How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete [Step By Step]

Spray paints are perhaps among the most efficient and convenient products to use for DIY home painting projects. 

They can provide a great facelift for many indoor and outdoor surfaces, including furniture, appliances, fencing, and many more. But as beneficial as these products may be, they also have some downsides. 

While handling spray paints, you can’t always avoid spills on the concrete floors and walls of your home. Or it may even be that your little one finds the spray bottle interesting and sprays some paint on the walls to give them a ‘tattooed’ look! 

Whatever the case, you’ll have to deal with these stains, which can seem tricky to remove. That’s why we’ve brought this guide to help you out, where we’ll be discussing the 10 best techniques for removing spray paint from concrete. 

So, let’s dive in!

Techniques To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete

Close up hand of craftsman in a glove holds brush for removing rust

We’ve curated this list in such a manner that there’s something for every DIY lover out there, irrespective of the experience he or she has in paint removal tasks. So, getting the job done won’t be a problem for anyone.

Let’s move on, now.

  1. Using Graffiti Removers

As the name suggests, these products are generally used for removing wall graffiti. They come with proprietary ingredients that can penetrate a paint to loosen its grip on concrete. 

Notably, graffiti removers are available in many forms, such as wipes, liquid solutions, trigger sprayers, pastes, and aerosol cans. To get the best results out of a particular product, you must use it as per the instructions given on the product label. 

Before we begin discussing this technique, here are the links to some popular graffiti removers that you can choose from: Graffiti Safewipes, Motsenbocker’s Lift Of Paint Scuff and Graffiti Remover, and Sunnyside Ready-Strip Graffiti Remover.

Materials You Need

To steer clear of spray paint from concrete using any of the above-mentioned graffiti removers, you will need the following materials:

  • A graffiti remover
  • A brush with stiff bristles
  • Warm Water
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • Garden Hose (for outdoors)
  • Absorbent paper towels or disposable cloths
  • Mop and bucket (for indoors)
  • Gear for protection- light-duty gloves, safety glasses, and respirator 

The Method

Before you start with the process, make it a point to put on the protective gear that we have mentioned above. Once that’s done, here are the steps that you need to follow:

Step 1 

First and foremost, you must sweep or wipe down the entire area to remove any loose or accumulated dirt. 

Step 2 

Now, apply the graffiti remover on the spray-painted concrete. Make sure the application is in line with the usage instructions on the product label. At this point, you will also have to fill the bucket with warm water and keep it aside. 

Step 3 

Next, take the brush and scrub it over the spray-painted portion in a circular motion, and then wipe the area with a paper towel or cloth. 

Step 4 

Rinse the area with clean and warm water using a hose if the surface is outdoors or with a mop for indoor surfaces. You will see the spray paint being gradually removed. 

Step 5 

You need to repeat steps 1 to 4 until the paint is totally removed from the concrete surface. In case it’s indoors, make sure you mop the area thoroughly after you’ve completed the process. 

Graffiti removers are one of the most effective chemicals for removing spray paint, and the biggest advantage is that they are very budget-friendly. On top of that, there are lots of options available from various brands. 

But let us also tell you that this procedure can be more time-consuming than some others. Hence, if the concrete needs to be cleaned quickly, this may not be the ideal method to employ. 

Furthermore, you may have to wait for some time between multiple applications of the graffiti remover before getting rid of all the paint. This duration can be 20 minutes or even more, depending on the product you’re using. 

Things To Consider

The shape of the spray-painted surface is an essential point to consider if you decide to adopt this method. This is because in case the stain is on a vertical surface, the diluted paint may drip down into unwanted areas right from when the graffiti remover starts acting on it. 

So, avoid oversaturating the area and try to contain the runoff using plastic drop cloths or painter’s tape. As for the latter, it must be the type suitable for sticking on concrete, such as theRough Surface Painter’s Tape from Scotch

  1. Scrubbing With Soap And Water

That sounds pretty plain sailing, doesn’t it? Well, this method is indeed so compared to the previous one as well as many of the subsequent ones that we’ll be discussing. But it’s quite suitable for cleaning smaller areas, as water and soap are among the most economical paint removal methods!

Materials You Need

For this technique, the equipment needed is the same as for the previous one we’ve dealt with. The only extra requirement includes a mild liquid dish-washing soap and an additional 1-gallon bucket. And again, don’t forget to put on the protective gear that we mentioned earlier. 

The Method

Step 1 

Wipe down the dirt from the spray-painted area, and then fill both buckets with warm water. Now, add a few squirts of the liquid soap to one of the buckets so that it yields a sudsy solution.  

Step 2 

Follow it up by watering the area with clear warm water, and make sure the water covers the entire spray-painted surface. 

Step 3 

After this, dip the brush in the soap solution and apply it on the spray-painted concrete in a circular pattern. This will cause the paint to loosen slowly in the form of droplets. Make sure you continue doing this for a few more minutes or until you see most of the paint loosening up.

Step 4 

Finally, use the paper towel to soak up the loosened paint, and then rinse the surface with warm and clean water. 

Step 5 

Steps 1 to 4 must be repeated till the paint gets removed completely. If you’re doing this indoors, clean the area thoroughly with a mop to remove the extra water, soap, and paint. 

What sets this technique apart from the others is that it’s the most inexpensive as well as totally non-toxic. However, the downside is that it needs more effort to tire your hands and the stronger paint stains may not be removed entirely. 

Things To Consider

Before deciding to use this technique, you must take into account the freshness of the paint for which you’re applying it. It’s usually considered to be more effective in removing the stain if the paint is fresher. 

In hindsight, the paint is absorbed deeply by the concrete because of its porous surface. With time, the paint dries up and settles into the concrete grooves, which is why it may become difficult to remove it completely with just soapy water.

In that case, vinegar may be a more effective alternative to soap for selected concrete surfaces, but you will need to dilute it properly to prevent stripping of the seal coating from the concrete. A good way would be to spot-test an adjoining area with vinegar and observe how it affects the surface. 

  1. Using A Power Washer 

Also referred to as a pressure washer, a power washer is a cleaning device that works by shooting a forceful and concentrated water stream. Effective in cleaning various surfaces, the power washing method will even be great for getting rid of stubborn spray paint from concrete.

 Materials You Need

  • A pressure washer powered by gas or electric 
  • Waterproof drop cloths or plastic sheeting
  • Protective gear including work gloves, goggles, and a respirator mask

The Method

Here are the steps you need to follow for carrying out this cleaning procedure:

Step 1 

Make the pressure washer ready for use as per the assembly and usage instructions mentioned in the user manual. Then, choose the desired spray nozzle and fix it on the wand for dispensing the water stream. 

Step 2 

After this, move 10 feet away from the affected area and point the spraying wand of the pressure washer towards one edge or point of the spray-painted area. Finally, turn the device on and move it back and forth across the area. Continue doing so until you see the spray paint being completely removed. 

The best thing about this technique is that it needs minimal preparation. You just need to prepare the pressure washer, and thereafter, it does the job by virtue of its cleaning power. Additionally, you may combine it with a graffiti remover or TSP to obtain quicker results. 

Another big advantage of using pressure washers is that you can save a lot of water. This equipment requires 80% less water than garden hoses and delivers 50 times the power of the latter. 

But despite having so many benefits, it is not the most frugal method since pressure washers are quite expensive. You may also use it by renting, but even that will be considerably expensive. Moreover getting ideal results will obviously require you to learn how to handle pressure washers properly, and that can take quite some time. 

Things To Consider

If this is the first time you’re using a pressure washer, you need to be aware of a couple of factors, like: 

  • An Adequate Water Source

Test the flow output of the water at your home by filling a 5-gallon bucket with the outdoor spigot if available. If the time taken is no more than 2 minutes, it will imply that the water has the right flow needed for operating the tool the right way. 

  • Ideal Capacity Of The Pressure Washer

A washer that has a capacity between 2,000 and 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) is suitable for removing spray paint. So, choosing a model with the right spraying power is essential to obtain the ideal result. 

  • Protecting The Surrounding Areas

The only step that you need to take care of before beginning this process is to cover the surrounding areas. Remember that applying high-pressure water on the clear areas might affect those parts adversely. 

  • Choosing The Right Nozzle

Spray nozzles are color-coded to indicate the corresponding force and angle at which the water stream can be sprayed. For dealing with spray paint, you may choose a 15 nozzle that is well-suited for spray paint removal or a number 25 nozzle that is usually required for most cleaning jobs. 

  1. Using Paint Thinners Or Strippers

A paint thinner is a chemical product that is widely used for removing paints, coatings, and finishes from a variety of surfaces. Made of solvents such as turpentine, naphtha, xylene, and denatured alcohol, it works by breaking down or thinning the paint from concrete and also cleans the underlying surface.

On the other hand, paint strippers come with a different formulation, although they function in a similar way. The compounds can either be caustic or non-caustic in nature.

Some of the most popular paint strippers include Citri-Strip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel, MAX Strip Paint & Varnish Stripper, and Dumond Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover

Materials You Need

  • A paint thinner or stripper as per your choice
  • Clean and disposable cloth
  • Protective gear including safety goggles, respirator mask, and work gloves

The Method

Step 1 

Wipe the area properly to remove all the dirt from the concrete surface. At the same time, you must ensure that the area is properly ventilated. 

Step 2 

Apply the paint stripper or thinner by following the instructions for use on the product label, and then wipe the area with a piece of disposable cloth. 

Step 3 

Keep on applying the chemical on the surface and wiping it till the paint is removed altogether. Make sure you use clean pieces of cloth for each wipe. 

You will be glad to know that this method costs much less than many others and can yield great results at the same time. And as is evident from above, the steps are also quite simple to follow. 

However, solvents for removing paint are flammable, so they should be kept away from any heat source. Never light candles or smoke while using them, and in case you’re working indoors, the risk is higher since it’s an enclosed space. So, remove any potential fire sources from the vicinity.

Things To Consider

Since the products used in this technique are essentially very strong chemicals, you should protect the surrounding area adequately to ensure that it stays unaffected. Using heavy-duty painter’s tape is a great option for this purpose, but you may also choose drop cloths that come in handy to catch any runoff from concrete surfaces.

Alternatively, you can opt for a more natural means of paint removal instead of using these strong chemical formulations. In this regard, soy gel paint strippers are an excellent example since they are harmless for the skin, odorless, and eco-friendly. 

Other than that, you may use a mineral spirit like a paint thinner, as it has a faint odor and is a popular and effective paint removal resource. 

  1. Using A Sandblaster 

Other than a pressure washer, a sandblaster is another device that can be helpful for getting rid of paint sprayed on concrete. It cleans rough surfaces by scraping them off with sand or similar materials while using an air-powered gun to fire them at high pressure. 

On that note, let us tell you that this device is powerful enough to remove concrete layers, so you should use the right technique to avoid such eventualities. The method that we will describe in the following sections will prevent such occurrences. 

Materials You Need

  • Portable sandblaster
  • A sandblasting medium such as fine sand
  • Wet-dry vacuum
  • Protective gear: sandblasting suit, gloves, mask

The Method 

Step 1 

Make sure you wear protective gear before starting off. Then stand at a distance of a few feet from the spray-painted area and turn the sandblaster on. 

Step 2 

After this, advance towards the said area and start blasting the paint, moving the nozzle back and forth quickly while you target the spray-painted portion. Repeat this procedure until the paint is completely removed. 

Step 3 

Now, take the dry/wet vacuum and use it to suck the concrete dust that has accumulated from the sandblasting procedure. In case you’re removing the stain from an outdoor concrete surface, you can use a pressure washer for intense cleaning. 

What we like the most about this method is that it can be completed relatively faster than many other methods, especially for those who are familiar with handling a sandblaster. 

However, you should keep in mind it would require renting or purchasing sandblasting equipment, and that can be considerably expensive. You will also need to bring in the medium for sandblasting and get specialized protective gear, as we have already mentioned above. Plus, the vacuum required for cleaning the area afterward should be able to handle dust generated by concrete. 

Things To Consider 

The sandblaster generates a lot of dust, so throughout the process, you must be careful not to move too close to the surface being cleaned. Furthermore, make sure you don’t point the device in one spot for too long since that would result in unequal coverage, removing the paint only partially. 

Another important factor is using the right air pressure and grit to complete the procedure as efficiently as possible. While a sandblaster with at least 50 PSI is considered ideal for the purpose, fine grit should be used if you’re planning to use sand as the medium.

  1. Using Angle Grinders

An angle grinder is a hand-operated power tool generally used for polishing and grinding purposes. But this tool can also be highly effective in removing spray paint from concrete as it grinds the paint therein. It is similar to a sander in many ways, so you can operate it by attaching different grit wheels depending on the intensity of the stain. 

However, handling an angle grinder requires considerable experience as well, and using it wrongly might lead to a drastic alteration in the concrete surface. So, if this tool is new to you, we’d suggest using a different method. 

Materials You Need

  • Angle grinder
  • Wet-dry vacuum
  • Protective gear

The Method

Step 1 

Clean the surface to get rid of any excess dirt by sweeping or wiping it down. Once done, wear the protective gear before commencing the next step. Your hands and eyes must be protected with heavy-duty gloves and goggles, respectively. 

Step 2 

Now, turn on the angle grinder while standing a few feet away from the spray-painted concrete. 

Step 3 

Follow this by lightly pressing the grinder on the edge of the stained area and then moving the tool across the area in a circular, clockwise motion. This process has to be repeated until the paint gets removed completely.  

Step 4 

Use the vacuum to suck the resultant concrete dust. If the surface is located outdoors, you can wash the area with a pressure washer for the best results. 

Long story short, if you are experienced in handling a concrete grinder, it’s an easy and quick way to clear spray paint from concrete with minimal effort. Furthermore, since this method doesn’t require the use of any toxic chemicals, it is a much safer option to employ. 

But like the other methods, this one also has some downsides. Firstly, it can take much longer than other methods that involve the use of chemicals and angle grinders are quite costly. Additionally, the cleanup is very labor-intensive as the tool generates a lot of concrete dust. 

Things To Consider

While using the angle grinder for this procedure, make sure you don’t keep the tool on one spot for too long, as then the work won’t be uniform. Move it constantly all over the area, just as you would do while using a sandblaster. After all, movement is the key to getting perfect results.  

  1. Using TSP 

Trisodium Phosphate, better known by its short-form TSP, is a potent solution that has been proven highly effective for paint removal and works in the same way as a paint stripper. This chemical is manufactured by many brands, with the most significant ones being Savogran and Sunnyside Corporation

Notably, TSP is available in liquid and powder forms, and both can be used for this method. 

Materials You Need 

  • TSP liquid or powder
  • 1-gallon and 5-gallon buckets
  • Warm water
  • A brush with stiff bristles
  • Hose (for outdoors) and mop (for indoors)
  • Protective clothing plus gear- safety glasses, respirator mask, and work gloves

The Method

Step 1 

As always, begin by wiping the area to clean the concrete surface of the extra dirt. Then take the TSP pack or bottle and dilute it in warm water as per the instructions provided on the product label. Now, fill the 1-gallon bucket with warm water and keep it aside. 

Step 2 

Next, dip the brush into the TSP solution and start scrubbing the sprayer-painted concrete. Alternatively, after scrubbing once, you can let the solution sit for about 20 minutes on the surface and then scrub again. 

Step 3 

After you’re done with the scrubbing, gently wash the area with warm water. 

Step 4 

Repeat steps 3 and 4 till the spray paint is totally removed from the surface. Finally, clean the area with a mop or hose, depending on whether the wall or floor is indoors or outdoors, respectively. 

Most DIY lovers prefer TSP for removing paint from concrete surfaces since it offers the desired results within a short span of time. Aside from that, it’s widely available at a very budget-friendly price and can be diluted and applied very easily. 

The only disadvantage of using this chemical is that it’s quite toxic in nature and needs to be handled very carefully. It is dangerous for the skin, which is why wearing protective clothing is absolutely necessary for this procedure. 

Things To Consider 

First of all, you must not carry out this paint removal method on windy days since TSP needs to be confined to the affected area only. This is essential for avoiding any possible damage to nearby equipment or plants and minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Now, here’s something that you’ll be glad to know: you can find substitute products for TSP as well, which are quite effective. Some of these products include Borax Powder and Krud Kutter TSP Substitute. 

You may even team up TSP with a power washer as the high-pressure water will be able to wash away the paint lifted by the product more quickly and effectively. In fact, this combination is among the most powerful ones to get rid of any type of spray paint on concrete. 

Considering the size of the angle grinder you’ll use is also essential since these tools are available in different sizes. For keeping the process simple, you should choose a mid-sized grinder with a length of about 6 inches or a small one of 4.5 inches.  

  1. Using Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Believe it or not, toilet bowl cleaners work really well in removing spray paint from concrete! Most of these cleaners use chlorine bleach in diluted form and other powerful ingredients that can be quite effective in removing spray paint. 

Materials You Need

  • A toilet bowl cleaner
  • Clearwater
  • A one-gallon bucket
  • A scrub brush 
  • Hand gloves 

The Method:

Step 1 

Clean the area of the excess dirt, and then scrub the brush over the spray-painted area a few times, as that might cause the paint to fade a bit. Actually, toilet bowl cleaners work more effectively on faded paints, so this preparatory step can be helpful in most cases. 

Step 2 

Now, put the cleaner solution on the stained area and let it sit in for 5 minutes, after which you’ll have to use the brush again for scrubbing the spot further. Repeat this step until you see that the paint is removed. 

Step 3 

Finally, wash the area with clear water to remove the loosened paint. You can use a mop or hose for the purpose as required. 

Well, that was easy, wasn’t it? Indeed, this is one of the most convenient ways to deal with spray paint spilled on concrete. It is also very cost-effective, as you won’t need any additional investment. After all, there’s hardly a home without a toilet cleaner!

Here, we should also mention that this technique is not so suitable for very strong paint stains spread over a large area. So, you should adopt this method only if the stains are relatively mild and limited to a small area.

Things To Consider

Many of the toilet bowl cleaners available on the market come with a strong formulation and are toxic to some extent. They may harm your skin, so while handling such solutions you should make it a point to wear protective gloves to keep your hands safe. 

Now, if you prefer using natural alternatives in place of chemical toilet cleaners, then a feasible option would be to make one at home. All you will need is just some baking soda and castile soap. 

  1. Using Acetone

Using acetone is another truly effective way out if you’re dealing with stubborn spray paint on concrete. But before we move on to the details of this procedure, here’s a note for you: make sure that the product you’re using is 100% pure acetone, as that will fetch you the best results. 

Materials You Need

  • Acetone
  • A 1-gallon bucket filled with clear water
  • Large scrub brush for better coverage
  • Work gloves

The Method

Like all of our suggested methods, make sure the area doesn’t have any dust or dirt before you start the process. 

Step 1 

To begin with, pour some water over the entire spray-painted portion. Applying water is essential throughout this process as acetone is a powerful chemical and you need to be careful not to use it in the pure concentrated form. 

Step 2 

Now is the time to pour acetone on the affected area, but be very cautious about the amount you’re pouring. It’ll be best to apply a maximum of two capfuls at a time. 

Step 3 

Pour some more water over the area and then scrub it with a large brush. 

Step 4 

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you get a perfectly clean concrete surface devoid of any paint. When you’re done, wash the surface with the remaining water in the bucket. You may use a hose or a paint sprayer if the surface is located outdoors.   

The best thing about this process is that acetone is safer than many other chemicals out there. Not only is it free from harmful vapors, but it is also less toxic in nature and is available at a very affordable price. Plus, you won’t even need to buy an extra bottle if you have a nail polish remover at home since that’s nothing but pure acetone.

While the product is acting on the paint, it does strip off a bit of the concrete. Nonetheless, rest assured that the surface won’t be affected to a great extent since the acetone is diluted at every step by applying water throughout. 

Things To Consider

Using the right brush is important for this procedure. We’d suggest using a stronger and high-quality brush such as one with a wooden structure and metal bristles. Any large scrub brush, especially those that you use for cleaning the grill at home will be a good option.

  1. Using Muriatic Acid

In case you don’t get the desired result by employing any of the techniques discussed now, you can try using muriatic acid. But it is a very strong chemical and can affect the concrete adversely if you don’t proceed in the right way. So, you need to be extra cautious throughout the process. 

Also, it is a must to wear acid-resistant heavy-duty gloves, boots, and a respirator mask while handling this chemical as it is very toxic in nature. 

Materials You Need

  • Muriatic acid
  • 1-gallon bucket
  • Clearwater
  • Broom or brush with hard bristles

The Method

Step 1 

Take the 1-gallon bucket and make a solution comprising 8 parts water and 1 part muriatic acid. Be careful to pour the acid gently into the water (and not the other way around) to avoid any splashing. 

Step 2 

Following this, you will have to pour the solution directly onto the stained area. You may pour the entire solution at once or add it gradually as per your preference.

Step 3 

Now, take the brush or broom and move it back and forth over the area to scrub off the paint. 

Step 4 

You can then complete the process by adding water to the area, but you will have to repeat steps 2 & 3 till the paint is gone for good. And naturally, if you’re adding low amounts of the muriatic acid solution each time, the process will be lengthier. 

This procedure can help remove the toughest spray paint stains from concrete. But it is more suitable for DIY lovers who have sufficient prior experience in carrying out spray paint removal tasks. 

Things To Consider

If you’re dealing with multiple coats of spray paint, they may not be removed completely by the acid in one attempt. In that case, you’ll have to carry out this process for a few successive days. It will also be beneficial to use a floor scrubber along with the brush, as that will provide better results. 

Besides, keep in mind that muriatic acid can etch the surface if it is left for too long, so wash the area thoroughly with water after you’re done.

Graffiti artist paints colorful graffiti on a concrete wall. Modern art, urban concept.

Final Words

Now that we’ve almost reached the end of this guide, doesn’t removing paint from concrete seem much less complicated? No matter which method you follow, following each step correctly will do the trick. 

So, take your pick according to your requirements and go ahead with it! Remember, the quicker you address the stain, the better will be the chances of getting it removed completely. And before getting started with the task, make sure you have the required products, tools, and/or devices with you. Also, don’t forget to keep protective gear handy.

With that, we’ll take your leave for now. Till next time, take care!

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