How to Remove Paint from Concrete

If you’ve got paint on your concrete surfaces, follow these steps to clean it up.

Concrete is a common building material used for various purposes, such as foundations, fences, decks, driveways, walkways, and patios. However, if paint accidentally gets on the surface, it can be challenging to remove due to concrete’s porous nature. This difficulty increases if the concrete had a previous paint job, like a garage floor. To tackle the task of removing paint from concrete, use the following guide.

Before You Start

Paint is designed to be durable, requiring strong chemicals or powerful water pressure for removal. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the tools and products necessary for the job, such as pressure washers, paint thinners, and acetone.

Pressure washers are often used to remove paint from concrete due to their high-pressure force, which can physically strip the paint away. However, improper use may damage the concrete.

Paint thinner is a commonly used product for DIY paint removal from concrete. Acetone can also be applied to break down paint and make it easier to remove. Keep in mind that these chemicals emit strong odors and flammable vapors, requiring proper ventilation and precautions against heat, sparks, or flames. Caustic paint thinners can cause skin and eye burns, so handle them carefully and neutralize with an appropriate agent.

Safety First

Paint strippers and acetone are powerful chemicals, and safety precautions are crucial. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including closed-toe shoes, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, safety goggles, and a mask or respirator. Ensure good ventilation and follow the manufacturer’s directions, noting any risks.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Paintbrush
  • Wire brush
  • Steel wool
  • Pressure washer


  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painter’s tape
  • Cleaning solution
  • Paint stripper

How to Remove Paint from Concrete

Prepare the Area

The location of your painted concrete determines the amount of prep work needed. For indoor surfaces, like a concrete basement floor, ensure proper ventilation before using paint thinner. Outdoors, though less ventilation is required, it’s still advisable to wear a mask. Use painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to cover objects or surfaces that can’t be moved and might be affected by the paint removal process, including nearby plants and flowerbeds.

Clean the Painted Surface

For indoor projects, create a cleaning solution by mixing warm water in a bucket. Scrub the painted concrete with a wire brush and sponge to eliminate dirt and grime. This step is crucial to remove any debris that could act as a barrier, preventing the paint stripper from reaching the paint. For outdoor surfaces, either scrub with a wire brush and sponge or use a low-pressure setting on a pressure washer. Let the surface dry before moving to the next step.

Apply Paint Stripper

Before using paint strippers, carefully read and understand the manufacturer’s directions and warnings. This information guides you on the proper application, sitting time, and safe rinsing of the paint stripping solution. Generally, apply the paint stripper evenly with a paintbrush. Allow it about 20 minutes to break down the paint’s chemical composition before proceeding to the next step.

Scrape or Spray the Painted Surface

Depending on the size and location of the painted area, you have two options for removing the paint: scraping or using a pressure washer. If you opted for a caustic paint stripper, remember to neutralize it now to prevent potential chemical burns to your eyes and skin.

For smaller or indoor surfaces, test the paint’s softness with a putty knife. If it’s pliable and easy to scrape, use the putty knife to remove most of the paint. Some patches may remain after the first attempt.

If you choose a pressure washer, check the pressure settings to avoid damaging the concrete. Use a 15-degree nozzle at 2,500 to 3,000 PSI. Begin from the closest painted edge, holding the nozzle about a foot from the ground, and spray back and forth to remove the paint.

Reapply Paint Thinner

If the first attempt doesn’t remove all the paint, reapply the paint thinner and let it sit for the recommended time. This ensures any remaining paint becomes loose enough for removal with a pressure washer, wire brush, or steel wool.

Remove Remaining Paint

Once the paint thinner has adequately broken down the remaining paint, use steel wool, a steel-bristle brush, or a pressure washer to eliminate the rest. If a caustic paint thinner was used, neutralize with a solution to eliminate the risk of chemical burns to your eyes or skin.

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