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How to Remove Paint from Concrete with a Grinder (3 Steps)

Collage of How to remove paint from concrete with grinder.

Whether it is your porch, garage floor, or other painted concrete surface, at some point, you may want to take the existing paint off. Normally paint on concrete takes punishment, and the paint is damaged, and a repair and repaint is necessary, or you might want the bare concrete back. Either way, you need to get rid of the existing paint. Luckily removing paint from concrete can be done yourself.

Removing paint from concrete is a task that you can do yourself. Paint surfaces flake, scratch, and fade over time, and there are more than one prosses to remove it. A corded grinder, cup wheel, and some protective gear is the simplest and fastest method to remove paint from concrete.

Weather and foot traffic has an impact on any concrete-painted surface. Walking out onto your porch and seeing the badly damaged paint can be disheartening. After consulting a professional, you may have thought to do it yourself; well, now you can. With a few DIY options available to remove paint from concrete, using a grinder and cup wheel is the easiest, and here are a few simple steps to do it yourself:

How to Remove Paint from Concrete with Grinder - Step 3: Grind Paint From the Concrete (Procedure)

How To Remove Paint From Concrete With Grinder

Materials

  • 4-inch Diamond Cup Wheel
  • Concrete paint stripper (remover)

Tools

  • Corded angle grinder
  • Angle grinder dust cover
  • Wire brush
  • Dust mask
  • Protective eyewear
  • Broom
  • Vacuum cleaner

Instructions

Step 1. Corded Grinder and Safety Wear

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The foundation of every DIY project is preparation. Knowing the exact tools and materials you need is essential before attempting to do it yourself. For a DIY project to succeed, every aspect is considered and put in place before commencing with anything else. Here are the steps to prepare to remove paint from concrete:

  • Prepare the painted concrete surface by removing any loose obstacles. An open surface with nothing hindering will make grinding the paint from the floor easier and prevent any missed spots concealed under loose items.
  • Use a corded angle grinder to remove the paint from the concrete, and depending on the painted area surface size, there are different grinder options. Your standard 4.5-inch 5.5-amp grinder will likely be good enough for a small to regular-size surface. For large areas renting a floor grinder could cost a bit more but will save you time and energy.
  • Ensure the power extension is long enough to cover the entire painted concrete area and that your grinder can reach every corner.
  • Put on a protective dust mask. Grinding paint from a concrete floor creates dust, and inhaling these particles is not good. An N95 or better mask is the best choice because a surgical mask won't protect against concrete dust adequately. Working with a mask is uncomfortable, but safety trumps comfort every time.
  • Wear safety glasses (safety goggles) when grinding your painted concrete. A grinder that removes pain spins at high speed, and a piece of debris shot into your eye can lead to irreparable damage. Ensure that the safety goggles have side protection, especially for dust and small particles.

DIY projects are fun and can save a lot of money, but getting injured could be costly and ruin the experience. Safety wear is crucial with any DIY project, especially because the tools and methods are unfamiliar. Rather safe than sorry should be every DIY project motto.

Step 2. Fit Correct Diamond Cup Wheel and Accessories

How to Remove Paint from Concrete with Grinder - Step 2. Fit Correct Diamond Cup Wheel and Accessories

Grinders have a variety of disks and accessories. Each disk and accessory is designed for a unique purpose and using the wrong cutting wheel and accessories can lead to injury or worse.

Removing paint from concrete requires a 4-inch diamond cup wheel and dust covers specially designed for removing paint from concrete. Here are the steps to implement the cup wheel and dustcover:

  • Fit an angle grinder dust cover. Make sure it is secure. The dust cover surrounds the diamond cup wheel to prevent dust from escaping. A dust cover is a helpful tool, especially when you remove paint from concrete indoors or in an enclosed area.
  • Fit the 4-inch diamond cup wheel to the angle grinder. Using a grinder tightening tool, secure the diamond cup wheel to ensure it stays attached throughout the paint removal process. This step is important because a loose cup wheel could cause serious damage or
    injury.
  • Attach a vacuum cleaner pipe to the angle grinder dust cover to suck up all the dust while you are grinding the paint off the concrete floor. The vacuum cleaner will suck up all the paint dust and reduce your chance of inhaling dust.

If the surface where you are removing the paint from the concrete is in an open area or outside, using a grinder without a dust cover should be okay.

Not using a dust cover inside is okay, but be prepared for a lot of sweeping and vacuuming afterward. If you work without a dust cover inside, ensure good ventilation, a dust mask, and protective eyewear.

Step 3: Grind Paint From the Concrete (Procedure)

How to Remove Paint from Concrete with Grinder - Step 3: Grind Paint From the Concrete (Procedure)

With the preparation completed and the correct tools and materials in place, you can proceed to the task. Using a corded grinder and cup wheel is the fastest and most constructive way to remove paint from concrete but be assured that it still takes some effort and endurance. Here are the steps to proceed with the DIY task of removing paint from your concrete:

  • Secure the grinder with both hands. Using both hands when grinding paint from a concrete floor is important if you want to avoid injury. Having both hands on the grinder will also keep the grinder steady and prevent grinding unevenly. When removing paint from concrete with a grinder, hands are like heads; two are better than one.
  • The motion is up to every person, and there is no one correct way. Whether you prefer to grind in a circular or side-to-side motion is up to you, although keeping the same pressure and not concentrating on the same spot is recommended to avoid dents.
  • If you use a grinder dust cover, you can remove the front end of the cover. The front of the dust cover has a clip that removes easily. It will allow the diamond cup wheel to get close to the walls and corners without the end attached.
  • Proceed to grind ones over the paint of your concrete floor. If there is still paint left, go on to do it a second time. If there are still dark spots or lines, it is because of an uneven concrete surface or cracks. Using the grinder to remove those spots or cracks will cause deeper dents and be noticeable.
  • Once you have removed the paint from the floor, take the wire brush and gently brush those dents and cracks to remove the last bit of paint. Using a concrete paint stripper for the paint left in cracks where you struggle with the wire brush can help; follow manufacturer instructions carefully and wear protective gloves.
  • The wire brush is also ideal for those corners where the grinder cup wheel cannot reach. Use the wire brush with care because the wire brush can leave scrape marks if you concentrate on one spot too long. Using some paint stripper if it is a deep crack is a helpful alternative.
  • Finally, it is time to clean. Sweep the dust that escaped the grinder dust cover and any access debris left from the wire brush. Taking a spray bottle and lightly spraying the dust will help avoid dust spreading when you sweep. Keep spray light so it will not become muddy and a bigger cleaning job.
  • Vacuum the paint-free concrete, and you are ready to start the next coat of paint or leave it natural. A household vacuum should work fine with your dust cover, but a better alternative would be to rent a concrete dust vacuum. If your partner allows you to use the house vacuum, fitting a dust sock to the filter is a good idea for that extra protection.

The grinder and cup wheel gives an excellent smooth finish. Sometimes, it takes off other bumps and nobs that were part of the original concrete casting. The circular motion of the diamond cup wheel can sometimes be misleading to the eye, making it look as if the surface is rough, but as you continue, it disappears, and painting the concrete will leave no traces from the grinding project.

DIY project is finished once everything is clean and the project works as it should. If you remove the paint from the concrete and you are going to paint the surface again, cleaning and removing the dust is the first step to preparing the concrete for a new coat of paint. A pressure washer is a good tool, especially for cleaning after you remove the paint with the grinder and cup wheel if you are going to repaint.

Notes

Here's a link showing the paint removed with a corded grinder and diamond cup wheel with a dust cover.

Did you make this project?

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Resources:

YouTube/B.K. Williams: How to Remove Paint from Concrete

 

The Spruce: How to Remove Paint From Concrete

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