You have decided that it is time for that dingy white paint on your home’s stone exterior to go away. But the more you research, the more confused you get. 

There are many methods for paint removal and everyone seems to have a life-changing tip to share making it a tough decision. 

Here at A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration, we don’t believe in complicated. That’s why we have created a guide to removing paint from stone exteriors. We break everything down and give you the knowledge you need to make the decision that is best for you. 

Table of Contents

7 Methods That Can Remove Paint From Stone

Removing exterior paint from stone is sometimes a tough but necessary project. Sometimes painted stone looks great but that might not always be the case. You may find yourself needing to remove paint from stone walls for different reasons, like:

  • The paint has started chipping and doesn’t look good anymore
  • Your home was painted in the 80’s — and you can tell
  • You want to upgrade to a better type of paint or change up your color scheme
  • You  want to go au naturel and bring back the pre-paint stone look
  • The wall had a bad paint job and the uneven lines are showing as it starts to fade; or
  • The stone is damaged and needs a face-lift

Whatever your reasons, there are multiple great methods for removing paint from stone exteriors. But what you may not know is that there is a right way and a wrong way to remove exterior paint and A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration are the experts for the job.

best way to remove paint from stone

#1: Weathering 

The most natural (and easiest) way to remove paint from sandstone walls is to let Mother Nature do the work. Endless cycles of rain, sun, snow, and wind will eventually take care of the paint removal. 

The upside of this method? It’s hands-off and you can simply let nature run its course. 

The downside of this method? You may not like how it looks in the meantime. Even Mother Nature can’t magically make the paint come off perfectly overnight. You will have to live with some peeling, splotchy paint during the process. 

Weathering tends to work best on emulsion, lime-wash, and friable or older paint. 

#2: Steam Stripping 

In the vein of natural and chemical-free, steam stripping is an especially effective method for water-thinned paints like emulsions. Because the heat and moisture from the steam softens the paint, you don’t have to worry about super-fine paint dust. 

The key to using this method is to use low-pressure, superheated steaming and to go slowly. As you steam, remove the loosened paint. 

#3: Water Washing 

Grab your soft-bristle brush and a bucket of water and get ready; it’s time to give your home a sponge bath. Simply use a soft-bristle brush to scrub off the paint. 

Water washing is sometimes used in conjunction with weathering to help the process move along smoothly.

remove paint from sandstone wall

#4: Alkaline (Caustic) Chemical Removers

If you would rather go straight for the tough stuff and use chemical removers, you will likely find that they work well on your water-based paints

Caustic (a fancy word for corrosive, alkaline substance) chemical removers, such as potash or caustic soda, are harsh, abrasive chemicals that work by eating away at the paint. 

Before you grab your keys and head to the store to buy some of this stuff, you need to know that caustic removers should be more of a last resort than an initial attack. 

These chemicals can wreak havoc on your stone and the risk is not always worth the desired result. If you have to use an alkaline chemical remover, you must be sure to wash the stone with water after removing the paint. 

Do not leave the chemicals on the stone any longer than necessary and make sure you are not leaving any residue behind. 

Additionally, these removers can pose a risk to your physical health. Always make sure you are wearing any suggested protective gear so that your skin and lungs do not suffer at the expense of harsh chemicals. 

Dealing with harsh chemicals without the proper equipment, or a working knowledge of the chemical, can lead to severe health issues. Protect yourself and leave the harsh chemicals to the experts. A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration is here to solve your paint removal problems. 

#5: Solvent (Non-Caustic) Chemical Removers 

Slightly (although not much) less scary than caustic chemical removers are solvent, or non-caustic, paint removers. These are water-soluble, and slightly less harsh on your surface. 

If you have oil or latex-based paints to deal with, one of these solutions just might be your golden ticket. 

However, like caustic removers, these guys are not great for your health. 

Toxic chemicals usually rank in the active ingredient list for solvent removers and this can pose a substantial threat to your liver and kidneys. Additionally, most of these chemicals are carcinogens, meaning they pose a risk of cancer if not handled properly. 

Be sure to wear proper, good-quality protective garb and heed any warnings given on product labeling. Be aware that these removers are known to make users dizzy and cause headaches. 

remove paint from stone

#6: Manual Abrasive 

It is time to pull out your wire-bristle brushes, scrapers, sanding tools, and 80’s playlist because this is about to get physical. 

Start scraping, brushing, and sanding but beware that this method can cause a lot of damage to your stonework. You need to work gently to minimize the deterioration. 

#7: Mechanical Abrasive 

Coming in at the most aggressive, abrasive, and damaging of all your options is the mechanical abrasive method. 

This technique employs methods such as: 

You must be incredibly careful not to damage the stone but, with how rough mechanical abrasive paint removal is, there is a strong chance that you will have to deal with damaged or eroded stone regardless. 

Damaged stone often comes with other issues like accelerated weathering and loss of architectural detail. 

Pros and Cons to Consider When Trying to Remove Paint From Stone Yourself

Pros to Removing Paint From Stone Exterior 

There are some great reasons to remove paint from stone DIY style. 

For instance:

  • Paint makes it hard for stone to breathe which leads to long-term structural damage.
  • Removing the paint brings back the original color and look of the stone, giving your home a lovely vintage feel. 
  • Paint is notorious for trapping water inside and causing the stone to break down from within. 
  • It may be cheaper since you are not paying to have a company remove the paint. 
removing paint from stone exterior

Cons to Removing Paint From Stone Exterior 

As Newton so famously stated, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In other words, to every pro, there is a con. 

DIY’ing your stone paint removal project has some massive drawbacks:

  • No matter how gentle you are, removing paint always damages the stone.
  • Harsh chemicals pose a huge threat to your health.
  • Lead-based paint (often used on older home exteriors) is considered hazardous waste.
  • The paint might be serving an important purpose such as covering up a repair or protecting the stone from the elements. 
  • You may end up shelling out a lot of cash on different methods, materials, and repairs. 

Call A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration in Portland to Learn the Best Way to Remove Paint From Stone for Your Home or Building

What is the best way to remove paint from stone? Call the professionals. When it comes to removing paint from stone exteriors, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and the job is usually better left to the folks who have spent years doing it. 

Here at A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration, paint removal is more than just something we do — it is in our name! We have the experience your project needs. 

We have worked in paint removal for well over 25 years and, in that time, we have refined our methods to bring you the best techniques that the paint removal industry has to offer. 

Instead of spending your long weekend off work scraping, blasting, and buying Advil for your chemical-induced headache, call A1 Paint Removal, Painting & Restoration and let us take care of everything while you kick back and relax (or tackle the rest of your to-do list!). 

best way to remove paint from stone