Removing Wood Stains from Concrete: Tips, Tricks, and Products to Get the Job Done Right

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Matt Stone

Wood staining is a popular way to enhance the look of fences or deck surfaces, but what if it inadvertently gets on your concrete? If you have wood stain on your concrete patio or driveway, you may wonder how to clean it up. Luckily, with the right techniques and tools, it is possible to remove wood stain from concrete.

In this article, we will discuss the best methods for removing wood stain from concrete. We will talk about different kinds of wood stains and how they interact with concrete. We’ll cover various chemicals and methods, and explain the benefits and drawbacks of each method.

With this information, you will be able to effectively remove wood stain from your concrete surfaces and keep them looking their best.

Clean up Stains as Soon as Possible

Cleaning wood stain off of concrete as soon as possible is crucial. The longer you wait, the more difficult the stain will be to remove. This is especially true for oil-based stains, which can penetrate deeper into the porous concrete surface, making them harder to remove.

We recommend always having the appropriate solvent on hand for your stain. This means mineral spirits for oil based stains and soapy water for water based ones. If the stain is still wet you should flood the are with the solvent to dissolve the stain. After 10 minutes you should be able to wipe up the excess solvent.

an oil based stain that has been spilled on concrete.
This is a fresh oil-based stain spill on concrete. Acting fast will help me clean it up.

If the stain is still visible you can apply additional solvent and use an absorbent material to try to draw the stain out of the concrete. After the solvent has had a few minutes to soak in generously spread the absorbent material on top of the area. It will pull the solvent out of the concrete and much of the stain with it. Some examples of absorbent material include:

1.      Kitty Litter

2.      Sawdust

3.      Baking Soda

4.      Fine Salt

The longer you wait, the more the stain will bond with the concrete surface, making removing it almost much more difficult. So, if you notice a stain on your concrete surface, it’s best to act quickly to remove it before it sets in.

a hand is using a clean rag to wipe up the extra stain.
I start by removing the excess stain with a clean rag.

The Difference between Oil-Based and Water-Based Stains

Wood stains come in two main types: oil-based and water-based. This refers to the main liquid that the stain’s pigments and other additives are dissolved in.

It is important to note that concrete is porous and will absorb oil-based stains even more than water-based ones. This means that oil-based stains will penetrate deeper into the concrete, making them more difficult to remove. On the other hand, water-based stains will remain on the surface and are generally easier to clean.

You can often tell the difference between the two based on how much of the stain appears to have soaked into the concrete. If the stain appears to make drops on the surface like paint it is most likely to be water based. If on the other hand it looks like it has completely soaked into the concrete you most likely have an oil based stain. Use the guide below to select a method that has the best chance to work with your stain.

Chemicals that Remove Wood Stain

a can of paint thinner next to a spill of oil-based stain.
I used paint thinner to clean up this oil-based stain.

If the stain has dried there are various chemicals that you can use to try to remove the stain. The most appropriate chemical to use depends on the type of stain, how old it is and how difficult it is to remove.

1.      Paint stripper is a popular choice for removing dried wood stain from concrete. This option tends to work better with water based stains. It works by dissolving the stain so it can be wiped away. However, paint strippers can be harsh and should be used with caution. You should always wear protective gear when using it.

2.      Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a powerful cleaning agent that can be very effective at removing wood stains from concrete. To use TSP, begin by mixing it with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you will need to mix about 1 cup of TSP with 1 gallon of warm water.

Once you have mixed the TSP solution, apply it to the wood stain on the concrete using a stiff-bristled brush. Scrub the stain vigorously to help loosen the wood stain from the surface of the concrete. After scrubbing, rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual TSP and wood stain.

It is important to note that TSP can be a very caustic chemical and can potentially cause skin and eye irritation if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when handling TSP, and avoid inhaling the fumes that are emitted by the chemical. Additionally, be sure to dispose of any leftover TSP solution and rinse your brushes and tools thoroughly with water after using them to apply the TSP solution.

3.      Muriatic acid is another option for removing wood stain from concrete, especially for stubborn stains. However, it is a strong acid and should be used with caution. You should wear protective gear and follow the instructions carefully.

This can be a very caustic chemical so it is important to research how to safely use muriatic acid. It should be viewed as a last resort for stubborn stains.

The stained area has been flooded with paint thinner to dilute the stain on the concrete.
It is best to flood the area with a generous amount of solvent.

How to Power Wash Wood Stain off Concrete

Another effective method for removing wood stain from concrete is to use a pressure washer. Pressure washing can quickly and effectively remove the stain without the need for harsh chemicals. However, it’s important to use the pressure washer correctly to avoid damaging the concrete.

Before you begin, make sure to test a small area to ensure that the pressure washer is not too powerful for your concrete. I recommend using the 15-degree tip because this will allow you to focus the spray on a small area with the stain. Use a low-pressure setting to start and gradually increase the pressure as needed. Be sure to keep the nozzle moving to avoid leaving any marks on the concrete surface.

If the stain is very stubborn you can use the power washer combined with one of the chemials above to help remove the stain.

Conclusion

Fresh looking concrete with no visible stains left over.
You would never know there was a stain on this concrete.

Cleaning wood stain off of concrete can be a daunting task, but with the right methods and tools, it can be done effectively and efficiently. By cleaning the stain as soon as possible and using the appropriate chemicals and equipment, you can restore the appearance of your concrete surface and prevent any lasting damage. Remember to always prioritize safety and follow instructions carefully to avoid any accidents or injuries.

There are some tips for properly masking to keep stain off your concrete in our guide on how to stain a fence.

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Author: Matt Stone
Matt has worked as a professional painter for over 10 years. This includes much experience with all types of wood stains. He loves to write about wood stains to help others make good choices to protect their homes and make them beautiful.

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