Cleaning those spray paint marks off of your driveway restores the surface to a clean appearance so it blends with a well-manicured lawn and landscape. Placing a canvas or plastic drop cloth on the driveway while spray painting prevents these stains, but there are easy ways to clean spray paint off all driveway surfaces.
Water blasting is perhaps the most environmentally friendly option for spray paint removal and is unlikely to mar the surface of the driveway. You can purchase your own pressure washer at most home improvement stores or rent a machine from an equipment rental business. Low pressure systems blast water with up to 10,000 psi, while ultra-high pressure machines range between 25,000 and 40,000 psi. Higher pressure machines are capable of removing spray paint from concrete and asphalt driveways, but low pressure machines may remove small amounts of paint on new surfaces. Ultra-high pressure washers are most effective because they remove paint from new and old surfaces without causing further damage to older, cracked surfaces.
Shot blasting is a spray paint removal method in which tiny steel pellets are shot at the driveway surface. This works best for concrete driveways because asphalt pavement is softer and the tiny metal particles could damage the surface. The machines are usually equipped with a built-in vacuum to suck up the pellets as well as any material removed from the driveway surface, but you can use a bar magnet to pick up any additional metal debris. Although this method is easy and highly effective, it may not be the best solution for small amounts of spray paint because the machines are rather large, capable of removing up to 2,000 square feet of paint in a single hour.
Chemical strippers may be the preferred spray paint removal method because the chemicals do most of the removal work for you, softening the paint so you can remove it with low pressure blasting or a simple scrub brush. This is especially helpful when the driveway is old, cracked or otherwise in poor condition because it reduces the need to use high-pressure water systems, which may further damage distressed driveway surfaces. It's important to choose the correct product for your driveway because there are separate strippers for concrete and asphalt surfaces. Environmentally-friendly options are available, but harmful chemicals should be contained so they don't leach into the ground, potentially contaminating the groundwater and killing plants in the landscape. Available options include mineral spirits, turpentine, naptha, isopropyl alcohol, acetone and methylene chloride.
Grinding machines are commonly used for asphalt surfaces and remove spray paint through scarification, in which the surface is scratched to remove the paint. The surface is etched after removing the paint, but the score marks generally fade after a short time. Grinding is especially effective on old asphalt with surface cracking because it only scratches the surface and does not cause further damage to the cracks. This also means that spray paint within the surface cracks is not removed with this process. Choose from a drum grinder, which scores the driveway vertically, or a grinding head, which rotates to scar the surface vertically and horizontally. Milling machines work well for removing large amounts of paint, but also remove 1/4 inch or more of the driveway surface.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.