How To Get Oil-based Paint Off Hardwood Floor

Alex Mcil author
Alex Mcil

Hardwood floors are usually the most expensive out of the flooring options. A classy investment that you want to keep from damaging in order to retain its natural beauty.

That’s why it’s important to know how to remove paint stains. Paint removal is easy when it’s water-based paint, but removal of oil-based paint stains is a whole different story and requires a little more preparation and elbow grease.

That’s why I give you two easy removal solutions for stubborn oil-based paint stains from your wood floors!

“The secret of removing oil-based paint safely from hardwood floors lies in the careful selection and application of the right products, blended with a touch of patience. Always remember to use a paint stripper that’s safe for hardwood floors, and apply it carefully so as not to soak the wood and result in damage. I recommend testing the product on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the product on your flooring. Take it from me, nearly 30 years in restoration; haste doesn’t lead to good results.”

Victor Zarington, Professional Restorer

Ways To Remove Oil Based Paint Off Hardwood Floor

There are other removal methods besides the two I chose for you, but I find that these are the best ways to gently remove paint stains without much fuss. Below, you’ll find step-by-step guides that will help you remove oil-based paints like it’s just a DIY project.

how to get oil-based paint off hardwood floors

Remove Oil Based Paint By Sanding

Sanding is a good option for removing oil based paint, as it can remove paint stains no matter how old or how thick or thin the layer of paint is on your wood floor.

Step 1 – Get all of your supplies ready

Preparation is key to success, so it’s recommended to get all your supplies out and ready before starting any of the work.

To do this, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Handheld electric sander
  • Sandpapers
  • Palm sandpaper
  • A mask and goggles for your face
  • A vacuum cleaner

Step 2 – Get the electric sander ready

Preparation of this simply involves finding a reliable power source and electric sander ready to plug it in.

electric sander used to on wooden surface

Step 3 – Start with 60 grit sandpaper

Use 60 grit sandpaper which will most likely remove the thick surface layers of dried paint splatter. After you’ve finished, remove the excess paint debris and sand dust using a vacuum clearer of broom.

Step 4 – Switch to 80 grit sandpaper

Do the same thing you did with the 60 grit, but this time use 80 grit sandpaper. Sand down the paint residue. After you finish with the paint splatters, vacuum up everything again.

Step 5 – Switch to 120 grit sandpaper

The reason to do this is that the finer the sandpaper is, the smoother the wood floor finish will be on the hardwood floor. So, once you put the 120 grit on, you will probably be able to sand down most of the hardened paint or even all of it.

Step 6 – Take the handheld sandpaper

Since you probably won’t be able to get the paint out of the crevices and wood grain depressions between the hardwood flooring planks with the electrical sander, you will have to use handheld paper and get the remaining paint out.

Step 7 – Give it a final wipe

Finally just wipe the wood floor surface with a damp cloth that you’ve preferably dampened with warm water. This will make sure that you remove any remaining paint particles, as well as sanding marks from the hardwood floors.

Remove Oil Based Paint With Paint Thinner

If you want to keep the wood grain on the hardwood floors to stay completely untouched, especially if your wood floor is very grainy, then using paint thinner instead of sandpaper might be a better option for you.

Let’s see the step-by-step guide on how to do that and remove paint.

Step 1 – Get all of your supplies ready

Once again, preparation is key to success. To remove paint this way, you will need the following supplies:

  • Paint thinner
  • Cotton rags
  • Gloves
  • A mask or a respirator for your face

Step 2 – Get the paint thinner on the rags

Soak rags in the liquid thinner. The easiest way to do this is pour the thinner into a bucket of some kind and drop the rags in.

Step 3 – Rub the hardwood floors

Once the rags have been soaked, it’s time to put on the gloves and rub your hardwood floors with the soaked rags. Rub until everything’s gone. It might take two or three attempts until the thinner penetrates into the paint.

non abrasive way of removing paint from wood surface

Step 4 – Clean out the residue

After rubbing the floor surface thoroughly, just wipe the wood floor with a rag that is damp with warm water. This will soak up any thinner residue left behind on the wood surface.

Related: Find out how to remove other types of paint splatter from wooden floors. The process differs from oil based paints.

Final Thoughts

Whether you use the sanding or paint thinner method, it is always a good idea to give your wooden floors a final thorough clean with manual or automatic cleaning mop to lift any residue that has made its way to other sections of the flooring (essentially evenly cleaning throughout the floor area).

7 thoughts on “How To Get Oil-based Paint Off Hardwood Floor”

  1. Avatar
    Kelby Brightwater

    In my extensive experience with hardwood flooring, I’ve found that for oil-based paint stains, a paste made from baking soda and water can also do wonders. It’s cheap, safe for your floor, and usually works well. However, it’s worth mentioning that, regardless of the method, always try removing the stain in a small, hidden area first to ensure the floor’s finish won’t be damaged.

  2. In line with Mr. Brightwater’s suggestion, baking soda indeed can be a decent homemade solution for removing oil-based paint stains from hardwood floors. But one must be careful with the proportioning, as excessive baking soda can lead to surface discoloration. I agree with the statement about testing the method on an inconspicuous spot first, I personally cannot stress its importance enough. Also, another trick I’d add from my experience, using a plastic scraper to gently lift off the paint can help ensure you don’t cause any unintended scratches.

  3. Indeed, baking soda has several uses when dealing with stains. In my 30 years of removing stubborn oil-based paint off hardwood floors, I’ve found mineral spirits to be particularly effective. However, I cannot agree more with Geralt about being careful with homemade solutions, as little mistakes can lead to bigger problems. Testing on an inconspicuous spot first not only helps you understand the material’s reaction but also builds confidence in the process.

  4. As someone who frequently works with oil-based paint in their art ventures, I have certainly had my fair share of mishaps on our hardwood floors. Yes, removing those stains can be tedious but speaking from experience, using a mixture of vinegar and water has been effective much too often. While mineral spirits have yielded favorable results for some, the vinegar-water mixture combined with a sprinkle of patience worked wonders for me.

  5. In my decades of handiwork, I have found that steel wool and a bit of mineral oil can also effectively remove stubborn oil-based paint stains from hardwood floors.

  6. Avatar
    Julius Ciabatta

    Hey Saigon, you know that does sound effective! However, as someone who has had his fair share of oil-based paint removal mishaps from wooden surfaces, I’d suggest anybody going this route should use extra fine #0000 Steel wool. It’s less likely to leave undesirable scratch marks than the coarser varieties might, particularly on softwood.

  7. Avatar
    Fletcher Brimley

    That’s an excellent point Julius Ciabatta regarding the fine steel wool. I’ve found it can be a real lifesaver with stubborn spots while minimizing possible damage to the underlying wood. But also, using a bit of mineral spirits along with it often loosens up oil-based paints without harming the finish if you work gently.

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