How to Remove Epoxy Paint from Concrete

Epoxy paint is tough, bonds aggressively and is meant to be permanent; this makes it difficult to remove from a porous surface like concrete. However several good methods exist to get this very tough paint off of concrete surfaces.


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    There are two basic methods available: mechanical removal (which consists of sandblasting or floor disk sanding), and chemical peels. The various types of equipment required for mechanical removal is usually quicker, more expensive, messier and more dangerous - closer to an industrial process and usually beyond the means of most readers. For the rest of us, chemical peels are the method of choice.
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    Your choice of stripper can vary a lot depending on where you live. Most places will carry MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) strippers and these will work well on epoxy, but they have serious issues. They have heavy fumes, they are toxic and they are very flammable. MEK is the old standard and you may not have another choice in strippers. Nevertheless, there are eco-friendly alternatives that are both low in odor and toxicity out there. A few of them include Gp 2000 Coatings Remover, DoradoStrip, and Soy-Gel Paint and Urethane Remover. These are still aggressive strippers, so follow all directions on the can and use due care. Most of these are flammable or can do serious eye damage in seconds. Wear your safety glasses!
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    Clear the surface off and wash it. Open windows or doors, because most strippers generate strong or flammable vapors and once you start getting goop on your hands you won't want to touch a door to get in or out of the area. A fan may be very helpful but keep it well away from the work area and be sure you have blocked access to the area you are working on.
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    Most strippers have coverage rules and significant soak times that are required to cut through the paint bond. Read the label and follow it. Don't be stingy or rush this time. You will just add hours to your work time as you scrape harder and far more than you should at the stubborn paint. Use a push broom if you need to spread the stripper by hand on the surface. If it needs to be sprayed on the surface a hand-pumped sprayer is usually a good choice, but consider the sprayer disposable. Strippers are chemically aggressive by design and so are hard on equipment.
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    Work in small areas and work towards one side of the surface. You want to generate the cleanest possible surface as you go and drive your (very sticky and saturated) scrapings to one area to control the mess. Don't be stingy with your stripper or once again, you will find yourself working a lot harder. Remember to clean off the stripper in your finished areas as you go and anytime you plan to take a break. If you don't rinse the stripper off the floor thoroughly, it may interact with glue you later use for tile or carpet backing.
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    Give the stripped area plenty of ventilation for several days. Concrete is very porous and will likely release vapors from the stripper that it absorbed while you were working. Congratulations!


  • Concrete will generate sparks on steel tools, so read the label. If the product or its vapors are flammable you will need to purchase non-sparking scrapers.
  • Treat your clothes and tools as potentially disposable. Most strippers are very hard on anything you get them on.
  • Follow the label directions and be prepared to wait hours or even most of a day for the stripper to work. Epoxy paint is tough. You won't gain anything rushing this process.


  • Wear your protective gear. Be conscious of your hands - strippers will do a number on most surfaces you touch.
  • Give careful thought to children and pets when stripping any paint. Most strippers are chemically aggressive, are flammable and relatively toxic. Most of them can do irrevocable and life-altering damage in seconds. Keep kids out of the area!
  • Ventilation is your friend.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric fans and open windows to help keep fumes down
  • Clothes you won't mind throwing away
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Knee pads
  • Stout but disposable push broom
  • Dustpan or shovel
  • Bucket
  • Solvent-resistant/non-sparking hand scrapers
  • Long-handled scraping tools may be useful

Article Info

Categories: Concrete | Tradesman Occupations