Safety Tips for How to Remove Epoxy from Concrete
Before starting the epoxy removal process, you should learn how to go about it safely.
You don’t want to get any dust or particles in your eyes as you work, so always wear well-fitting safety goggles. Long pants, long-sleeve shirts and face shields can provide protection, too. You should also put on gloves, and be sure to wear ear protection while using power tools.
If you’re working with chemicals, ventilation is especially important. Open windows in the work area if possible. Arrange fans around the room so that they blow the fume-filled air out the doors or windows. You should wear a tight-fitting, NIOSH-approved respirator mask as well.
Removing Epoxy from Concrete with Chemicals
Strong chemicals are useful for loosening the bond between the epoxy coating and the surface underneath. If you take appropriate precautions, these solvents can be a big help in the removal process.
Your choices include:
- Acetone — best for small patches
- Caustic strippers — good for removing multiple epoxy layers, but not to be used near wood surfaces
- Methylene chloride — the strongest option but also the most hazardous
For whichever option you choose:
- Put the solution in a large container.
- Use a mop or a paintbrush to spread it over the floor.
- Wait in the other room while the product sits on the floor for the manufacturer’s recommended length of time.
- Use small tools to peel the epoxy from the concrete. Suggestions include putty knives, paint scrapers, chisels, picks and brushes. Hold the tool at an angle to the floor.
- Repeat with multiple applications of the chemicals if needed.
These are general guidelines, so always consult the package directions before beginning.
Removing Epoxy with Tools
Instead of loosening the epoxy with chemicals, you can remove it from the top down using power tools. The options include:
- Sandblaster — good for thin layers of epoxy
- Steel shot blaster — better for thick coats of epoxy
- Floor grinder — should be equipped with a scraper blade
You may be able to rent power tools for epoxy removal from your local hardware store.
Cleaning the Concrete After Epoxy Removal
After doing the hard work of taking up the old epoxy, you’ll still need to clean the concrete. Fortunately, that’s usually an easier job.
First, use a shop vac to sweep up as much of the dust and debris as you can.
The next step is to wash the floor. One option is to mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a mop bucket. Mop this mixture across the concrete to tackle dirt and stains. Afterward, rinse the floor with clear water.
If you have a power sprayer, you could combine equal parts of bleach and water with a squirt of dish soap. Spray it across the floor, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it with clear water.
Finally, one of the best suggestions for removing epoxy from concrete is to call in a pro. A professional may have the expertise and equipment to accomplish this job more quickly and easily than you could on your own. Removing epoxy can be a challenge, so don’t be afraid to hire help if needed.
Learn more: Can you epoxy over tile floors?