The rule for cleaning paint off a laminate floor is similar to the 10-second rule kids use to gauge whether food they drop on the floor is still safe to eat. The 10-second rule says that if you manage to retrieve the food within 10 seconds of dropping it, it's OK to eat it. The analogous rule for paint is that if you manage to clean it within 10 seconds (or so) of dropping it, it will all come right off.
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There's no scientific basis for the 10-second rule when it comes to food, but when it comes to cleaning paint, there's a proven advantage to getting to it ASAP. If that isn't possible and the paint dries, the job of removing it is a bit more difficult, but you'll get help from the super-hard laminate finish, which ensures that no paint can seep permanently into the flooring. In most cases the paint is latex, and it's much easier than most people think to remove latex paint from a laminate floor.
Wait for the Paint to Dry Completely and Scrape It
Any paint drip that has even a small edge will come right off the floor as long as you wait for it to harden. The tool you need to remove it is a plastic putty knife or an old credit card because unlike a metal scraper, a plastic one won't scratch the finish. Small spots, such as those left when a roller sprays paint, will come off with just a little effort.
If you can't summon enough strength to remove larger drips, you may need the help of a hammer. Place the edge of the scraper against the drip and tap the other end sharply. Don't worry about damaging the floor because the plastic will bend before it penetrates the finish.
In most cases, the dry paint will chip right off and leave no evidence that it was there, but sometimes you'll have some residue to clean up. There's a good cleaner for that, and you can use the same cleaner to wipe off dried paint that has been ground into the finish and can't be removed by scraping.
A Cleaner to Remove Latex Paint From a Laminate Floor
When dried paint has gotten smooshed into the surface of a laminate floor, you need to rub it out with a cleaning solution. You can use a commercial latex paint remover or you can make an effective cleaner with a few simple household ingredients that include:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Dish soap
Mix the vinegar, alcohol and water in equal proportions, then add enough dish soap to create bubbles when you stir the solution (about a drop or two). Vinegar and alcohol dissolve the paint while the soap emulsifies it and makes it easier to rub off.
Vacuum the area before you start to ensure you won't grind dirt into the finish, then dip a soft cloth into the solution, wring it out well and start rubbing. Keep going until the paint is gone. Don't pour the solution directly on the paint because you don't want any of it seeping through the joints and swelling the floorboards.
Removing Oil-Based Paint From Wood Floors
Most interior spills are latex, but someone may have had an accident with exterior or artists' paint. You usually have to rub these out with turpentine or white spirit, which is another name for paint thinner. It's safe to use turpentine and white spirit on a laminate floor because neither will harm the finish, but they don't always work, especially if the paint has been curing for a long time.
If you need a stronger cleaner, use acetone or nail polish remover, which are basically the same thing. Moisten a cotton swab with the thinner and rub the paint out. This works especially well for lacquer, nail polish (which is a type of lacquer) and oil-based enamel.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.