How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Wood (Effective Methods + Steps)

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Are you frustrated with the sight of stubborn acrylic paint stains on your wood? Do you feel like you’ve tried every method to remove them, but nothing seems to work? 

If you’re unsure where to start, you might damage the wood in the process. To give you the proper ways to do it, our seasoned woodworking pros will show you how to remove acrylic paint from wood with ease!

What is Acrylic Paint and Why is it Popular?

Acrylic paint is a type of water-based paint made of pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Most of it does not contain harmful fumes that can be found in other types of paints.

It is available in a wide range of colors and finishes, from matte to glossy, and can be mixed with other colors to create custom shades. It is also known for its durability, resistance to water and fading, and ease of cleanup with soap and water.

Acrylic paint is a popular type of paint used by artists, crafters, and DIY enthusiasts due to its versatility, quick drying time, and ease of use. 

acrylic paint

Acrylic paint can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including:

Acrylic Paint Alternatives for Wood

Oil Paint

Oil paint, similar to wood stain, is comprised of oil and has a dense consistency that necessitates a prolonged drying period. It’s impervious to water, and it is the most challenging to eliminate.

oil-based paint

Water-Based Paint

This substance is usually more fluid and requires multiple coats to achieve a vivid color.

Latex Paint

Latex paint adheres well to surfaces with minimal or no priming and is simple to remove from fabrics and brushes.

Chalk Paint

This paint yields a matte appearance as opposed to a usual shiny finish when applied to wood.

Important Things to Consider Before the Acrylic Removal Task

To ensure your well-being and to prevent additional harm, we strongly recommend that you review our safety guidelines prior to starting the cleaning process.

dresser painted with acrylic paint

Removing Acrylic Paints and Stains from Wood: 12 Tried and Tested Methods

Method #1: Soap and Water

  1. Moisten the rag and use it to remove the paint, applying pressure as needed.
  2. Re-wet the rag with warm water or use a new one to prevent the paint from spreading.
  3. Apply liquid or bar soap to the affected area and gently work it into the surface.
  4. Continue wiping with the rag until the paint is removed.
  5. Repeat the process as many times as needed to remove the paint completely.
water and soap solution

Be careful when handling the wood to prevent any harm to the surface. Allow the wood to dry fully, which may take up to two days, before making any further changes to the cleaned surface.

Method #2: Rubbing Alcohol

  1. Use a putty knife to gently remove as much paint as possible from the affected area.
  2. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cloth to moisten it.
  3. Use the damp cloth to scrub off any remaining paint.
  4. Wet a clean cloth with water and use it to wipe away any excess rubbing alcohol from the surface.

When using basic rubbing alcohol to remove paint, we advise using the rubbing alcohol to only on the painted areas. It should not be applied to any exposed wooden furniture surfaces as it may cause an adverse reaction.

Method #3: Vegetable Oil

  1. Begin by applying drops of vegetable oil directly onto the acrylic paint.
  2. Use a paper towel to rub the vegetable oil into the acrylic paint.
  3. Allow the vegetable oil to sit for a minimum of 15 minutes to soften the acrylic paint.
  4. Next, use a putty knife to wipe off the softened paint gently.
  5. Use a damp rag to remove any remaining residue, and repeat the process if necessary.
vegetable oil

The use of the vegetable oil method is convenient because it is not labor-intensive, and the paint can be removed easily once the oil has soaked in. Our paint experts suggest repeating the process to remove any leftover paint missed during the initial attempt. 

Method #4: Olive Oil

  1. Begin by using a few drops of olive oil to soften the acrylic paint.
  2. Cover the acrylic paint stain with a cloth.
  3. Allow the cloth to sit undisturbed for at least an hour.
  4. Use a scraping tool to attempt to remove the acrylic paint.
  5. Repeat the first three steps if the acrylic paint is still hard. 

Method #5: Heat Gun

  1. First, wear protective gear like a mask, gloves, and goggles to ensure safety.
  2. Plug in the heat gun and turn it on to the highest temperature setting.
  3. Position the heat gun about four inches away from the painted surface.
  4. Move the heat gun in circular motions to evenly heat the paint.
  5. Wait for bubbles to form on the surface of the paint.
  6. Using a putty knife, gently scrape off the heated paint.
  7. Allow the wood to cool down before proceeding to the next step.
  8. Use a wet cloth to wipe away any remaining paint residue from the surface of the wood.
stripping paint with heat gun

When operating a heat gun, it is essential to prioritize safety measures. Inhaling harmful fumes and accidental burns are potential hazards to avoid. If you are not confident in your ability to handle the tool, it is advisable to opt for a different approach.

Method #6: Lacquer Thinner

  1. Wear any necessary protective gear.
  2. Pour the paint thinner just a small amount onto a dry cloth.
  3. Gently rub the cloth onto the painted area to remove the paint.
  4. Take a wet cloth to remove any residue from the surface.

Method #7: Sandpaper

  1. Start by putting on protective or safety gear.
  2. Rub the surface evenly with sandpaper, applying consistent pressure.
  3. If there is any accumulated dust or debris, brush them off away.
  4. Use a clean damp cloth to remove any resulting residue.
various types of sandpaper

Method #8: Acetone

  1. Begin by wearing your safety gear.
  2. Clean any surface residue before beginning the paint removal process.
  3. Put a small amount of acetone on a clean rag.
  4. Use firm pressure to scrub and remove the paint from the surface.
  5. Wipe away any excess acetone with a clean, damp rag.

Our skilled paint experts highly advise removing any excess acetone at the end of the process to reduce the risk of a fire hazard because acetone is a highly flammable substance. 

Be cautious when working with it, and avoid any areas with an open flame or heat source to prevent damage to the wooden surface.

See Also: Is Paint Flammable

Method #9: Denatured Alcohol

  1. Before beginning, wear all the necessary safety gear.
  2. Pour a small amount of alcohol onto a rag.
  3. Use the rag to scrub the acrylic paint on the surface gently.
  4. Wash the remaining acrylic paint off using a clean, damp rag.
  5. Allow the wood to dry completely.
denatured alcohol

It is important to keep in mind that denatured alcohol contains methanol [1], which is a poisonous substance and can pose a threat if ingested. 

If you have pets or children in your household, we suggest considering an alternative method to remove acrylic paint from wood, as they may be at risk of serious harm if they come into contact with the liquid.

Method #10: Ammonia Solution

  1. Before beginning, ensure you have to wear all the necessary safety equipment. 
  2. Next, put a small amount of the ammonia solution onto a rag and use it to scrub the old acrylic paint gently. 
  3. Lastly, wipe away any remaining excess using a damp rag.
absorbent cloth for cleaning

We suggest having fire-fighting equipment available in case of any potential fires that may occur because ammonia can be flammable.

Method #11: Solvent (Methylene Chloride)

  1. To begin this method, it is important to use protective equipment. 
  2. Then, pour the solvent into a painter’s tray. Soak your paint roller or brush in the solvent for about 5 minutes. 
  3. After removing the brush/roller, allow the solvent to soak into the paint for around 30 minutes. You should see the paint start to bubble.
  4. Remove the bulk of the paint, following the direction of the wood grain to avoid surface damage.
  5. Next, take a clean cloth and add mineral spirits to it, and use it to rub the surface where the paint was scraped off. This neutralizes the solvent and removes residual paint from the workpiece.
citrus based solvent

6. Use a damp cloth without soap to wipe off any paint that may have been smeared on the surface, and allow the workpiece to dry completely before resurfacing the new paint. 

Method #12: Paint Stripper

  1. To start, clean the area with a cloth to remove dirt or debris. 
  2. Next, gently scrape off the acrylic paint using a putty knife, and be careful not to damage the surface underneath. 
  3. Apply the paint strippers to the affected area using the putty knife, and wait for the recommended time according to the product instructions for it to work. For the best options, check out our review of the top-rated paint strippers here!
  4. After the recommended time, use a clean towel and a bowl of water with a block of small dish soap to wipe the area and remove any leftover paint remover and discoloration.

How to Remove Dried Acrylic Paints Off the Wood

Step #1: Prepare Your Work Area

To begin, use a new cloth to wipe down the wooden surface. If you come across small areas where acrylic paint has dried, it is recommended to utilize a fine-grit sandpaper, such as 80 fine grit, since these spots will stand out more prominently.

Step #2: Start Sanding the Surface

After wiping the surface with a clean cloth, make circular motions with fine-grit sandpaper, such as 80 fine-grit paper, to remove dried acrylic paint. It’s important to use fine-grit sandpaper instead of coarse-grit sandpaper, as coarse grit can damage the finished wood.

sanding block

Step #3: Clean and Coat the Wood with Sealant

When you see that the surface is no longer stained with dried acrylic paint, stop sanding. Then, make sure to clean up the area around the surface. Depending on the condition of the hardwood surface, you may apply a new coat of varnish after sanding.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Off Hardwood Floors

Necessary Materials

Step #1: Prepare Your Hardwood Floor

To start any maintenance work on your hardwood floor, you need to get the surface ready. Cleaning the surface to remove any dirt, dust, or grit that could make the acrylic paint more visible. 

vacuuming sanded floor

Step #2: Scrape the Paint Off

This method is highly effective for eliminating water-based acrylic paint from surfaces. A plastic putty knife or plastic paint scraper can be utilized to remove the dry acrylic paint from the surface without damaging the hardwood floor. 

Our paint experts suggest avoiding a metal scraper, but a pull paint scraper may be employed to reach tight areas as long as it is used gently.

Chemicals for Effective Removal of Acrylic Paint from Hardwood Floors

Mild Cleaning Detergent

To remove acrylic paint from hardwood, use a wet paper towel with a drop of detergent and gently apply it to the affected area until the paint is fully soaked. 

Then, use a scrub brush to scrub the area back and forth and wipe away any residual paint that may have gathered on the wood floor. 

Commercial Paint Stripper/Removers

To use this method,  use a cotton swab to apply the paint remover to remove dried acrylic paint and allow it to sit for approximately 15 minutes before removing it.

Citristrip Stripping Gel on wooden table

Alcohol-Based Cleansing Pad

Use a cleaning pad to scrub the affected area. Keep replacing the cleaning pad with a fresh one when it becomes dry until all the paint has been successfully eliminated from the floor.

What’s the Best Way to Strip Off Acrylic Paint?

The best way to remove acrylic paint stains is with soap and water. If you look carefully, you can find a soap that contains no harmful chemicals. You will only need soap, water, rags, and, if necessary, safety gear. 

Although solvents are stronger, using only soap and water is safer. Also, it will last a long time, and you can do it as often as needed.

Another best option is using vegetable oil. Although it requires more materials to complete the process, it is safe for the lungs and skin and for your pets or kids who are still young.

What if It’s Wet? How You Can Remove Wet Acrylic Paint from Wood?

You may be unsure if the other techniques still work if the paint on the wood is wet. To find out, follow these steps:

preparing acrylic paint
  1. Check if the paint is wet.
  2. If the paint is wet, use dish soap and a damp rag to wash it off the surface of the wood.
  3. Apply soap to the damp cloth and gently wipe the painted area to remove the paint before it dries.
  4. If the stain remains, repeat the wiping process.
  5. If the stain still persists, wait for it to harden before trying other techniques.

Is It Hard to Get Rid of Acrylic Paint From Wooden Surfaces?

It can be challenging to get rid of acrylic paint from wood surfaces, especially if the paint has dried and cured. However, with the right tools and techniques, it is possible to remove acrylic paint from surfaces of wood.

painting furniture

Is it Advisable to Use Cleaning Solutions Only on Wooden Surfaces with Acrylic Paint?

It is generally not advisable to use cleaning solutions on a wooden surface with acrylic paint, as some cleaning solutions can damage or discolor the paint.

Using harsh chemicals or cleaning solutions can cause the paint to peel, crack, or fade and damage the wood underneath.

But you can try using a specialized cleaner that is safe for use on acrylic paint. Look for cleaners specifically designed for use on a painted wood surface, and be sure to test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it doesn’t damage the paint.

Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off With Water?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint, which means that it can be easily washed off with water while it is still wet paint or damp. Once the acrylic paint dries, however, it becomes water-resistant and will not wash off with water alone.

Tips & Tricks for Your Acrylic Paint Removal Task

Now that you know how to remove acrylic paint from wood safely and properly, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

acrylic spray cans

Always Follow the Instructions

We highly suggest familiarizing yourself with the instructions of the method you plan to use when removing acrylic paint from wood. These instructions can typically be found on the label of the product’s container and provide essential guidance on using the product effectively.

Work in a Well-Ventilated Space

One important tip from our paint expert is to work in a well-ventilated area when removing acrylic paint and to leave doors and windows open to allow natural airflow can help. 

Avoid Mixing Cleaning Solutions

The last crucial tip is not to mix cleaning solutions when removing acrylic paint from wood, as doing so can trigger chemical reactions that may damage the surface of the wood.

More removal tips for you here


Will acrylic paint come off wood?

Acrylic paint can come off of wood if it is not properly adhered to the surface or if it is subjected to conditions that cause it to deteriorate, such as exposure to moisture or heavy wear and tear. However, under normal conditions, the paint can adhere well to wooden surfaces.

How do you remove acrylic paint without damaging wood?

Removing acrylic paint without damaging the wood requires using gentle and safe methods that will not scratch, etch, or stain the surface. The use of warm, soapy water is the safest method to use.

Can you apply paint over acrylics?

Yes, you can apply paint over acrylics. Acrylic paint is versatile that can also be used as a base layer for other types of paint.

If you want to paint over a layer of acrylics, it’s important to make sure that the acrylic paint is completely dry before you begin.

Will rain wash off acrylic paint from wood?

Acrylic paint is water-resistant once it dries, but it is not completely waterproof. If it is fresh acrylic paint, heavy rain can cause the paint to wash off the wood. However, if dried paint, it will be more resistant to rain and other water exposure.

Is it advisable to use acrylic paints on wood?

Yes, it is generally advisable to use acrylic paints on wood. Acrylic paints are versatile and durable types of paint that can be used on various surfaces, including wood. When using acrylic paints on wood, it is important to prepare the surface before painting properly.


Now that you know how to remove acrylic paint from wood, it is essential to be gentle and avoid scratching or damaging the surface.

By following the appropriate steps and using the right tools and techniques, you can successfully clean acrylic paint without causing any damage or harm to the surface.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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