How To Get Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood? (5-Step Guide)

Generally, there are two main reasons that someone might need to get acrylic paint off of wood. Either the paint was accidentally spilled, or the old paint finish needs to be replaced with a new one. No matter the reason, there are plenty of different ways to remove acrylic paint from a wood surface. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s go over the top ways to do this as easily as possible.

What You Need To Know About Getting Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood

Lucky for us, acrylic paints are easier to remove from wood than oil-based paints. This is because they don’t adhere to wood as well as oil-based paints, which are known for soaking beneath the surface for added protection. 

As they say, there is more than one way to bake a cake, and there are a handful of ways that you can effectively remove unwanted acrylic paint from wood. These methods fall into three different categories, including using physical abrasion (like sanding or scraping), soap & water, or applying a solvent. Regardless of your approach, you can be sure that they will all work.

Supplies You’ll Need For Getting Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood

  • Soap & water
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint scraper/putty knife
  • Brush/cloth
  • Heat gun
  • Bucket
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Denatured alcohol/isopropyl alcohol/lacquer thinner
  • Fan

How To Get Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood (5 Steps)

Step 1: Determine Your Plan Of Attack

Consider the size of your project and your time constraints so that you can choose the easiest method to get unwanted acrylic paint off of your wood. 

Small projects like spot-treating floors and furniture can be accomplished with any method. Soap & water or scraping are the safest since you don’t have to use harmful chemicals, but they can take longer. If you are working on a large floor that is covered in paint, you might want to opt for something stronger like a solvent to save time.

Many solvents shouldn’t be used on finished surfaces because they can strip or dull things like polyurethane, plus they can be potentially harmful to your health. That means if you are working on a finished piece of wood, either be very careful in applying a solvent or use another method. Solvents can also damage and stain unfinished wood, so use them sparingly.

Step 2: Start With Soap & Water

To avoid creating any irreversible damage, soap and water are usually the best place to start. This method can be time-consuming, but it comes with less risk. It works best if the paint hasn’t had time to fully dry.

Get a warm damp cloth and rub off as much paint as you can, switching out for clean cloths periodically. Apply a small amount of soap to the dishcloth and continue to wipe clean. Dry the wood with a clean rag to avoid water damage, and give the wood plenty of time to dry before attempting any other methods on this list.

Step 3: Scrape Or Sand

Be sure to use safety goggles and gloves for this process. If the acrylic paint has had time to dry, then soap and water might not be enough to get them off. This is where you can use a paint scraper, putty knife, or sandpaper to remove acrylic paint. If using sandpaper, be sure not to damage any of the surrounding wood. It is a good idea to start with finer sandpaper (220 grit or higher) for smaller areas or coarser sandpaper (under 220 grit) for large areas completely covered in paint.

You can also incorporate a heat gun to weaken the bond between the paint and wood. Hold it six inches away and slowly move the gun to warm the paint up, then scrape the softened paint away.

Step 4: Apply A Solvent

Solvents are great for quickly removing acrylic paint from wood, but you have to be careful when doing so. This is especially true for finished surfaces. Things like rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol or denatured alcohol are strong enough to remove acrylic paint from wood but aren’t quite as harmful as ammonia or acetone.

Be sure your room is well-ventilated, and protect your eyes and skin from these chemicals. Use very small amounts on a cloth and apply to affected areas. Repeat this process while wiping away any excess liquid in between.

Step 5: Inspect Your Wood

Make sure that all of the unwanted paint is removed, and allow ample time for the wood to dry if you are planning on adding a new finish to the wood. Keep in mind that you may have to repeat these processes more than once to fully remove acrylic paint.

Final Thoughts On Getting Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood

There are tons of different ways to remove acrylic paint from wood surfaces. It is a solid idea to start with less harmful methods like soap and water. Then you can always employ stronger methods if the paint won’t cooperate.

Meet your Flooring Expert

Travis McCullough

Travis McCullough

Travis is a lifelong jack-of-all-trades in the construction industry with 20 years of experience in a variety of fields. He’s tackled flooring, carpentry, and everything in between on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes.
Working independently and as part of a crew has equipped him with the know-how to not only complete a project but also teach others the finer points within most building professions. When he isn’t out hanging off of a ladder or crawling around on a roof, Travis spends his time educating people about the construction industry.

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