How to Get Spray Paint off Wood


Last updated: June 26, 2023

Get Spray Paint Off Wood Surfaces like a Professional Woodworker

How to get spray paint off wood.

Knowing how to get spray paint off wood is essential when the paint is weathered, or you simply want a color change.

Removing the spray paint on your wood siding, for instance, can allow you to update the look and inject a fresh breath of life into your home’s curb appeal. 

Regardless of your reason for removing the spray paint, you’ll want to use the right method and the appropriate tools to do the job correctly.

This article discusses how to get spray paint off wood surfaces such as wood floors, furniture, and other wooden items. 

You will also find answers to pertinent questions about removing spray paint from wood floors and other surfaces. 

How to Get Spray Paint off Wood

You can get spray paint off wood surfaces using a chemical stripper, pressure washer, sander, or a combination of chemicals and mechanical methods. Of all these methods, a combination of a chemical paint stripper, pressure washer, and sanding is the most effective way to remove spray paint from wood.

How to Get Spray Paint off Wood Using a Chemical Stripper 

Various chemical paint strippers on the market offer a straightforward way to remove spray paint from any wood surface. The products come with user instructions on the label to guide you through the process. 

Nonetheless, we will summarize the steps here. But first, notice that chemical paint stripers are available in two main types, which might suit your projects differently.

For removing spray paint from wood, you can use a gel-based or liquid paint stripper.

1. Gel-based paint stripper 

As the name suggests, gel-based strippers have a thick, jelly-like consistency that makes them generally easier to work with. They tend to be the preferred removers for most spray paints.

Gel-based strippers are an excellent option for getting oil-based paints off wood surfaces. Oil-based paints tend to be more difficult to remove from wood, and the thick consistency of gel-based strippers allows for ample time for stripping paint. 

2. Liquid Paint Stripper.

As you might have guessed, liquid paint strippers have a thin consistency that makes them relatively more challenging to use than their gel-based cousins. 

Their thin, runny consistency means they dry quickly, allowing less time to work the paint. This quality makes them suitable for water-based or latex paints. 

However, these strippers are easier to clean up.

What you will need to use a chemical paint stripper 

  • Paint stripper.
  • Applicator.
  • Plastic scrapper.
  • Personal protective gear.
  • Drop cloth.
  • Clean rags.
  • Soapy water.
  • Scrub brush or steel wool.

Procedure for removing spray paint from wood using a paint stripper 

Once you have chosen your preferred chemical stripper and assembled the required supplies, follow the procedure below to complete the project. 

But first, wear protective clothing and set up the workspace by laying a drop cloth to protect nearby surfaces and collect any spills and chemical residues. 

Step 1. Clean the painted surface

Remove dust and debris from the wood surface by wiping it with a clean rag dampened with soapy water. Then rinse the surface with clean water from a garden hose and let it dry. 

Step 2. Apply the chemical stripper 

Once the surface is clean and dry, use the applicator recommended on the chemical stripper label to apply a generous amount of it to the spray-painted surface.

Ensure you cover every inch of the wood surface where you wish to remove the paint and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Different paint strippers may specify different amounts of time, so ensure you let the chemical work for the time recommended by the manufacturer. 

During this time, the chemical will work the spray paint, lifting it off the wood surface so you can easily scrape it off. 

Step 3. Scrape away the stripper and paint residue 

Once the chemical has had time to work, use a plastic scraper to remove it. The paint should be raised above the wood and soft enough to come off when you scrape it with a plastic scraper. The chemical should lift off along with the paint residue, leaving behind bare wood.

Step 4. Clean the wood surface 

After removing the residue, use a suitable scrub brush and soapy water to clean the wood surface. 

Once all the residue is gone, rinse the wood with clean water, preferably from a garden hose, and let it dry. 

If you follow all the steps correctly, you should see the wood grain exposed. If the wood still has traces of the spray paint hiding the grain, repeat the process, starting with the stripper to the final cleaning—until you are happy with the results. 

How to Remove Spray Paint From Wood Using a Pressure Washer 

If you prefer to skip chemicals in your project, you can go for mechanical methods of removing spray paint from wood surfaces. 

One of the most effective mechanical methods is to use a pressure washer. The method involves directing a pressurized water jet to the surface where you want to remove spray paint. 

The high pressure of the water will forcefully dislodge the paint particles from the wood surface, leaving you with bare wood. 

However, notice that the pressured water can damage the wood surface, so you should only use the method for certain surfaces but not all. Ideally, we recommend it for hardwood floors but not all types of wood furniture, as it can damage any brittle wood and cause splintering. 

What you will need to use this method 

  • Pressure washer.
  • Hand gloves.

Procedure for removing spray paint from wood floors using a pressure washer  

Once you have determined that the wood is in a condition to accept pressured water, follow the steps below to complete the project. Softwoods like pine may not be ideal candidates for this method as they are more susceptible to damage.

Step 1. Choose the appropriate nozzle and set the right pressure 

Go for a wide-angle nozzle or a low-pressure nozzle for your pressure washer. Avoid using a narrow or concentrated stream, as it can dig into the wood and damage it. Next, set the pressure to a low or medium setting.

Step 2. Test the mechanism and adjust the pressure accordingly.

After setting the washer to a medium or low setting, test it out on an inconspicuous area and check for any adverse effects or damage. If the paint is not coming out as desired, increase the water pressure a little at a time and test until you get the correct setting. 

Step 3. Wet the wood 

Once you have the correct setting and you have the pressure washing equipment ready, use it to wet the entire wood surface to loosen the paint. Let the water sit on the wood for a few minutes. 

Step 4. Start pressure washing

Hold the pressure washer wand at a slight angle, about 12-18 inches away from the wood surface. 

Begin spraying with low pressure and gradually increase it if necessary (if the paint is not coming off the wood surface as desired). 

Move the wand in smooth, sweeping motions, following the grain of the wood. Avoid focusing the stream on one spot for too long to prevent damage.

Monitor the progress as you work, checking the painted area frequently as you pressure wash to see if the paint is being effectively removed. Adjust the pressure or technique as needed. 

However, the water pressure setting should preferably not go beyond 1,000 PSI for removing the old coat of spray paint on your hardwood floors or capped composite decking. 

Step 5. Assess the results 

Once you have finished pressure washing, assess the wood to determine if the spray paint has been adequately removed. If there are any remaining paint spots or stains, you may need to consider other methods, like sanding or using a chemical paint stripper.

How to get spray paint off wood using a sander

Power sanding equipment is often cheaper than a pressure washer, so it can be a more accessible tool for removing spray paint off wood floors. 

A power sander, like an electric belt sander or random orbital sander, is ideal for extensive jobs like hardwood floors and decks because it can cover a wider area faster. 

What you will need

  • Power sander.
  • Dust mask or respirator.
  • Hand gloves.
  • Protective clothing.
  • Safety goggles.
  • Vacuum, preferably with a brush attachment.

Procedure for removing spray paint using a sander

After assembling the required supplies, follow these steps to complete the project. 

Step 1. Prepare the work area in a well-ventilated space and wear your protective gear. 

Step 2. Secure the wood if necessary. This may involve clamping the wood to a workbench or stable surface to avoid movement or excessive vibration. 

Step 3. Sand the wood with coarse grit sandpaper, such as 80 or 100-grit, moving the sander in the direction of the wood grain. Apply even pressure and work in manageable sections until you have covered the entire surface. 

Step 4. Switch to finer grit sandpaper and go over the entire wood surface with the same technique as the first. Sand with the grain of the wood to achieve a uniform and smooth finish. While at it, check your progress and focus on spots or areas with stubborn paint. 

Step 5. Clean up the dust using a vacuum cleaner, preferably with a brush attachment. You could also use a brush to remove the dust from the wood surface and its surrounding area. Once done, use a damp cloth to wipe the entire wood surface to remove any remaining dust particles.

How to get spray paint off wood floors

Getting spray paint off wood floors requires using a combination of chemical and mechanical methods for the best results. 

This involves using a chemical paint stripper to soften and lift the weathered paint off the wood. The next step is to use the pressure washer to quickly and efficiently remove the loose paint and let the surface dry. A power sander then follows to remove any leftover paint while also simultaneously smoothing the wood. 

What You Will Need.

  • Chemical paint stripper.
  • Pressure washer.
  • Plastic sheeting or drop cloths.
  • Power sander.
  • Protective clothing.
  • Gloves.
  • Respirator mask.
  • Goggles.
  • A deck brightener or neutralizer.

Procedure for getting spray paint off wood floors 

Step 1. Prepare the hardwood floor 

Start by sweeping the floor to remove any debris and dust before applying any chemical stripper on it. 

Also, use plastic sheeting or drop cloth to cover any surfaces that you don’t want the chemical and sanding dust to come in contact with.

Step 2. Apply the stripper

The method for applying the stripper will depend on the type used. For a gel paint stripper, the thick consistency means you must apply them by hand and then use a chip brush to spread them over the entire surface where you want the paint to come off. 

For a liquid stripper, the process can be much faster. Simply use a pressurized sprayer to apply it to the surface fast and with less effort. 

Whichever type is used, allow the stripper to sit on the wood surface for the time recommended on the label. 

Step 3. Remove the paint and chemical residue with a pressure washer

Once the chemical has had enough time to lift the paint off the wood, you should notice the paint bubble and appear loose. At this point, set up your pressure washer and use it to spray the paint off the wood surface. 

Use your manual to set up the equipment to a medium-pressure setting and spray the wood floor with sweeping motions along the wood grain. 

Work methodically across the floor. Start in one area heading toward the other, and be keen to ensure you spray off every ounce of loose paint on that area before moving to the next.

Once you have removed all the paint, let the floor dry. 

Step 4. Remove any leftover floor paint with a power sander

Once the floor is completely dry, examine it for any leftover paint, then use a power sander to remove the paint left in those areas. 

There are many types of power sanders on the market, but a belt sander should be best. It does an excellent job covering a large area in less time and works pretty quickly.

Step 5. Apply a neutralizer or brightener 

The entire process may leave your wood floors looking dull and uninviting. One way to restore life on your wood is to apply your deck brightener or neutralizer once all the spray paint has come off. 

The product will also help protect the wood from future issues of mold and rot by balancing out the pH impacted by the chemicals. 

Avoid these steps and apply other ways of removing spray paint overspray if the paint covers small areas of the wood floor.

How to remove spray paint from wood furniture

The best way to remove spray paint from wood furniture is to use a citrus stripper such as CitriStrip. 

Tools and materials.

  • Personal protective gear.
  • Citrus-based paint stripper.
  • Drop cloth.
  • Sander and sandpaper.
  • Pressure washer.
  • Brightener or neutralizer.


  • Set up your work area and wear protective gloves.
  • Clean the wood surface to remove any traces of dust and debris.
  • Apply the chemical stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Spray away the chemical and paint debris using a pressure washer and let the furniture dry.
  • Sand the furniture to remove any leftover paint and smooth the wood.

How to remove spray paint from wood without damaging it?

To remove spray paints from wood without damaging it, use a natural paint stripper like CitriStrip. Once the stripper has had time to bubble the paint, scrape it away with a plastic scrapper and then sand the wood along the grain to smooth the wood and remove leftover paint. 

FAQs – Removing Spray Paint from Wood

What paint remover won’t damage wood?

Citrus-based paint remover won’t damage the wood. These removers have a natural scent and are benign, working more slowly in paint removal. They are different from harsh chemicals that work more aggressively, with a greater likelihood of damaging the wood. 

Does vinegar remove spray paint from wood?

Yes. Vinegar and baking soda are some effective alternative ways of removing spray paint from wood without causing damage. The product is not as effective as a specialized chemical stripper, so it may work slowly and require some elbow grease. 

How do you remove dried paint off wood without damaging the finish?

To remove dried paint from wood without damaging the finish, consider using a solvent such as denatured alcohol (recommended for latex paint drips). Alternatively, you can use a product like Goof-Off, available in hardware stores and paint-selling outlets.

Does hairspray remove spray paint?

Yes, hairspray removes spray paint. Hairspray has alcohol in its formula that breaks down the bonds in spray paint, causing them to come off the substrate. Other alcohol-based products that can give similar results include rubbing alcohol and paint thinner. 

Does easy off remove spray paint?

Yes, Easy off oven cleaner removes spray pain or any paint type the same way it does grime and dirt in the oven. It works by loosening the spray paint from the substrate surface, allowing the paint to come off when you wipe it away.

Can acetone remove paint from wood?

Absolutely. Acetone is a solvent found in products like nail polish remover, which is highly effective in removing paint from various surfaces; wood included.

Conclusion – How to remove spray paint from wood

Removing spray paint from wood decks is an essential step in refinishing a painted floor or furniture. You may also want to remove spray paint from wood if it gets where you do not want it.

The reason notwithstanding, knowing how to get spray paint off wood surfaces will help make your project successful. 

This article provides the best and most effective methods for removing spray paint from various wood surfaces. We hope this helps you out. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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