How to Remove Spray Paint From Concrete (7 DIY Methods)

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Maybe your painting project went a tad off the rails. Or, perhaps your children got a hold of some spray paint and decided to give the driveway or basement floor a new look.

No matter how it happened, there’s no need to panic.

In this article, I’ll teach you 7 proven ways you can remove spray paint from concrete.

I deep dive into the materials needed, level of difficulty, considerations, pros, and cons of each method so that you can choose the one that feels most comfortable.

Plus, I guide you through each step, so you know exactly what to do.

I ordered the methods based on the level of difficulty. Start with Method 1 and, if that doesn’t do the trick, move on to the next.

Without further ado, let’s get into each method!

Use the links below to navigate the article:

Method 1: Scrub With Soap and Water

Method 1 is to clean spray paint off concrete with items you already have around the house—water, soap, and a stiff-bristle brush.

I recommend starting with this method, especially if the area your cleaning is small, because it’s the safest and most economical solution.

Materials Needed:

  • Scrub brush with stiff bristles (like this one on Amazon)
  • Two 1-gallon buckets
  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Heavy-duty, absorbent paper towels
  • Garden hose (if outdoors)
  • Mop and bucket (if indoors)
  • Protective gear (safety glasses or goggles, light-duty gloves, respirator)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Sweep or wipe down the area to remove excess dirt.
  2. Put on your protective gear.
  3. In one bucket, add warm water.
  4. In the other bucket, add warm water and a few squirts of dish soap. Just enough to get a sudsy solution.
  5. Wet the affected area with the warm, suds-free water.
  6. Dip the brush in the solution and then apply the brush to the spray-painted concrete with circular movements.
  7. Blot the area with a paper towel to soak up loosened paint and then rinse with clean, warm water (or use a hose if outside).
  8. Repeat this process until you remove all the paint. If indoors, mop the area thoroughly when you are finished.

Pros:

This is the least expensive, non-toxic method for spray paint removal from concrete. You probably already own most of the required materials.

Cons:

Out of all seven methods, this method uses the mildest solution, so it may take more work to remove the paint. Depending on how long the spray paint has been on the surface, using this method might not remove it entirely.

Considerations:

This method (along with the other six ) is most effective if the spray paint is fresh.

Why?

Because concrete is porous and absorbs paint deeply. Once the paint dries and settles into the grooves of the concrete, it’s difficult to remove with just soap, water, and elbow grease.

Regardless, it’s worth a try it on old paint as a first measure before bringing in the big guns like chemicals and equipment.

Also, consider that you may need to apply this method a few times to achieve your desired result.

White vinegar is versatile and can be used to clean a variety of surfaces, which is why some people recommend using it to remove paint.

However, I caution against using it on concrete—especially a sealed concrete floor. If you fail to dilute it correctly, the acid could strip the seal coating.

For all who swear by vinegar, I urge you to spot test an area first to see how it affects your surface, but again, I don’t recommend it.

Use a brush with stiff bristles to concentrate the scrubbing motion more vigorously. A good example is the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush (see on Amazon) for small spaces, the OXO Good Grips All Purpose Scrub Brush (see on Amazon) for larger jobs, or the MEIBEI Floor Scrub Brush (see on Amazon) for huge jobs. Don’t use a wire brush on concrete; it can ruin the surface.

Choose a mild dish soap such as Joy, Dawn, or Seventh Generation to create your cleaning solution.

As a precaution, wear protective gear that covers your hands, eyes, nose, and mouth, such as gloves, goggles, and a paint respirator.

This gear will lessen the risk of staining your hands, soapy water splashing in your eyes, or breathing in paint molecules as you scrub them from the concrete.

Method 2: Use Graffiti Remover

If using soap and water won’t give you the results you are looking for, try a graffiti remover.

Graffiti removing products use proprietary ingredients to penetrate the paint and loosen its grip to concrete and other surfaces.

They come in many forms: aerosol cans, trigger sprayers, wipes, pastes, sponges, and liquid solutions. For best results, read and follow the instructions on the product label.

Materials Needed:

  • Graffiti remover (like this one on Amazon)
  • Scrub brush with stiff bristles
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • Warm water
  • Heavy-duty, absorbent paper towels or clean, disposable cloths
  • Garden hose (if outdoors)
  • Mop and bucket (if indoors)
  • Protective gear (safety glasses or goggles, light-duty gloves, respirator)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Sweep or wipe down the area to remove excess dirt.
  2. Put on your protective gear and prep the area if desired.
  3. Add warm water to the bucket.
  4. Apply the graffiti remover based on product instructions. You may have to let it sit.
  5. Apply the brush to the spray-painted concrete with circular movements.
  6. Blot or wipe area with a paper towel or cloth.
  7. Rinse with clean, warm water (or use a hose if outside).
  8. Repeat this process until the paint is gone. If indoors, mop the area thoroughly when you are finished.

Pros:

In general, graffiti removers are inexpensive, so you won’t break the bank with this method. You have several options to choose from, and although chemicals are involved, it’s not on the same level as using TSP or paint thinner.

Based on the effectiveness of the product, you may not need to use the scrubber; wiping the area with paper towels or cloth in between applications may be enough.

Cons:

This process uses chemicals to help remove the paint. It’s also time-consuming, so don’t start it if you’re in a hurry. Depending on the product you use, you may have to wait up to 20 minutes or more in between applications before scrubbing away the excess paint. This process may require several applications.

Considerations:

If the spray paint is on a vertical surface, keep in mind that trigger sprayers will cause the solution to drip down. Try not to oversaturate the area and consider containing runoff with painters’ tape and plastic drop cloths.

Simply tape the area under the spray paint, while attaching the drop cloth to the tape to protect the surface below the affected area. You can get painter’s tape designed to stick on concrete, such as Scotch Rough Surface Painter’s Tape (see on Amazon).

Some popular graffiti removal products are (links to Amazon): Sunnyside Ready-Strip Graffiti Remover, Graffiti Safewipes, and Motsenbocker’s Lift Of Paint Scuff and Graffiti Remover.

Be sure to wear protective gear that covers your hands, eyes, nose, and mouth.

Method 3: Use Paint Thinner or Stripper

Paint thinners and strippers work to break down or “thin” paint from multiple surfaces, including concrete.

Paint thinner is a solvent, which means that it can dissolve substances, including paint. Solvents known to remove paint include acetone, turpentine, xylene, naphtha, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and denatured alcohol.

Paint stripper, though formulated differently from paint thinner, is also designed to remove paint. It comes in non-caustic (won’t burn skin) gel and caustic, chemical (solvent-based) formulations.

Materials Needed:

  • Paint thinner or stripper of your choice (there are dozens of options on Amazon)
  • Clean, disposable cloth
  • Protective clothing and gear (safety glasses or goggles, heavy-duty work gloves, respirator)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Sweep or wipe down the area to remove excess dirt.
  2. Ensure your area is well ventilated and put on protective gear.
  3. Apply paint thinner or stripper to the affected area according to instructions on the product label.
  4. Wipe the area after the application.
  5. Apply and wipe until paint is removed and use a clean section of the cloth with each wipe.

Pros:

If you’re looking for a method that doesn’t cost much and is still highly effective, this is the one for you.  The materials are cheap, and the application is simple.

Cons:

Solvents are flammable. Keep them away from all heat sources and never smoke or light candles when using them. Vapors can linger and travel throughout a home, so you need to be very careful if you’re working indoors.

Solvents can also burn skin upon contact. You must take extra care to protect your skin beyond wearing gloves. Wear protective clothing that covers your arms. Storing and disposing of solvents also takes extra care and is governed by state laws.

Considerations:

If you are using paint thinner or stripper indoors, you must keep the area well ventilated. You must wear protective gear for your hands, eyes, nose, and mouth. Some products will burn your skin and can also cause respiratory issues if inhaled.

Opt for soy gel paint stripper like Citristrip (see on Amazon) because it is a more natural way to strip paint, typically has a more pleasant odor, and is not harmful to your skin.

Using paint thinner may smear paint, so you may want to use a clean cloth for blotting the area to have more control over your project.

If the spray paint is on a vertical surface, protect the area under the paint with heavy-duty painters’ tape and drop cloths suited for concrete to catch possible runoff.

You can also use mineral spirits as a paint thinner. The odor is weaker than paint thinner and has a good track record of successfully removing paint.

Method 4: Use TSP

TSP, or trisodium phosphate, is a potent solution proven to be effective in paint removal. One of the most popular brands are Savogran (see on Amazon).

TSP comes in powder and liquid forms and works like paint stripper.

Materials Needed:

  • TSP (powder or liquid)
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Warm water
  • Hose (if outdoors)
  • Mop (if indoors)
  • Protective clothing and gear (safety glasses or goggles, heavy-duty work gloves, respirator)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Sweep or wipe down the area to remove excess dirt.
  2. Put on protective clothing and gear.
  3. Follow directions for diluting TSP in warm water.
  4. Set a 1-gallon bucket of clean, warm water to the side.
  5. Dip the brush into the solution and begin to scrub the painted concrete (you can also scrub it in and let it sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing again).
  6. Rinse the affected area with clean, warm water.
  7. Repeat this process until you remove the spray paint.
  8. Use a hose or mop for a final cleaning of the area.

Pros:

Using TSP is, hands-down, one of the most effective ways to remove spray paint from concrete. It’s readily available, relatively inexpensive, and easy to dilute and apply. There are even no-rinse TSP substitute options available such as Jasco TSP Substitute (see on Amazon).

Cons:

TSP is a toxic solution. You must take extreme measures to protect yourself when using it. You absolutely must wear protective clothing and gear without exception. Some local governments and municipalities may limit its use or ban it altogether, so check to ensure compliance.

Considerations:

It’s generally agreed upon in the home improvement world that TSP is an excellent cleaner and paint remover—even when battling old paint.

But, it’s also known to be extremely toxic, harmful to the environment if allowed to run off into bodies of water, and, in some cases, banned or limited by local governments.

There are TSP alternative products that do a good job but still can’t match the power of the real thing. One such alternative is Borax powder (see on Amazon) and other products like Krud Kutter TSP Substitute (see on Amazon).

If using TSP outdoors, don’t use it on a windy day. You want to confine the product as much as possible to avoid damage to nearby plants and minimize environmental impact.

You must wear protective clothing and gear that covers your hands, arms, eyes, nose, and mouth. Don’t allow TSP to touch your skin and use a respirator to protect your lungs.

TSP is an excellent product to team up with a pressure washer. The TSP will lift the paint, and the water will wash it away. The combination of TSP and power washing is one of the most powerful and effective ways to remove spray paint from concrete.

 Speaking of which…

Method 5: Use a Power Washer

A power washer, also known as a pressure washer, is a device that shoots a concentrated, forceful stream of water.

Power washing is a highly-effective method for cleaning a variety of substances and surfaces, and it works wonders when it comes to removing spray paint from concrete.

Materials Needed:

  • Electric or gas powered pressure washer (2,000 – 3,000 psi)
  • Plastic sheeting or heavy-duty, waterproof drop cloths to protect nearby areas from spray
  • Protective gear (goggles, heavy-duty work gloves, respirator)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Put on protective gear.
  2. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for assembly and use of the power washer.
  3. Choose and affix the desired nozzle.
  4. Standing 10 feet away from the affected area, point the sprayer toward one edge of the affected area.
  5. Turn on the sprayer and use a back and forth sweeping motion across the concrete.
  6. Clean the affected area until you remove the spray paint.

Pros:

This method is highly effective, especially if you’re trying to remove spray paint from a large concrete surface. You can even combine it with a graffiti-removing product or TSP for faster results, but it’s not necessary.

Using a power washer also saves water. Power washers use 80 percent less water than a garden hose and provide 50 times the power. With proper training, this can be a safe and effective method.

Cons:

If you’re trying to be frugal, using a power washer might not be the best option for you. This is one of the most expensive methods because you either need to buy a pressure washer (check current prices on Amazon) or rent one.

Additionally, this isn’t the quickest method. Although most power washers are pretty easy to operate, you’ll need to spend some time learning how to use your particular machine.

Considerations:

If you’ve never used a power washer, there are a few things you should know.

  • Use a pressure washer with a capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 psi: There are electric and gas-powered washers of different capacities. Choosing one with the right amount of power is essential for removing spray paint.
  • Be sure your water source is adequate: Test your flow output by filling a 5-gallon bucket of water with your outdoor spigot. If it takes up to two minutes, you are good to go. If it takes longer, you may not have the flow you need to operate the tool properly.
  • Prep your area: Cover any areas you want to protect from the pressure wash.
  • Be careful; this tool is powerful: Protecting your skin and having a firm grip on the sprayer is a must. The force of the water can slice through the skin like a sharp knife. Wear protective gear on your hands, and be sure to wear safety goggles to shield your eyes from flying debris. Additionally, keep children and pets away when using and steer clear of delicate features in your yard to avoid damage from a misguided spray stream.
  • Choose the right nozzle for the job: Nozzles are color-coded to indicate the angle and force of the water stream. For removing spray paint, you may want to choose a 15 (best-suited for paint removal), 25 (standard for most cleanup jobs), or 40-degree (all-purpose) nozzle. You might want to start at 40 and then work down to 15 if you need more power.
  • Take your time: Using a power washer takes practice. Don’t stand too close to the spray-painted area. Start at least 10 feet away and gradually get closer until you get the results you desire.

And here’s another tip: seek out training! You can rent pressure washers from home improvement stores. Places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and neighborhood hardware or home improvement stores often offer workshops that teach you about tools and techniques to make your home better. And, of course, you can watch instructional videos on YouTube.

Never use a gas-powered pressure washer in an enclosed space.

For best results, don’t pressure wash on a windy day. The wind will affect the accuracy of the stream.

Method 6: Use a Sandblaster

Removing spray paint with a sandblaster requires some know-how. If you’ve never used sandblaster, I suggest you get some training before you start.

Since it has the power to remove layers of concrete, it’s essential to use the right technique. Too much blasting can change the look and surface of the concrete.

Materials Needed:

  • Portable Sandblaster (at least 50 psi)
  • Sandblasting media (fine sandblasting sand)
  • Wet-dry vacuum (indoor/outdoor) or pressure washer (outdoor)
  • Protective gear (sandblasting suit, mask, gloves)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Put on protective gear.
  2. Standing a few feet away from the affected area, turn on sandblaster.
  3. Advance toward the area and begin to blast the paint.
  4. Move the sandblasting nozzle quickly back and forth as you target the spray-painted area.
  5. Repeat this process until you remove the paint.
  6. Use the wet/dry vac to suck up the resulting concrete dust.
  7. If outdoors, you can go over the area with a pressure washer for extra cleaning.

Pros: 

This method works really well, and you can complete the steps quickly, especially if you are familiar with how to use a sandblaster.

Cons: 

This method requires purchase or rental of sandblasting equipment, which ranges in expense. You’ll also need to buy sandblasting media and special clothing and protective gear. Because this method generates a lot of dust, it requires the use of the vacuum suitable for handling concrete dust (which is another expense if you don’t already have one).

Finally, this method is for advanced DIYers. If you’ve never used a sandblaster, I highly recommend training before you start. Check with your local home improvement store to inquire about training.

Considerations:

Sandblasting generates a lot of dust. The sandblaster blows compressed air mixed with coarse sand to remove the top layer of concrete.

It’s imperative to use equipment and clothing to protect your entire body from the power of the sandblaster. You don’t want your skin pelted with sand, breathe in concrete dust, or get sand in your eyes.

You’ll need to be protected from head to toe for safety. You can get sandblasting-safe clothing such as hoods, canvas suits, and gloves on Amazon.

You’ll also want to have a vacuum suitable for concrete dust, such as a wet/dry vac (see on Amazon).

When sandblasting, don’t point the tool in one area for too long. You’ll have success with removing paint if you continuously move the tool around to achieve an even result.

You can rent or buy a sandblaster, but I must stress to you that this method can get messy and requires training. In fact, I recommend hiring a professional if you have no experience using or choosing equipment.

You must have the right air pressure and grit in a sandblaster to get the job done. To keep it simple, choose a sandblaster with at least 50 psi of power and use fine grit sandblasting sand.

Method 7: Use an Angle Grinder

This method requires the use of an angle grinder to remove spray paint from concrete.

An angle grinder is much like a sander. You can attach different grit wheels to handle various grinding projects.

If you don’t have experience using an angle grinder, I recommend trying a different method because the wrong technique can drastically alter the concrete surface.

Materials Needed:

  • Angle grinder with paint stripping wheel and shroud
  • Wet-dry vacuum (indoor/outdoor) or pressure washer (outdoor)
  • Protective gear (goggles, respirator, gloves)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Sweep or wipe down the area to remove excess dirt.
  2. Put on protective clothing and gear.
  3. Standing a few feet away from the affected area, turn on sandblaster.
  4. Advance toward the area and turn on the grinder.
  5. Lightly press the grinder on the spray-painted area and move the tool across the area in a clockwise, circular motion.
  6. Repeat this process until you remove the paint.
  7. Use the wet/dry vac to vacuum up the resulting concrete dust.
  8. If outdoors, you can also go over the area with a pressure washer for extra cleaning.

Pros: 

If you’re familiar with an angle grinder, this is a quick and simple way to remove spray paint from concrete with minimal hassle. Since your grinding the paint off the concrete, this method does not require the use of any toxic chemicals.

Cons: 

You must rent or buy equipment and safety gear, which can get expensive. This process takes time and is better suited to an experienced DIYer. If you concentrate in one area for too long and press too hard on the grinder, you can damage the concrete. This method generates a lot of dust, so cleanup is labor-intensive.

Considerations:

Grinding, similar to sandblasting, generates a lot of dust. At a minimum, you must wear a respirator to protect your nose and mouth and tight-fitting goggles for your eyes.

I also recommend wearing heavy-duty gloves and clothing that will stand up to concrete dust particles.

To cut down on the dust, you can attach an apparatus to your angle grinder called a shroud (see on Amazon), which is a built-in vacuum.

Like sandblasting, grinding is most effective when you don’t concentrate the tool in one area for too long. As shown in this video, the constant movement of the tool along the concrete is the key to success.

You can rent or buy an angle grinder. Having a wet/dry vac is also a good idea (even if you have a shroud) to clean up concrete dust after you complete your project.

You must have the right-sized grinder and grit for the job. To keep it simple, choose a small (4.5-inch) to mid-sized (6-inch) handheld grinder and paint stripping wheel (disc).

This is an advanced DIY method, and if you don’t feel comfortable attempting this, consider hiring a professional.

Hire a Professional

If you have a substantial mess or you haven’t achieved the desired results through DIY methods, you may want to hire a professional.

One of the best places to start is your local home improvement store. Many contractors have affiliations with stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

If you want to shop around and compare prices online, try Home Advisor, a marketplace that connects home improvement professionals to homeowners.

When you add the details of your project Home Advisor, you’ll get instant quotes from local contractors, and you can check reviews and credentials to decide on who to hire.

Final Thoughts

Removing spray paint from concrete driveways, floors, walls, and sidewalks requires a little effort and patience, but is totally doable.

If you have a small area to treat, start with soap and water, TSP, paint thinner, or paint stripper. These methods are cheap, easy, and effective. Just remember to protect yourself and your surroundings, especially when using TSP or paint thinner/stripper.

If the area is huge, use a method that covers the most square footage efficiently, such as a power washer (outdoor), sandblaster, or concrete grinder (indoor/outdoor).

If the job seems overwhelming, you can always hire a professional. Use a site like Home Advisor to compare services and pricing for professionals in your area.

As a reminder, I ordered these methods based on the level of difficulty, so I suggest starting with Method 1 and working your way down.

Have you tried any of these methods before? If yes, let us know how it went. If not, which method are you planning to try? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

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