How to Remove Paint from Stone: Step by Step Guide

If you thought removing paint from wood is hard, then buckle up for stone painting removal. Stripping off paint from stone is very tedious since oil and paint tend to get absorbed into its porous surface. As a result, the paint is trapped inside the cracks and pores, darkening the stone’s surface color.

How to Remove Paint from Stone

You can even remove paint from wood with heat, but not stone. So the question goes, how to remove paint from stone? Is there really any way to clean the stone surface?

Well, although it may seem hard, it is possible. You just need to be extra careful not to damage the stone.

Should We Be Removing Paint from Stone?

That’s an important thing to consider since in the process of removing the paint, you could end up damaging the stone surface a lot. Chemical paint remover has an acidity that can react negatively with the stone tiles and leave etching and discoloration.

However, before going for it, we should consider the pros and cons of removing the paint.


  • Paint tends to stop the stone from breathing causing long-term damage to the stone’s structure. Removing it will let the stone breathe again
  • Stripping paint will bring out the original color of the stone masonry which looks vintage
  • Paint acts as a water barrier and traps moisture into the stone deteriorating the stone from the inside


  • Removing paint always causes damage to the stone
  • Chemical paint remover can cause health risks
  • Lead-based paint is a hazardous waste
  • Paint may stop rain ingress in very porous stone
  • The painting may be there to cover old repairs

Now we know the advantages and disadvantages of paint removal. Although the number of cons seems more, still you might have your own reasons that outweigh them.

Paint Spills on Stone! What Do I Do?

When you are decorating the wall, the paint will spill. You cannot escape it. You should do two things while redoing the wall: contain the spill and remove the residue.

Step 1: Wipe the Spill ASAP

The spills can be either wet or dry. When removing paint spills from stone, time is of the essence. As time passes, stripping paint will become difficult. So always keep towel papers while you work with paint and blot the spill immediately. Don’t wipe the area; it will just spread the spill and make it worse.

Step 2: Wash it

Next, flush the area with plain water. You can also use hot water instead, and there’s no problem with that since stone is essentially heat resistant. Chances are there will be no additional work needed.

However, if the paint residue sticks, make a dilute solution of warm water, borax, and mild detergent. Then scrub the area with a clean sponge.

These two methods should suffice for removing fresh spills and wet paint from the stone surface. But in case there remains some residue, then follow the steps in our next section.

How to Remove Dried Paint From Stone

Dried paint poses a real difficulty while removing. Extra care is needed, especially when it is on natural stone flooring. You need to combine various methods, manual and chemical alike, to safely and completely remove oil or water-based stains and paint off stones.

The job will be a bit messy. So, let’s get ready to make a mess!

Step 1: Do a Patch Testing First

You don’t want to accidentally damage the stone surface, especially if it’s a valuable one. Stripping or peeling hard stuck dried paint may cause damage to the surface.

So, to ensure that your cleaning is not affecting the stone too adversely, try to clean a small portion of the surface first and observe the result. If it works, move on with the rest of the surface. This way, you can avoid damaging the entire surface by doing a testing patch on a small area.

Step 2: Scrub the Paint

Manual paint stripping techniques work best on thick oil paint since the pressure falls on the paint surface more than the stone. You can start this step by using a plastic putty knife to remove the excess oil paint as much as possible.

The best way to use a putty knife is by placing the tool at 45 degrees at the edge of the paint and push forward slightly. Doing this repeatedly on short segments will hopefully remove most of the paint.

This technique helps the paint from spreading to the surrounding areas while cleaning. You can remove the bulk of excess paint through this.

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Step 3: Clean the Area

This is more of a precautionary step than actual cleaning. The stripping of the previous step will cause some dry paint powder to remain on the surface. And since stones have minute cracks and crevices, those paint particles tend to get trapped inside them.

Before cleaning the surface further with techniques that will evidently wet the stone, try to vacuum it. Vacuuming will remove most of those particles hidden in the cracks and crevices, and the mess will be much less further down the steps.

If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, use a paper towel or lint-free textured microfiber cloth instead. Just place the cloth over the stripped area and rub the back of it with a soft-bristled brush.

The bristles will push the cloth strands into the narrow crevices and stick to the paint particles. Remove the cloth and clean. Repeat the process if necessary.

Step 4: Clean with Water Blasting

Using high pressured heated water blasting usually removes almost all dirt and stains. It also works like a charm on stone surfaces as well, but not as much as other smooth surfaces.

This technique works best on water-based paints without corroding the stone. However, if it is oil-based paint, cleaning with this method might not give you the result you want.

Step 5: Using Chemical Removers

The ultimate concern while removing paint from stone surfaces is not to damage the stone. And that’s why the intensity of the techniques is increased gradually only if the previous one doesn’t work.

The same goes while using chemical removers as well. We’ll start with less abrasive removers and then gradually move upwards. As we go, the effectiveness of the technique will increase so will the damage to the stone.

Soy-Based Chemical Remover:

This is a rather new product in the market. Conventional removers contain toxic chemicals that can damage the stone and your skin. Unlike others, stone has an irregular surface. So to remove the paint, you have to scrub it. Scrubbing stone with chemical remover will burn your skin and damage your eyes too.

However, the soy-based chemical remover is made of soybeans with a low evaporation rate. You can scrub the stone surface with it without worrying about it getting vaporized too fast or damaging your skin. It is also great for removing lead-based paint.

Use Rubbing Alcohol:

Chemical removers work by breaking the paint molecules and pigments. Paint or stain made of oil substance is always difficult to remove, but not impossible. One trick is to apply a cleaning method that you’d apply on the individual substances.

For example, alcohol is the best substance to break down oil molecules. So applying rubbing alcohol to the paint can help break it down and dissolve the oil pigments. Once it is done, rinse away the solvent with water and blot with a textured fiber cloth.

Use Non-Caustic Chemical Remover:

Solvent-based paint strippers or non-caustic chemical remover work by breaking the bond between the surface and the paint. The ingredient of solvent-based stripper works by swelling the paint and weakening adhesion to the surface.

Water is the main solvent in this product containing a small number of other chemicals. Non-caustic removers don’t have much toxic residue. So it will strip the paint gently without causing much damage to it.

Caustic Chemical Remover:

Alkaline-based removers are known as caustic strippers since they cause damage to the surface. It works slightly differently than a non-caustic stripper, as its ingredients like to break down the chemicals of the paint rather than merely breaking the adhesive bond.

These removers have a high pH level and active ingredients, which can also be hazardous for human health. Besides, its damaging effect can also continue long after you’re done working with it.

That’s why you must thoroughly wash the stone surface after using chemical removers on them to avoid any residue chemicals.

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Cleaning Up

It might take more than one application of these methods to completely remove the paint from the stone surface. Towards the end, you might find some milky residue remaining, which should be washed with water.

You can also use vinegar for this cleaning to be perfect. White vinegar contains acetic acid that can remove the milky residue and brighten up the stone.

Final Words

Although the works seem straightforward at first, the hazardous paint waste and toxic chemical remover can cause severe harm to your skin, eyes, or even lungs if you’re not careful enough. Remember to work slowly and carefully to avoid risking any type of accidental damage to the stone surface.

However, it is advisable to contact a professional to do this job instead of learning the how to remove paint from stone and doing it yourself. Any damage done with your novice hands could lead to more expensive repairs, which obviously you don’t want.

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