Tips to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood

How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Wood (10 EASY Ways in 2024)

Imagine this. You’re finishing up your latest wooden piece only to realize that there’s a splatter of acrylic paint on your wood.

Sounds frustrating! But don’t give up hope.

In this post, I’ll explore how to remove acrylic paint from wood, some tips to help you remove dry paint from wood, and much more. Let’s get started!

The best way to remove dried acrylic paint from wood is by using warm soap and water. By using a damp rag with soap you can lather it into the area until the paint is removed. If this isn’t working you can use other methods like rubbing alcohol, sandpaper, and even vegetable oil to remove the old paint.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is one of the staples when it comes to painting materials. It’s made out of three ingredients – water, acrylic resin, and pigment.

It has the quality of watercolor and oil paints while remaining in a form that dries fast.

When acrylic paint goes on wood, all three ingredients sit on top of the material. Eventually, the water in fresh acrylic paint will dissolve. When this happens, an acrylic stain is left behind from the pigment. These then fuse to the surface due to a chemical reaction with the air.

Acrylic paint is one of the simplest materials to work with as an artist. Dry acrylic paint happens much faster than oil, and it’s thicker than watercolor. Still, removing acrylic paint from wood can be a paint to handle.

Acrylic Paint

Why Are Acrylics Popular?

Many artists utilize acrylic paint as their medium, whether for a painting or something more abstract. What about acrylic paints that make them so popular in the art world? After all, there are plenty of paint options on the market.

Acrylic paint is a popular choice because it:

  • Dries fast: Acrylic paint dries much faster than other materials on the market.
  • Comes in simple colors: You’ll find many colors in acrylic paint, and it’s simple to paint with on any material.
  • It’s flexible: Acrylic paint is less likely to dry and crack as temperatures change around it.
  • They work on any surface: As long as there is no oil or wax acrylic will stick.
  • They’re generally non-toxic: Most acrylics don’t have dangerous fumes inside them that others paints do.

People love the ease that comes with acrylic paint.

It’s also much easier to store this paint. Oils and watercolors tend to be a little trickier to handle.

Out of all the paint that could make its way on a wooden surface, acrylic is one with many methods available to remove dry paint. Let’s talk about removing dried acrylic paint next to provide a clean slate with any wooden surface you want.

Dealing with spray paint? Here’s how to get spray paint off wood!

Are There Alternatives for Acrylic Paint on Wood?

There are several types of paint on the market. Acrylic paint is the most common, and it washes off with the techniques we’ll discuss below. However, you might run into another type of paint stain on a wood surface. What are the other types of paint used for coloring wood?

For this material, people use these paints in place of acrylic:

  • Oil paint: Oil paint (like wood stain) is oil-based, thick, and takes a long time to dry. It doesn’t react to water, and it’s the most difficult to remove.
  • Latex paint: Latex paint stick to surfaces with little to no priming and is easy to clean off brushes and cloths.
  • Water-based paint: This liquid is typically thinner and takes a couple of layers to get a bright hue.
  • Chalk paint: This paint provides a matte finish versus a glossy one on wood.

Although chalk and water-based paint are pretty easy to work with, you will have a trickier time getting oil and latex paint off your wooden surface.

The techniques below apply to acrylic. If you have something different, don’t try these on the stain. Other methods will work to solve your problem.

Related Reading: How to Remove Heat Stains from Wood

Painting Wood

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood

There are several techniques if you need to remove acrylic paint from wood.

Some of the following products can be used to remove acrylic paint from wood:

  • Soap and water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Vegetable oil
  • A heat gun
  • Solvent
  • Sandpaper
  • Acetone
  • Paint stripper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Ammonia solution

One of these should prove effective, and all are easy to get your hands on no matter where you are.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with Soap and Water

Soap and water is a classic combination that seems to clean up everything – including removing acrylic paint from wood.

All you will need are gloves, soap, water, and a dishcloth to rub. It’s also one of the least poisonous choices if you choose a soap with minimal chemicals. You can even use bar soap if you have it on hand. A washcloth is not necessary with a bar.

Once you have these, you should:

  • Dampen the rag and rub off as much paint as possible
  • Re-dampen the rag with warm water (you can also use a fresh cloth to avoid spreading the paint around)
  • Gently lather the area with soap
  • Wipe until the pigment comes off
  • Repeat as many times as necessary

Then, let the wood dry.

It’s critical to be gentle as you work with the wood to avoid damaging the surface. It might take 1-2 days for the wood to dry completely, so be ready to give it some time before making new additions to the clean surface.

Check out the video below to learn how to strip furniture of paint!

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another effective product almost everyone has on hand or can easily access at a local store.

You’ll need four tools – rubbing alcohol, a putty knife, an old rag, and a new rag. Lay these out so you can easily access them during the removal process.

Once you have your items, you will need to:

  • Take the putty knife and gently scrape off as much paint as possible
  • Add alcohol to the cloth
  • Scrub the remaining color off with the damp cloth
  • Wet the clean cloth with water and use it to wipe away excess alcohol

Now, all you need to do is let the surface dry before adding anything to it.

When trying the rubbing alcohol method, it’s critical to remember that the alcohol should only touch areas with paint. It will not react well when placed on top of exposed wooden surfaces.

Working with chalk paint? Check out these ways to remove chalk paint from wood!

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with Vegetable Oil

If you have a kitchen, you probably have vegetable oil hidden in one of your cupboards.

This thick liquid serves as an excellent way to get acrylic paint off wood. Olive oil works best, though standard vegetable oil will do. You will need a paper towel, oil, a clean rag, and a putty knife for this method.

Once you have your materials lined up, you need to:

  • Put drops of oil right onto the acrylic paint
  • Rub the oil in with a paper towel
  • Let the oil sit for at least fifteen minutes to soften the paint
  • Gently wipe off the color with the putty knife
  • Use the damp cloth to get excess, and repeat all steps if necessary

The vegetable oil method is ideal because it doesn’t require too much effort, and it’s easy to get the paint off once the oil soaks in. Ensure you repeat the process to get off any pain you didn’t hit the first time around. Then, let the wood dry.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with a Heat Gun

Use a Heat Gun to Remove Paint from Wood

A heat gun is a unique tool you can find at nearby hardware stores or hobby shops. It shouldn’t cost too much to purchase one, and there are used versions you can invest in for the job. Ensure you read all the instructions with the tool before taking any further action. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

You will need a heat gun, goggles, heatproof gloves, a mask, a putty knife, and a clean rag. Once you have these materials, you should:

  • Put on the mask, gloves, and goggles for safety
  • Plug in the heat gun and put it on the maximum heat setting
  • Hold the gun about four inches from the paint
  • Move the gun in circular motions
  • Wait for bubbles, then gently scrape the color with the putty knife
  • Let the wood cool, then use a wet cloth to wipe away any excess

After these steps, let the wood dry before proceeding further.

It’s critical to take safety precautions when using a heat gun. You don’t want to breathe in toxic fumes, and you don’t want to burn yourself. If you’re not comfortable handling the tool, try a different method.

Check out this simple step by step guide to cleaning acrylic paint brushes!

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is the next liquid on our list. This solvent is similar to acetone and rubbing alcohol in its makeup, and it’s just as effective at removing acrylic paint from wood.

It’s one of the strongest, so you don’t need too much to work with on the surface. Ensure you have lacquer thinner, an old rag, and a wet rag. Move the wood outside and wear a mask to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.

Once you have your materials outside, you should:

  • Put on any protective gear you need
  • Pour a small amount of thinner on a dry cloth
  • Gently rub the paint off the wood
  • Take a clean wet rag and wipe away any remaining residue

After these, let the wood dry before you do anything else to it.

Although most forms of lacquer thinner are toxic, they sell greener versions nowadays that carry fewer harmful chemicals inside. These are the best option if you want to avoid fume inhalation as much as possible.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood with Sandpaper

Removing Paint with Sandpaper

If you don’t mind roughing up the wood a little, sandpaper is an excellent way to get paint off a wooden surface.

The rough edges are perfect for painting and smoothing the surface. This technique is ideal for adding a new layer of paint on the old one.

To sand, you will need either sandpaper or an orbital sander. You will also need a sanding block, a wet rag, and water. Bring these to an outdoor area where the sanded wood can fly around without trouble.

Once you have your tools and location, you should:

  • Put on protective gear
  • Rub the sandpaper across the surface with even pressure
  • Brush off any accumulation
  • Wipe off the resulting residue with a wet clean cloth

Once everything is clean, you can let the wood dry.

After it’s dry, you can do anything with the wood. Add a finish on top or repaint the wood with a new layer of acrylic paint. Sandpaper is a little labor-intensive, but it’s effective and a great way to remove dried acrylic paint.

Related: How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Dry?

Remove Acrylic Paint Stains with Acetone

Acetone is another liquid that will work well to remove acrylic paint from wood.

It’s very similar to hairspray in consistency, and you work with it just as you would another solvent. It’s one of the more powerful choices, so keep this in mind if you want to be cautious around fumes. It’s best on firmer wooden surfaces.

You will need acetone, protective equipment, and two clean rags. Gather these materials and move to a well-ventilated area where the fumes can dissipate.

Once you have your tools and your area, you should:

  • Put on protective gear
  • Wipe off any residue on the surface
  • Put a little acetone on a clean cloth
  • Push firmly and scrub the paint off
  • Wipe any excess off with a wet cloth

After this, you can let everything dry.

It’s critical to note that acetone is flammable. Be careful where you work with it, as a location near fire could result in disaster for the wooden surface. Ensure you wipe off all excess at the end to reduce the potential fire hazard.

Remove Dried Acrylic Paint with Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is another type of alcohol that works well to remove paint from wood.

It’s a little bit stronger than rubbing alcohol, so it will work for situations that require more work. There is no water in this solvent. Instead, it’s made from ethyl and methyl.

To remove acrylic paint with denatured alcohol, you will need two rags, denatured alcohol, and protective equipment. Take everything to a place with proper ventilation for the safest removal experience.

Once everything is in place, you will need to:

  • Put on all necessary protective gear
  • Pour a little alcohol on one rag
  • Gently scrub at the paint
  • Wash any excess paint off with a wet rag
  • Let the wood dry

Give the wood at least a day to completely dry out before painting.

It’s critical to note that denatured alcohol includes a substance known as methanol. It’s poisonous and can be dangerous if consumed. Consider another method if you have pets or kids in the house that could experience serious harm from the liquid.

Ammonia Solution

Last is ammonia solution, another solvent. It’s one of the most common when removing paint from objects inside a home. You should be able to find it at any local store and online. One thing to note is that ammonia will not be as effective if you use it on a porous wood.

To use ammonia solution, you will need two rags, the solution, and protective equipment. Find a safe place with plenty of ventilation to start the process.

Once you have everything in order, you should:

  • Put on all necessary protective equipment
  • Apply a small amount of solution to the rag
  • Gently scrub at the paint
  • Wipe away any excess with a wet rag

Then, as usual, let the wood dry before anything else.

Ammonia can be flammable in some cases, and the fumes can be rather intense to the average human nose. Have equipment on hand to put out potential fires. It’s also critical to note that a small percentage of people are allergic to ammonia. Determine your status before using it for the first time.

What is the Best Way to Remove Acrylic Paint?

We’ve talked about many techniques you can use to remove acrylic paint from wood.

Most of them involve tools that can be found at home or inside a local hardware store. Which of these methods comes out on top as the best? Which will allow paint removal in a way that is both successful and non-toxic? There is one technique that stands out above the rest.

If possible, it’s best to take advantage of soap and water to get rid of acrylic paint stains. If you’re smart with the soap, you can find one with no toxins. Most people already have soap inside their homes, and the only other supplies you need are rags and protective equipment if you want to be safe.

Although soap and water aren’t as strong as solvents, it’s safer. It will last a long time and you can repeat the process as many times as is necessary.

A second-place option is vegetable oil. You need a few more materials for this method, but it’s just as safe for the skin and the lungs. It’s also the least dangerous to clean up, which will work well if you have pets or young kids in your home. Keep them, and you, safe.

What if the Paint is Wet?

If the acrylic paint is wet, you might wonder if the process is the same. Can the techniques we mentioned above still work with wet paint, or do you need to try something else?

Wet paint on wood is good news. With a little soap and a rag, you can wash off the acrylic paint in no time at all. All you need to do is dampen the cloth, add a little soap, and wipe gently to get the color off the surface before it dries.

If a stain remains after this simple process, you may need to repeat the wiping process. If all else fails, wait for the remaining stain to harden and try one of the techniques we discussed above. If possible, stick with non-toxic forms for the safety of people in your home.

Will Acrylic Paint Wash Off with Water?

Acrylic paint is a water-based liquid. When it’s dry, however, it is waterproof, which is one of the reasons people love it.

Although this is great for a painting, it’s unfortunate for situations where the acrylic needs removal. Dried paint requires soap at the very least to assist in the removal process and likely cannot be done with water alone.

If the paint is wet, it will easily wash off almost any surface it goes on. The trick is to get a damp rag over the color before the bottom layer can adhere to the surface. Once it does that, it’s too late to remove the stain with just water.

If you’re painting a chair or item that sits outside, it’s critical to remember that any new layer of acrylic won’t be waterproof until it has time to dry. Don’t leave freshly-painted objects outside if you think it will rain.


What removes acrylic paint?

There are several substances you can use to remove acrylic paint. Rubbing alcohol, vegetable oil, lacquer thinner, and acetone are all capable of removing acrylic paint.

Can You Paint Over Acrylic Paint?

You might be tempted to just paint over dried acrylic paint, but will this work?

Because it becomes water resistant when dry, you can paint over acrylic paint. However, there is one thing to consider.

If the paint is uneven, it can leave your surface looking rough – so it’s usually a good idea to sand it down or remove the remaining paint before you repaint the area.

Can You Use Paint Thinner for Removing Acrylic Paint?

We explored using lacquer thinner to remove acrylic paints, but what about other paint thinners or paint stripper?

Because lacquer thinner is much stronger and hotter than normal paint thinner, it is capable or removing acrylic paints. Paint thinner can be much more difficult to remove acrylic paints because it is not as strong.

How Can I Remove Wet Acrylic Paint?

Removing wet acrylic paint is much easier than dry acrylic paint. Because the paint is water-based, it can be removed with a little water and soap.

Can I Use Nail Polish Remover to Remove Acrylic Paint?

Yes, nail polish remover can be used to remove acrylic paint for surfaces.

Related Reading: How to Get Crayon Off Wood

Final Thoughts on How to Get Acrylic Paint Off Wood

Although acrylic paint is one of the most popular paint options, it can be a pain to deal with on a wood surface like wooden furniture, wood floor, and more.

Luckily, there are many ways to get acrylic paint off of wood. You can use soap and water, a solvent, and even olive oil to remove any color from a wooden surface.

There are plenty of ways to clean acrylic paint from a wooden surface, no matter how much is stuck. With a few tools and a well-ventilated environment, you should have no trouble making the wood as good as new.