How to Remove Dried Paint From Wood Floors

Restore the appearance of your wood floor by removing dried paint spills.
Restore the appearance of your wood floor by removing dried paint spills. (Image: A wall with a splattered, dripping texture. image by Maria Fulmer from

Dried paint stains, unless they are recent, on your wood floor can prove difficult to remove without damaging the floor’s finish. However, with the proper procedures, you can remove both latex and oil-based dried paint from your floor’s surface without damaging the wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Liquid soap
  • Sponge
  • Hair dryer
  • Water-based chemical paint remover or solvent
  • Mineral spirits
  • Vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Stripper cleaner
  • Brush
  • Rags
  • Towel

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Slide the edge of a utility knife blade beneath the edge of small paint splatters, parallel to the wood floor surface. Push gently on the knife, sliding it along the floor and wedging the paint up. Continue sliding the knife between the paint and the floor until you lift the spatter free. Take care not to cut into the surface of the floor with the knife blade.

Soak more difficult to remove latex paint splatters with hot water containing enough added soap to bubble slightly. Apply the water with a sponge and allow it to sit for about five minutes to loosen the paint. Use the utility knife on the loosened paint to remove the splatter. Use directed hot air from a hair dryer set on low-air, high-heat to soften larger splashes of latex paint when the hot water does not work. Move the dryer constantly over the paint patch to break the bond between the paint and the floor. Test the paint adherence with the utility knife at the edge. When the paint begins to peel using the knife, proceed to wedge the paint from the floor’s surface.

Use a caustic chemical paint remover if the peel process fails to remove paint, or if you’re dealing with a large painted area greater than a square foot. Spray latex paint remover over the surface of the paint and then allow it to soak into the paint for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer. Wipe away the remover and the paint with a cloth. For oil-based paint, use a brush-on paint remover specially formulated for use with oil-based paints. Allow the remover to sit on the paint for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer and then wipe away with a clean cloth. Both chemical removal methods will strip away floor finishes as well as dried paint, requiring you to refinish the wood after use.

Use mineral spirits to clean up solvents and water and vinegar or a proprietary product for cleanup after a caustic stripper. Pat dry with a towel. Water is generally not a good idea. Some woods can take a month or more to really dry.


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