How to Remove Paint from Concrete

  • December 10, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Cracked Wall

When you have a concrete surface anywhere in your home, whether it may be the driveway or the backyard, you would want it to look clean and presentable. Chipped paint marks or splotches of paint from when you painted the ceiling or the wall last season do not look pleasing to the eye. So how can you get paint off concrete?

Concrete wall after paint has been removed

The answer depends on a lot of factors but removing paint from concrete surfaces does not need to be hard if you are using the right materials. All you need is a scrub brush and a few days. It is important to be patient if you want to do a thorough job.

The following is a step by step guide on the different methods to remove paint from concrete.

For any concrete surface to have longevity, you will need to protect it with a sealer. The sealer prevents moisture in the concrete and damage from the ever-changing weather. But before applying the concrete sealer, you need to ensure that the surface is clean to make sure that there will be no dirt or debris trapped underneath the sealer.

The previous layer of sealer should be removed, all the cracks should be filled with the best concrete filler for the job, and the paint should be removed too. Without removing the uneven layers from the surface, the sealer will be applied unevenly and will not be able to fulfill its purpose.

Applying a new coat of sealer calls for a new paint job too, but that means the previous layer of paint needs to be removed. There are several different methods that you can use for removing paint from concrete.

Here is our review of the best concrete sealers in the market.

How to Clean Paint off Concrete

There are at least three main ways of removing paint from concrete. The effectiveness of each method will depend on how large the area of the painted surface is and how old the layer of paint is. The following are some common methods of removing paint from concrete:

Chemical Paint Strippers

There are several chemical paint strippers available in the market that loosens the paint. Some of the traditional ones are turpentine oil and mineral spirits. Most companies that sell paint also sell effective paint removers. So, if the traditional strippers do not work, you can always contact the paint manufacturer or the store you bought the paint from and ask for a more suitable product. The customer care number should be provided on the paint box or packaging.

There are also soy-based gel cleaners which you can apply directly on to the paint. Allow the gel to sit for a bit and when you wipe it off, the paint is meant to come right off. The good thing is that you can even reuse the gel on another part of the concrete, so it is more environment-friendly as well as cost-effective.

With all chemical paint strippers, you will need to apply it on top of the paint, wait for it to set, and then using a scrub brush, remove the stripper along with the paint. Once most of the paint have been scrubbed off, you can wash the area with a hose to ensure all the paint residue is gone.

Painted concrete wall

DIY Paint Stripper

For tougher spots, you can make your own absorbent paint stripper! Depending on how thick the stripper is, you may not need to do your own estimation of how much material you will need. Make a paste with your stripper and the absorbent material of your choice. Add some paint thinner if it is getting too thick. The absorbent material will soak in the paint and make it easier to scrape off. You can add more paint thinner to the mixture as you spread it over the paint. Allow the mixture to dry. Depending on the mixture you have used, this could take anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours. Scrape the mixture off once it is dry and see the paint peel.

Soda Blasting

If scraping the paint off is too laborious because of the surface area you need to cover, soda blasting is a good option. You will need a soda blaster, of course, which you can rent from a nearby hardware store. It is important to get the right kind of machinery because a standard sand blaster will not work with sodium bicarbonate. You will also need special sodium bicarbonate as your kitchen variety of baking soda will probably be too fine for the blaster.

Hold the nozzle of the blaster close to the ground to get a close finish. Move it around the painted area so you can get all the paint off evenly. Soda blasting is a more environment-friendly method than using chemical strippers. It also does not damage the concrete underneath. But it may be an expensive option if you are only working on a small area. For large areas, you may want to enlist professional support if the work gets to be too much as it can be a laborious process.

If you are blasting near plants or flora, try to remove the plants from the area or cover them because the high pH soda will affect your plant’s life. Be sure to wear a protective mask while blasting so you do not inhale the material.

Power Washing

Power washers are another popular way of removing paint. You can use a hose with high water pressure to wash the paint away. The pressure of the water will chip the paint away. The good thing is that you do not require any chemicals for this process. The pressure of the water should suffice. But if the paint has been on for a very long time, power washing alone may not be enough to get the paint out.  

Cleaning paint off concrete with a power washer

Final Thoughts

Removing paint from concrete, especially if it is an old layer of paint, can be a frustrating task. Unless you have managed to loosen the paint well, it can be difficult to scrape it off even with a stiff brush. So, it is important to assess the job at your hands and find the right method to remove the paint. Once you have the right tools and equipment to remove paint from concrete, the task should not be too hard. Give yourself a few days to make sure you manage to do a thorough job.