There are several methods of removing paint from a concrete driveway. We can divide them roughly into two groups: chemical and mechanical methods.
In this guide, we discuss the different ways of removing paint from a concrete driveway. This guide will help you if you are preparing your driveway for a new coat of paint, epoxy or stain.
But I’ll also include tips on removing paint spills, stains and graffiti from a concrete driveway.
What You'll Learn Today
- Can You Paint Over A Painted Driveway?
- 5 Ways To remove Paint From A Concrete Driveway
- How To Remove Paint Spills, Spray Paint or Graffiti From A Concrete Driveway?
- How To Remove Epoxy From A Concrete Driveway?
- Does WD-40 Remove Paint From Concrete?
- Final Thoughts
Can You Paint Over A Painted Driveway?
You may be wondering whether you need to remove the old paint at all. Can’t you just paint over the current coat of paint?
In most cases it’s not a good idea. The old coat of paint will affect the adhesion of the new coat of paint. Unless you are painting the same color as before, the color of the old coat can affect the appearance of the new color.
That said, if the current coat of paint is not too old and is in a good condition, you can paint over it. But you’ll still need to etch or lightly sand it to allow the new coat of paint to adhere.
If you are applying an epoxy coating, you have no choice. You’ll remove the old paint anyway since you have to grind or acid wash the driveway. Both will get rid of the paint.
If you are staining your concrete driveway, you have to remove the old paint. Staining doesn’t work well on a painted or sealed driveway since it cannot penetrate deep into the concrete.
The acid stain may also react with the paint and result in an unexpected color.
The bottom line is that it’s best to remove paint from a concrete driveway before adding new paint, epoxy or stain.
As for sealed concrete, you have to grind away the sealant before putting epoxy or stain on the concrete. But if you are painting, just sanding the sealed driveway is enough for the new paint to hold.
5 Ways To remove Paint From A Concrete Driveway
1. Paint Strippers
If you don’t want to use a lot of physical effort removing paint from the driveway, a paint stripper is the best option.
Unlike grinding or sandblasting, paint strippers don’t require much work. You simply apply the stripping chemical onto the driveway and leave it to do its thing.
The main downside of paint strippers is that they contain some pretty harsh chemicals. The fumes from the paint stripper are dangerous for your health.
So you have to be very careful when using these chemicals and precisely follow the application instructions.
Note: Be sure to get a paint stripper that’s suitable for the type of paint on your driveway.
To use a paint stripper, first clean the concrete driveway with a pressure washer to get rid of debris and dirt. Give it a couple of days to fully dry.
Next, apply the paint stripper as per the instructions on the label. Remember to wear protective gear including long gloves, a respirator or face mask, and boots.
Let the stripper sit for the recommended period, usually several hours. Then blast away at the chemical and paint residue with the pressure washer (a 3000 PSI pressure washer works best).
If you still have patches of paint remaining, re-apply the paint stripper on those areas.
If you are planning to repaint the driveway or put an epoxy coat on it, grinding is the best option. It will get rid of the current paint while preparing the driveway for a new coat of paint or epoxy.
You can rent a concrete diamond grinder or have a contractor company come and grind the driveway fro you.
Note that grinding on concrete is hazardous because of the silica dust. Wear protective clothing and use the right gear such as an industrial vacuum to protect yourself.
That’s why I recommend having pros do the work. They know how to do it safely and have the right tools for the job.
If you decide to grind the driveway yourself, here’s a helpful video.
The grinder should get rid of most of the paint. If you have some patches left over, apply a paint stripper or see if you can blast them off with a pressure washer.
A sandblaster is another great option to quickly remove paint from a concrete driveway. You can rent one locally or hire pros to sandblast the driveway.
If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you wear protective clothing including safety glasses, a respiratory mask, and gloves.
Work slowly, making sure you don’t focus on one spot for too long to avoid damaging the concrete surface.
Similar to grinding, sandblasting does two things at the same time. It removes the old paint and textures the concrete surface in readiness for a new coat of paint.
However, if you are planning to apply an epoxy coat on the driveway, I recommend shot blasting instead of sandblasting.
Shot blasting involves the use of more aggressive metal shots. This creates a more adhesive surface for the epoxy to attach to.
4. Soda Blasting
If you want a method that’s gentle on your concrete driveway, try soda blasting. Instead of sand or metal, soda blasting uses special sodium bicarbonate to strip away paint.
You’ll need to buy or rent a soda blaster to use this method.
5. Pressure Washer
If you already have a 3000 PSI pressure washer at home, try to use it before renting expensive equipment or buying a bunch of chemicals.
Attach the turbo nozzle and spray at the painted driveway with a slight angle.
Using a pressure washer is slow since you are using a narrow spray, so I recommend this method for small driveways or if you are cleaning a paint spill.
It’s also a good idea to loosen the paint by pouring white vinegar on it and letting it sit for a few minutes. Vinegar is ideal for loosening water-based paint.
If you have epoxy paint or acrylic paint, use paint thinner instead.
After about half an hour, come back with the pressure washer. The paint will come off more easily.
How To Remove Paint Spills, Spray Paint or Graffiti From A Concrete Driveway?
If you have an unwanted spot of paint on your driveway from a spill, a DIY spray painting project or graffiti, it’s easy to remove.
You just need to be careful not to damage the concrete surface.
I recommend starting with mild homemade paint removers.
Start by simply washing the area. Pour warm soapy water on the spot and scrub with a stiff brush. If it’s latex paint, it’ll come off fairly easily.
Hot vinegar also works great on latex paints. Heat some white vinegar till it’s hot then pour it over the stain and let it rest for half an hour. Scrub with a stiff brush and then rinse with water.
For tough oil-based paint stains, try loosening the paint with paint thinner. Let it sit for a while then scrub and rinse.
You can also try blasting off the paint with a 3000 PSI pressure washer.
Another option is to get a small can of paint stripper and apply it on that particular spot. After the recommended waiting time, scrub with a brush then rinse.
How To Remove Epoxy From A Concrete Driveway?
Many of the methods I have outlined above for removing paint also work for removing epoxy.
Paint strippers containing dichloromethane are also effective on epoxy. But remember to practice extreme caution as the fumes are hazardous.
Sandblasting or shot blasting are also effective at removing hardened epoxy coating on a concrete surface.
However, soda blasting may not work as it’s not aggressive enough for the epoxy.
You can also grind away the epoxy coating using a diamond concrete grinder.
If you are removing epoxy from a small section, I recommend using acetone. This is the same liquid as nail polish remover. It works by dissolving the epoxy.
Soak a rag in acetone and press it down on the epoxy. After a few minutes, the epoxy softenes enough that you can scrap it away with a knife, brush or plastic scraper.
Does WD-40 Remove Paint From Concrete?
Yes, WD-40 can remove small spots of paint from concrete. But test it first on a hidden area to make sure it will not damage your concrete driveway.
If it seems safe to use, spray a bit of it on the paint stain and give it a few minutes to penetrate and loosen the paint. Scrub away the paint and rinse with water.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from for removing paint from a concrete driveway.
The best one for your situation depends on how big of an area you are dealing with, your budget (renting a grinder or sand blaster is not cheap), and your level of comfort with chemicals.