubborn paint stains. 

You’ll need a heavy-duty power washer with 3,000 to 3,500 PSI (pounds per square inch) to remove paint from the concrete surface. If you don’t own one, you can rent a pressure washer from your local hardware store. 

Here’s how to pressure wash the concrete:

  • Use a yellow 15-degree nozzle to strip paint from concrete.
  • Hold the wand at a downward angle and ensure you’re at least 2 feet away from the surface. 
  • Move the wand up and down or side-to-side until you get rid of the paint. 

Note: Pressure washers are for outdoor use only. If you want to remove paint from interior concrete floors, use a paint stripper. 

How to Remove Paint From Larger Concrete Areas

Paint strippers and power washing are effective in removing accidental paint spills. However, if you want to remove a layer of paint from the entire concrete surface, you should either soda blast or sandblast. 

Soda Blast

Tools Needed

  • Industrial soda blaster (you can rent one from your local home improvement store) 
  • Specialized sodium bicarbonate (regular baking soda from the grocery store is ineffective)
  • Scrub brush

Safety Gear

  • Pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Protective gloves
  • Respirator
  • Earmuffs
  • Hat

Steps to Soda Blast Paint From Concrete

  1. Cover the plants and flower beds with a plastic sheet to protect them from sodium bicarbonate. 
  2. Wear protective clothing so you don’t inhale or get hurt by the particles. 
  3. Stand 2 feet away from the surface and turn on the soda blaster. Open the nozzle valve slowly to find the right amount of force needed. 
  4. Move the nozzle up and down and then side-to-side until you have removed the paint. Work in sections and avoid repeatedly spraying the same area so you don’t damage the concrete. 
  5. Use a scrub brush to remove peeled paint from the concrete. 

Sandblast

Man sandblasting concrete floor
Photo Credit: KristianSeptimiusKrogh / Canva Pro / License

Tools Needed

  • Industrial sandblaster (rent one from your local home improvement store) 
  • Crystalline silica
  • Scrub brush 

Safety Gear

  • Pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Protective gloves
  • Respirator
  • Earmuffs
  • Hat

Steps to Sandblast Paint From Concrete

  1. Use a plastic sheet to cover the plants and flower beds. 
  2. Put on your protective gear because inhaling crystalline silica can be toxic. 
  3. Stand 2 feet away from the surface and turn on the sandblaster. Slowly open the nozzle valve to find the right amount of force needed. 
  4. Work slowly and in sections. Move the nozzle up and down and then side-to-side. Avoid repeatedly spraying the same area so you don’t damage the concrete. 
  5. Use a scrub brush to remove peeled paint from the concrete. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Not covering the plants
  • Neglecting safety gear
  • Using the wrong nozzle to pressure wash concrete
  • Not allowing enough time for the chemical paint stripper to work
  • Soda blasting or sandblasting with excess force

FAQ About Removing Paint from Concrete

Can I use regular paint removers on concrete?

Yes. However, paint removers may not be as effective as chemical paint strippers. 

How can I prevent paint stains on concrete?

Sealing the concrete surface prevents the paint from penetrating inside and increases its durability. Also, cover the surface with a drop cloth when painting. 

Can I remove paint from concrete with a floor grinder?

A floor grinder is a powerful tool that helps level and polish concrete floors. It removes the paint, but there’s a high chance you will damage the surface during the process. Using a soda blaster or sandblaster is a better choice. 

When to Hire a Painting (or Paint Removal) Pro

Removing paint spills from concrete is a simple DIY task. However, the same isn’t the case if you want to remove the paint from the entire concrete surface. It’s messy and time-consuming. 

If you need help removing paint from your concrete floor, Paint Gnome connects you with the best painting pros in your area.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Vineyard / Canva Pro / License

Abdul Wadood

Abdul Wadood enjoys painting and is currently on a mission to help homeowners transform their living spaces from boring to beautiful. When he's not painting, you can find him exploring the world.