How to Remove Paint From Asphalt 


Last updated: October 5, 2023

Learn the tricks and hacks of removing paint from asphalt surfaces from this professional step-by-step guide.

How to remove paint from asphalt

Removing paint from asphalt surfaces, driveways, or parking lots is challenging. If you employ the manual way of scraping it off, you could end up damaging the asphalt surface instead. 

On the other hand, some paint removal solutions can be highly toxic, and using them to remove paint overspray can further damage the asphalt surface.

That doesn’t mean you cannot remove paint overspray from asphalt. Rather, it means you should be cautious about the method you employ. 

There are practical and safer ways to remove spray paint from asphalt. If you’re new to this concept, you should not attempt to remove paint from delicate surfaces like asphalt.

We suggest you should first learn how to remove paint from asphalt. This step-by-step guide for beginners should be your starting point.   

How to Remove Paint From Asphalt

Depending on the extent of the paint stains you want to remove, you can use heavy commercial methods like pressure washing, power washing, sandblasting, or dry ice blasting. Alternatively, you can use mild solutions like mineral spirits or vinegar or apply a new coat of black paint over the stain.

What is an Asphalt Surface?

Asphalt is a porous material used to construct and maintain transport infrastructure such as roads, railway tracks, bike lanes, airport runways, sidewalks, etc. It’s primarily a mixture of binder, filet, and aggregates. 

Traditionally, aggregates were mostly sand, slag, gravel, and crushed rocks. However, today’s construction technology uses debris and similar waste and by-products as aggregates. 

A binder such as bitumen is then used to bind these by-products into a cohesive mixture that produces what we know as asphalt. 

What Type of Paint Sticks on Asphalt Surfaces?

There are several different types of paint, and some of them stick better on asphalt surfaces than others. Such paints can be tough to remove once they spill and dry on asphalt surfaces.

Removing such paints requires special paint removal solutions and techniques, which you should be fully aware of before attempting to remove them from asphalt shingles. A few examples of paints that will stick on asphalt surfaces include: 

Coal Tar Paint 

Coal tar paint is a caustic paint made primarily of multiple polymers for durability. It is usually used to paint concrete, especially roads and parking lots, because it can withstand high traffic and excess UV rays. As a sealant, removing it from an asphalt surface can be difficult once it spills. 

Acrylic Paint 

Acrylic paint is the most preferred paint choice for most asphalt professionals. It’s generally a water-soluble paint that contains polymer and other long-lasting properties.

Because it adheres perfectly to asphalt surfaces, it can be challenging to remove in case of overspray or overspill. 

Such is the case with most water-based paints, including some types of latex paints, and removing them from asphalt can be tricky. 

How to Remove Paint from Asphalt Surfaces?

Before you attempt to remove spray paint from asphalt, you need to be aware of the best methods for paint removal, complete with the necessary tools. 

You can purchase some of these tools at your local hardware store, while for the more expensive ones, like a pressure washer, renting is a better option.

Below is a list of the tools you’ll need and how to use each of them to make your asphalt parking lot or driveway free of paint marks. 

Tools You Need to Remove Paint From Asphalt Surfaces

Let’s go over the tools you’ll need for the job and the steps to use them. 

Using Pressure Washer

You can efficiently and safely remove paint from asphalt in several ways, but using a pressure washer is the most convenient and effective. The force from the pressure washer helps loosen the paint, which makes it easy to scrub off afterward. 

How to remove paint from asphalt.

Start by wetting the stained asphalt and add detergent soap to the pressure washer. We recommend using special paint removal soap or mild dish soap. 

The next step is turning the pressure washer on and holding it at a distance of one foot from the surface you want to clean. 

Moving from top to bottom, hover over the stained area multiple times until the paint is completely removed. If you can’t afford a pressure washer and prefer a more affordable method, follow the next step. 

Use Mineral Spirits

Using mineral spirits to remove spray paint stains from asphalt surfaces is the most straightforward and cost-effective method you can complete within minutes. 

It begins with treating the stained area. Apply a considerable amount of mineral spirits on the surface and let it sit for a few minutes. 

Now use a stiff brush to scrub the paint until it’s completely removed. Please give it a final rinse with lots of clean water to remove the paint and mineral spirits residues, then allow it to dry. 

Chemical Paint Stripper

Unlike mineral spirits, using a chemical paint stripper involves multiple steps and specialized equipment and chemicals.

You must clean the asphalt surface first to remove dirt and debris before applying a chemical paint stripper and allowing it to soak for a specific time.

Once the stripper has thoroughly penetrated the paint and broken it up, use a high-pressure washer to clean it up and remove the stripper and paint residues from the asphalt surface.

Sandblasting Method 

Again, just like a chemical paint stripper, this method requires initial surface cleaning before setting up a sandblaster. From there, choose your desired level of abrasiveness, then blast the paint off before thoroughly cleaning and rinsing to remove the loose paint. 

The above are a few examples of tools and methods of spray paint removal from your driveway or parking lot. Some of these methods are relatively cheap and easy to carry out. 

But our comprehensive guide on how to remove paint overspray from asphalt shingles is not complete without using different blasting techniques, including dry ice blasting, shot blasting, and hydro water blasting.  

How to Remove Paint From Asphalt by  Blasting 

Dry Ice Blasting

As the name implies, dry ice blasting involves using dry ice or frozen carbon dioxide to remove dried paint from asphalt.

It’s one of the quickest processes where all you have to do is blast the dry ice onto the asphalt, and voila, the paint will instantly be off the surface. 

This method is easy and practical because it leaves no marks or damage on the asphalt once the paint is removed. 

Shot Blaster Method 

Start by cleaning the area and clearing any visible debris, then apply a layer of paint on the stained asphalt. From there, apply a  high-pressure stream of sand to remove the paint.

Water Hydro Blasting 

This process involves using water hydro, where the high-pressure water stream breaks down the paint from the asphalt surface, making it easy to remove. You can also use water hydro blasting to remove other forms of build-up from asphalt surfaces.

Best Paint Removers For Asphalt.

Owing to the number of paint removers in the market, choosing the best paint removers for asphalt can be a difficult task. To make the process easier for you, we’ve done our research and compiled 3 best paint removers for asphalt in the following section.

  1. Motsenbockers Lift Off 41103 32 Ounce Premium Spray Paint And Graffiti remover.

The Motsenbockers Lift Off spray paint and graffiti remover uses a patented water-based formula to safely and easily remove spray paints, semi-gloss, high gloss, enamel, and acrylic paints from various surfaces including asphalt.

Second, this remover is naturally safe for the existing paint surfaces. It does not affect the original paint when used, instead it only works between the paint and the surface to weaken the molecular bonds for easy paint removal, leaving the original painted surface intact.

This paint remover is also a safer alternative to strong chemicals that can cause health complications or environmental hazards. What’s more, this product can be used on multiple surfaces including, porous, soft, non-porous, or hard surfaces.

What we liked

  • Safer alternative to harsh chemicals. 
  • Works on multiple surfaces.
  • Does not affect the original surface paint.
  • Removes paint easily and faster.

What Could Change:

  • It is a little bit expensive for the quantity.
  1. The Max Strip Paint And Varnish Citrus Stripper.

The Max Strip Paint and Varnish Citrus Stripper is another paint removal product for various surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, wood, metal, etc. 

It removes paints, shellac, latex, oil-based coatings, polyurethane, and many more in just one application. 

The Max Strip paint remover is easy and safe to use without toxic chemicals as it does not use Methylene Chloride or NMP. Apply it evenly on the surface and leave it for 15-30 minutes then take a paint scraper to remove the loosened paint. 

The absence of unpleasant smell and harmful chemicals makes it ideal for use in confined or small spaces like garage and basement rooms. 

What We Liked

  • Easy and safe to use.
  • Does not contain toxic chemicals.
  • Works on multiple surfaces.
  • Does not have a toxic smell.

What Could Change

  • Should not be used for removal of deck coatings, baked on, or factory finished coatings like automotive paints.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Asphalt.

Spray paint on asphalt can occur from accidental spills, oversprays, or intentional vandalism by neighbors or passer-bys. 

No matter the cause, removing spray paint from asphalt is key to maintaining asphalt aesthetics and general appearance. 

While asphalt can be a bit more forgiving than other surfaces, it’s crucial to act fast and use the right tools and techniques to ensure effective removal without damaging the original color of the  asphalt. 

Here’s a step-by-step procedure to help you remove spray paint from asphalt

  • Act Quickly: Fresh spray paint is easier to remove than paint that has had time to settle and dry. If you have wet paint, dab it (don’t rub) with a soft towel or absorbent cloth to remove as much as possible before continuing with the steps below.
  • Sweep the Area: Before applying any paint cleaning medium or any other product described above, sweep away the loose dirt or debris.. This will prevent the debris from scratching the surface when you start scrubbing.
  • Test an Inconspicuous Area: Before you start removing spray paint from asphalt using the chosen removal product or solution, test it in a small, hidden area of the asphalt to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the original surface.
  • Soapy Water: Start with a solution of warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Scrub the area using a nylon brush, which is strong enough to help in paint removal but gentle enough not to ruin the original asphalt paint.
  • Commercial Paint Remover: In case you have seen that the soapy water isn’t doing the work properly, you can choose a commercial paint remover. Ensure that it’s asphalt-friendly and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using them. 
  • Pressure Washer: For stubborn paints, using a pressure washer might be an effective way to get the work done. Be careful with the pressure settings, as too much pressure can damage the asphalt. Aim the nozzle at a 45-degree angle to the stain, and keep it moving to avoid concentrating on one particular area, which can lead to erosion of asphalt from the area.
  • Reapply and Repeat: It might take several applications of the chosen solution or a combination of methods to completely remove the spray paint from asphalt surfaces. So, you need to observe how each solution or method works and adjust appropriately until you completely remove the spray paint. In simple terms, you should be patient and persistent until you are satisfied with the result. 
  • Rinse and Clean: Once you’ve successfully removed the spray paint, rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue.

Can You Use Paint Thinner on Asphalt?

Using paint thinner on asphalt is not recommended because asphalt, a type of petroleum product, could break and become weak if exposed to dangerous solvents like paint thinners. 

A weakened asphalt is easily susceptible to cracks and other damages you’d want to avoid. If you have to use paint thinner, we recommend using products formulated for use on asphalt. 

Such specialized cleaners and solvents can safely remove stains and other contaminants from asphalt surfaces, although it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on usage directions. 

How to Remove Latex Paint From Asphalt?

Unlike acrylic paint, latex paint takes longer to stick to most surfaces like asphalt unless it’s water-based. That means that should you spill latex paint on asphalt, it will take a few days to stick to the surface. Before it does, the paint may appear dry, but underneath, it could still be wet. 

Using a powerful solvent like Goof Off to remove the paint will only eat into the asphalt and worsen the situation. The best way to remove latex paint off asphalt without creating additional damage is by using pressure washing with a gas machine.

How to Remove Oil-Based Paint from Asphalt?

Try using hot water at pressure to remove oil-based paint or graffiti marks from asphalt or concrete. If the paint is too thick, combining a solvent-based paint stripper with a hot water pressure washer would get the job done perfectly. 

If you don’t own a power washer, consider renting one. If that’s out of your budget, try an equally effective solution like chemical paint stripper. 

There are chemical paint strippers designed explicitly for removing oil-based paints on concrete. 

You can readily find such products in your local hardware store, and as for usage, you’ll need to follow the instructions set out by the manufacturer.  

Not that using them is a complicated process, but following the guidelines from the manufacturer ensures that you apply the correct amount of paint stripper per square foot and the time needed to allow the chemical to work before scrubbing the paint off. 

This waiting time can be an hour or eight hours, depending on the product used and the severity of the paint stain. Once the waiting time has lapsed, scrub the affected area with a wire scrub brush to remove paint residues, then rinse it thoroughly with a power washer or a hose pipe.  

How do I Remove Paint from an Asphalt Parking Lot?

There are several instances where you’ll need to remove paint from your asphalt parking lot. It could be due to an error in the layout during construction, mismatched stencils, or accidental paint spills. 

In such cases, you can counter the problem with several solutions, such as touching up the paint that was sprayed on to black out the conflicting paint with a new one, using dustless blasting, or sandblasting the entire surface.

While sand and dustless blasting may be the best options, they are costly. First, I still need to barricade or shut down the parking lot and surrounding areas for several hours or even days until the job is done. 

This may be inconvenient if it’s a shared parking lot, and people will need to use it. Not forgetting is the cost of renting the blasting equipment and the noise, which again may be inconvenient. 

You’ll need to weigh these options before you decide to use them. But blacking out is a relatively easy and cost-effective solution involving sealing the unwanted paint with a new coat of black paint. If done correctly, the paint can be durable for many years before the next renovation. 

How to Remove Paint Lines from Asphalt?

You can employ several different methods to remove paint lines from asphalt. However, these techniques’ effectiveness depends on the type of spray paint you want to remove and how long it has been sitting on the surface. 

You can use a power washer with the nozzle held six inches from the surface to avoid potential damage to the asphalt. Alternatively, you can use a chemical paint stripper with guaranteed safety, especially those formulated for concrete paint removal. 

Even better, you can use a heat gun to soften the paint before scraping it off and rinsing it with water. A grinding machine is another effective method of removing paint lines from asphalt, but it’s more labor-intensive, so try it if you’re up to the task. 

But regardless of which method you choose, your safety should be a priority. Always wear protective gear when handling chemicals, equipment, and dusty surfaces. 

How Do You Get Paint off of Asphalt Shingles?

Have you ever wondered how to remove paint from asphalt shingles? These shingles are made of stone and asphalt and are used to protect wood underpinning from rain, thus preventing water from seeping into your house. 

Sometimes you may find it necessary to remove paint stains on your asphalt roof shingles to mitigate potential damages. 

Fortunately, the steps are as easy as wetting a rag with a paint stripper or paint remover,  then wiping the asphalt shingles vigorously until the paint is removed. 

Alternatively, you can apply several drops of rubbing alcohol on the affected areas until the paint is wet, then cover the alcohol with a plastic wrapper so it doesn’t evaporate. 

Allowing the rubbing alcohol to sit for 30 minutes will cause the paint to liquefy. Then using a clean rag to remove the liquid paint off the asphalt shingles and blotting clean water to it will give it a final rinse. 

FAQs: How to remove paint from asphalt

Can you use paint thinner on asphalt?

No. Unless the paint thinner is specifically designed for use on asphalt. You can confirm this by checking the label on the product canister. Otherwise, paint thinners are highly toxic and may eat into the asphalt, causing additional damages that may be costly. 

Does Vaseline remove paint?

Yes, it does. Vaseline is among the many household supplies that can be used to remove paint from asphalt alongside a source of heat. Nail polish and painting tape are good examples of household products that you can use to remove paint from walls. Vaseline can be used in place of nail polish or painting tape. 

Will Goof Off remove road paint?

Goof Off dies more than removing road paint. You can also use it to remove paint marks on your car, graffiti on your wall, bumper stickers on the driveway, etc. It can also make an excellent household cleaner for any surface. 

Does vinegar remove paint from concrete?

Vinegar is an effective household stain remover that works well on any surface, including concrete. Most paint removers are toxic and less eco-friendly, and vinegar is the most affordable, versatile, and safest alternative to them. Vinegar contains a mild acid that helps soften the paint making it easy to scrape off. 

How do you get dried paint off paving?

Use a chemical paint stripper for concrete, asphalt paving, or vinegar if the surface isn’t so large. Use dry ice blasting, a power washer, or mineral spirits for larger surfaces. 

Summary – Removing Paint from Asphalt Surfaces

Despite being delicate and complex, removing paint from asphalt is possible. You need to analyze the extent of the paint stain and the amount of work required to get rid of the paint. 

Some stains may cover a large surface area, making them labor-intensive and requiring costly equipment and solutions. 

Others may be minor stains that you can clear with simple homemade remedies and cheaper paint removal options. 

Depending on the amount of paint you need to remove, this guide provides all the proven steps. If you have more questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section. Otherwise, refer to this guide to maintain stain-free asphalt surfaces. 

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