If you’ve decided to remove carpeting to show off the hardwood floors underneath and discovered really old paint spots, there is a safe way to remove them. Or if you’ve recently painted your walls and ceiling and found residual evidence of that on your floors, you can remove these spots too. In either case, get ready to apply some elbow grease and equip yourself with patience. The key to removing paint spots from hardwood flooring is not to damage the wood. If you get in a hurry or use chemicals that are too harsh, you stand the chance of having to call in a professional to fix the damage.

Try These Paint Removal Techniques

Before grabbing the sander or harsh chemicals to remove paint from a hardwood floor, try to use a method that’s easier on the wood itself. Here are a few ideas to try:

• If a paint spot isn’t very old, it is likely to be more pliable than one that’s been dried on your floor for years. In this case, a simple putty knife with gentle back and forth action should lift the spots.

• Dishwashing liquid or another mild cleaning agent such as TSP (trisodium phosphate) dissolved in water first and then placed on the paint spots will sometimes remove them. This method is especially effective on paint spots that are latex-based. However, be cautious with the amount of water you put on a hardwood floor as excessive water will cause irreversible damage.

• Try using a heat gun to loosen up the paint and then take the putty knife and pry the paint away from the floor. Again, use caution and avoid excessive heat on your hardwood floors which can be damaging.

• If the above three methods are not effective, then it’s time to start using chemicals. But first, start with the least abrasive which is rubbing alcohol. Simply use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to saturate the paint spot on the floor. Use a putty knife and cloth to wipe excess alcohol and paint.

• You can also use acetone or lacquer thinner. These are much stronger chemicals and as such, it’s wise to wear a face mask and ventilate the area in which you’re working as much as possible.

• Paint thinner is also a strong chemical. Using paint thinner, acetone or lacquer thinner will require a lot of physical work so be sure the area is well ventilated.

• Finally, there are paint removal products which are made for the specific removal of paint from hardwood floors. Read the fine print on the bottles and all warnings as these are typically harsher chemicals than thinners or acetone. Some of the more popular products include: Goof Off, Goo Gone Painter’s Pal and Krud Kutter. Remember these chemicals more than likely will affect the finish that is on your hardwood floor. As such, it may be necessary to call in a professional for sanding and restaining the floor.