How to Remove Paint from Concrete

  • July 26, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Cracked Wall

When you have a concrete surface, no matter where it is in your house, the driveway or the backyard, you would want it to look clean and presentable. But if there are chipped paint marks or splotches of paint from when you painted the ceiling last season, that sure cannot look pleasing to the eye. Removing paint from concrete surfaces does not need to be hard if you are using the right materials. You will certainly need 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 guide to removing paint from concrete.

For any concrete surface to have longevity, you will need to protect it with a sealer. The sealer prevents moisture and the hardships of weather from damaging the concrete. But before applying the concrete sealer, you need to ensure that the surface is clean

Cracked Wall

The previous layer of sealer has been removed, all the cracks have been filled and the paint has been removed too. Without removing the uneven layers from the surface, the sealer will also be applied unevenly. Besides, if there is any dirt or debris, it will get trapped underneath the sealer.

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 ways of removing paint from the concrete.

Here’s our review of the best concrete sealers in the market.

How to Remove Paint

There are at least three main ways of removing paint from concrete. Depending on how large the surface area is of the paint and how old the layer of paint is, one or the other methods should work. 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 loosen the paint out. 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 manufacturers you bought the paint from and ask for a suitable product. The customer care number will 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, 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 has been scrubbed off, you can wash the area off with a hose to ensure all the paint residue has been removed.

Chemical Paint Stripper

DIY Paint Stripper

For tougher spots, you can make an absorbent paint stripper using clay or even cat litter! Depending on how thick the stripper is, you may not need to mix too much of the other material. 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 to two 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 too expensive if you don’t need to remove paint from a large area. You may even 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, either try to remove the plants from the area or cover them. The high pH soda will damage the plant-life otherwise. Be sure to wear a protective mask while blasting so you don’t inhale too much.

Power Wash

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 chips 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 very long, power washing alone may not be enough to get the paint out. 

Power Wash

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 the paint, it should not be too hard. Give yourself a few days to make sure you manage to do a thorough job.