When a disaster strikes, one’s imagination spins into overdrive, and invention often kicks in and saves the day. A paint job can go wrong when your teen decides to do their bedroom wall solo during a summer vac, and you’re finishing off deadlines. Getting paint on hardwood floors is a nightmare. And knowing how to get the paint off is equally challenging and often unsuccessful.
Paint sticks stubbornly to hardwood and laminate floors. However much scrubbing you do, it’s not easy to get the paint off, definitely not with a rag and white vinegar. There’s a hot-air gun technique, and some DIY hacks use store-bought solvents, but you want to protect your wooden floors. Did you know a garment steamer, like those used in boutique outfitters, gets paint off wooden floors?
- A clothes or garment steamer
- A cloth or rag
- A bucket of warm water
Step 1. Get a Rag When You Spot Paint on Wooden Floor
Teens are notorious for their choice of bedroom wall colors. They know what they want, and the brighter the color, the better for their personal décor stamp. Orange, purple, bright blue, and navy are the first choices in a teenager’s color wheel. Doing the painting themselves also is typically teenage. Perhaps a friend or two can help, but no parents or adults.
Though parents stress being tidy, putting down a ground sheet, the door is shut, leaving them wondering what's happening inside. And it’s a coat of paint on the walls, after all. With the job done, and teen paraphernalia scattered around, it’s hard to see the state of the floor. One assumes that the groundsheet was used to protect the floor.
Disaster strikes some days later, with specks of dry paint all over. And after an exhausting couple of hours, it’s too late to try and wipe the paint off. No matter how much rubbing and scrubbing, the specks of paint stick. It's not only a visual eyesore but there's every chance the floor is ruined. The house's resale value drops instantly, and if renting, your deposit is lost.
Many of the simple household tricks prove to be of no success at all. It's too late to try scrubbing the floor with a kitchen sink sponge and a bucket of warm water. Even the alcohol in a hand sanitizer is useless. You might want to avoid taking the acetone route as it's volatile. No ammonia products can dissolve the spilled paint – the specks sit like ticks on a dog’s skin.
How to get the floor to the state before the painting of the walls seems impossible. Google searches bring up suggestions like using a hot-air gun (that reaches 1200 degrees F) to melt the paint. But knowing your handiness, you fear you might set the house alight. Hot-air guns, if not used properly, can cause a fire.
You realize it was a mistake to let your teen paint their room unsupervised. And to let them loose with a hot-air gun is courting double trouble. You also don’t want to use sanding or paint stripper and risk damaging the floor.
There’s a trick that works like magic, and that's safe. If you are like me, you'd have a garment steamer for your clothes rather than an iron. Ironing shirts is laborious and tedious. So how does a steamer work, you ask.
Step 2. Get Your Hands on a Garment Steamer
No more panic at your hardwood or laminate floors being wrecked when paint spills and dries. A clothing steamer is a multi-purpose gadget; to get wrinkles out of garments and a safe way to get the paint off hardwood and laminate floors. A garment steamer works with steam, applies heat but not like a hot-air gun, and cleans off paint without leaving scratches.
Many DIY hacks use this method and swear it’s close to magic. So, if getting off the paint on hardwood and laminate floors wants to drive you up the walls, bring in the clothing steamer. And, if you need more clarification, the only way to know if your garment steamer can do the job is to try it out.
Start small, best in an invisible spot. This is just a precautionary move like DIY-ers do with every job.
Step 3. Plug in the Garment Steamer
A portable garment steamer can be moved to where you want to do the job. Ensure the garment steamer is plugged in, and put the steamer close to where you’ll be working. The reach of a steam hose with the steam head of a garment steamer is limited. Not far from the stand. Be aware not to extend the cord length and have the stand stopple.
Besides the steamer, also have a bucket of warm water and a wet cloth or rag handy to wipe off the paint.
Step 4. Heat the Garment Steamer
Garment steamers, though not as hazardous as a hot-air gun, work by turning water to steam which can reach a temperature of about 200 degrees. The steam, when in touch with the paint, softens it. Be careful, though, as you can get burnt. The American Burn Association says that 85 percent of scald burns happen at home, and using a garment steamer is one of those.
The degree of these burns or scalds is commonly underestimated as the wounds don’t look as severe as other burn wounds.
Using a garment steamer to get paint off a hardwood floor is a number 1method. This method works like using an electric steamer, a much more expensive device to get wallpaper off walls. In the case of paint on hardwood floors, the garment steamer does the job.
Heat the garment steamer up before, just for a few seconds. Kneel down on the floor with the head of the steamer held in your hand. Point the steamer head downward to the dried paint on the floor. Hold the head of the garment steamer over the dried paint. This is the moment you've been waiting for.
The steam from the garment steamer does the trick. Some garment steamers even have a turbo setting to release steam. Steam often takes off heavy paint build-up in many DIY projects. The process is damp, and when the steam is applied to the surface, it takes roughly 30 seconds to work.
Step 5. Wipe off the Paint
Once the garment steamer, which works through a damp process, loosens the paint, you can easily wipe off the paint specs. You can do any size of paint spills that have dried and are stuck to your hardwood and laminate floors.
It takes less than four wipes, DIY enthusiasts say, to get rid of any size spill. Some areas will take a bit longer to loosen the paint from the hardwood or laminate floors. You’ll have to apply more steams if this is the case. But rest assured, your paint specked hardwood or laminate floors will wipe clean.
Even the most seasoned painter has frustration when painting, especially when there are unwanted splatters and drips. Isopropyl alcohol sometimes referred to as rubbing alcohol, is a liquid used for a variety of industrial and domestic tasks, including the removal of paint.
Since isopropyl alcohol is less dense than water, it escapes the pour quickly and picks on paint as it does so. Even though isopropyl alcohol does not have the same strength as a paint stripper, you can use isopropyl alcohol to remove latex, oil-based, and acrylic paints from various porous and non-porous surfaces.
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Paper Towel or Rag
Removing paint from a hardwood floor requires a clean towel, rag, or paper towel. Ensure that the towel or rag is clean because any dirt may transfer onto the hardwood floor. Also, avoid a cloth recently dyed because the rubbing alcohol will transfer the dye onto the hardwood floor. A white cloth washed a few times and all color removed is a good choice to use to remove the paint.
The rubbing alcohol sprayed onto the paint and scrubbing with the cloth will remove the paint on the hardwood floor, but it may take a few repeated applications to achieve the required outcome. Use 70% rubbing alcohol for the best results.
Step 1. Use 70% Rubbing Alcohol to Remove the Paint
Removing paint from a hardwood floor is possible, and 70% rubbing alcohol and a paper towel or rag that you buy in the store is all you need. Asses how big the paint mark is to determine how much rubbing alcohol you need. If the paint is still wet, the rubbing alcohol will quickly remove it, but dry paint may need some extra work before it comes off.
Step 2. Pour Isopropyl Alcohol Onto the Paint
Try not to remove the entire painted spot in one swoop. Remove the paint in small sections to give you better control and avoid the paint spreading and creating a bigger mess on the hardwood floor.
- Pour a small amount of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) on the paint mark on the hardwood floor.
- Keep the pour on the section where you will work to remove the paint.
- Consider damping the cloth, rag, or paper towel for small splatters rather than pouring it directly onto the painted spot.
- A tip to prevent the rubbing alcohol from spreading the paint to the unpainted parts of the hardwood floor is to encircle the paint mark with a rag to prevent the liquid from flowing onto the surrounding surface.
Step 3. Rub the Paint Surface with a Cloth
A paper towel will work to remove the dry paint, but a rag is a better choice because it is stronger, and removing the paint will require some continuous scrubbing.
- Rub the paint off using small secular movements within the painted area to avoid the paint mark spreading.
- The rubbing alcohol breaks down the paint structure causing it to liquefy and sticks to the rag.
- Change the position of the rag to avoid the paint already removed and stuck to it returning to the hardwood floor.
- The paint may not disappear on the first try, and repeating the step a few times may be necessary.
- Pouring rubbing alcohol onto the painted surface may require leaving it a few seconds before removing it with the cloth to allow it to dissolve and loosen the paint.
Step 4. Confirm the Results
The Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) will remove the paint from a hardwood floor and confirm its effectiveness. As the paint disappears from the hardwood floor, it will attach to the rag or paper towel.
- Continue the removal proses until all the paint is gone.
- Do not use Isopropyl alcohol on a finished hardwood floor because it may remove the wood's varnish, oil, or protection.
- Rubbing alcohol on a finished hardwood floor may require re-sanding and re-varnishing that portion.