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Can You Remove Epoxy From Concrete/Tile?

There are some types of surfaces that are permanent and others are just extremely durable. If you have epoxy over concrete, is it possible to remove the epoxy?

You can remove epoxy from concrete but it is going to take a lot of work to do it. There are options available, but sometimes you just need to use a grinder and grind all of the epoxy away from the top down. You can rent industrial grinders at a local hardware store or you can hire a contractor to do the work for you.

Man finishing the floor with epoxy cleaner

Although it certainly is possible to remove epoxy from concrete, it’s not a job that is typically done by most homeowners. It’s hot, dirty work that can take a long time.

On top of that, if you don’t work carefully, you may end up damaging the concrete under the epoxy. This can be a real problem, leading to additional work and cost.

Can You Remove Epoxy From Concrete?

Man thinking while holding a paint

As is the case with almost any home DIY process, there are options available. Some of these may be better for those who are doing a smaller job.

If you are doing a small job and just need to remove epoxy from a small amount of concrete, you can do it without renting a grinder. It will take some time, but it will be well worth the effort.

This is an option that is often considered for homeowners that spill some epoxy on concrete and just need to remove that small amount of epoxy. It might also work for a very small room or perhaps if you have a small concrete countertop that has epoxy on it.

As is the case with any type of work, you need to prepare properly in order for the process to be done in a way that will be satisfactory. Without preparing, you are likely to have to go back and clean up your work or you may even damage the concrete in some way or another.

Most people who are removing epoxy want to put down another type of floor that would require the concrete to remain intact. This is important to consider, because there may be times in which damaging the concrete slightly is not going to matter.

For example, if you are going to put any other type of flooring over the concrete, such as tile or wood, it really won’t matter if the concrete gets damaged slightly. In addition, there are self-leveling compounds that can be used to simply float the concrete floor if it does get chipped or damaged in any way.

The real reason you would want to avoid damaging the concrete is if you plan on using it in the flooring you are considering. For example, do you want to stain the concrete or somehow beautify it for use?

If so, care must be taken not to damage the concrete. Once the concrete is damaged, you will not be able to bring it back again.

The only option you will have once it is damaged is to put a self-leveling compound over it and float the entire floor. You might also be able to pour some more concrete, but that will also cause problems of its own.

For example, if you are putting down certain types of flooring over the concrete, it needs to be dry. Concrete is inherently wet and it takes time to dry to acceptable moisture levels.

Generally speaking, concrete will take anywhere from 30 to 90 days before it is appropriately dry for most finishes. This is not typically a problem if you are removing epoxy and working with the old concrete slab underneath it.

On the other hand, if you have to pour new concrete or float the concrete, it will retain some of the moisture for at least a few months. Putting any type of floor over concrete that has not been properly cured can result in various problems.

One issue is that you will have moisture under a floor that could be relatively sealed. If that is the case, it will take a very long time for the moisture to eventually escape.

In the meantime, you have something that can certainly lead to issues, such as mold and mildew. It can build up under the floor and cause problems, even though it goes undetected for many years.

The easiest way to determine if the concrete is dry enough to put any type of new floor down is to get a moisture tester. These are relatively inexpensive but they can save you a lot of money and hassle if you just use one.

It is also important to consider your safety if you are using any type of chemical. For example, we will discuss the use of acetone to soften the epoxy if it is in a small area.

Acetone puts off some very strong fumes and if you are in an enclosed area, it can be problematic. You will need to ventilate the area and wear the appropriate PPE.

In some cases, safety glasses and proper gloves will be all that is really needed. In more enclosed areas where fumes are a problem, you may need to wear a proper respirator.

Of course, not every respirator is going to work against fumes. You need to choose the appropriate respirator so you are not just protecting yourself against particulates. It will typically be marked on the package.

Also, a dust mask or N-95 is not going to provide the level of protection you need for the job. Always verify that you are using the appropriate PPE, especially if you are working with harmful vapors.

How To Remove Epoxy From Concrete?

Man finishing the floor with epoxy cleaner

If you are trying to remove epoxy from concrete, there are various methods that may be utilized. Here are a few to consider.

For small jobs or if the epoxy has not fully cured, you can soak a cloth in acetone and then put it on the epoxy for a few minutes. Eventually, the epoxy will start to soften and it can be removed. In some cases, you can remove it with the cloth but in more stubborn cases, you may need to use a plastic scraper.

It is also important to understand that there is a difference between acetone and paint thinner. You should never mix these two chemicals with each other.

Paint thinner is typically used for wet paint but if the paint has dried, it is still possible to soak it with paint thinner and soften it.

Acetone, on the other hand, will work to soften the epoxy and allow it to be removed. Generally speaking, you would always use acetone when trying to soften or remove epoxy.

Although this may be a relatively small job, it is still important to consider the materials that you use and how you use them. In doing so, you will make it possible to get the job done in a way that is as effective as possible.

First of all, you should never just grab an old rag or towels and start putting down acetone. It is always important to use a clean rag or paper towels.

The reason why this is so important is that you don’t want to mix chemicals. Most people do not know what is on a rag that has been laying on the workbench for quite some time. It is always better to start with a clean rag so you are sure of what you are using.

The proper glove is also important because you don’t want to have skin contact with acetone. It’s not necessarily going to hurt if only happens to a small degree, but you certainly want to reduce any contact.

Nitrile gloves are the ideal option when it comes to working with acetone. Any other type of glove, such as leather or an all-purpose glove, is not going to provide you with the proper protection.

The proper respiratory protection is also something to consider. After you soak the epoxy, you may need to sand it lightly with some wet or dry adhesive paper. This can cause some of the epoxy to go airborne and it could be respirable.

At a minimum, you should be using an N95 mask, but you may also need to use a respirator to protect your respiratory system against vapors. If you are having any type of reaction to the vapors, get into fresh air immediately.

Epoxy Flooring Is Different from Epoxy Paint

There are two possible scenarios when you are trying to remove epoxy from concrete. More than likely, it is in a garage or on another large floor and you want to get down to the concrete underneath.

There is a difference between epoxy paint and epoxy flooring. Each of them will require its own, separate treatment in order to remove it properly.

How to Remove Epoxy Paint from a Concrete Slab

If you have a painted garage floor, epoxy paint is probably what was used. It is a durable floor but it is possible to remove it if you use the proper chemicals and system to do so.

Preparation is the key to success when it comes to removing epoxy paint from concrete. Mop the floor carefully, being sure to get up any old chemicals and oil that have been on the floor. It may take some time, because those chemicals may have been on the floor for a long time.

You will need to get some solvent that will eat through the epoxy paint and soften it enough to strip it away. This can either be purchased online or at a local hardware store.

Each type of epoxy paint remover is going to have its own instructions. Make sure that you dilute it using the proper chemicals and the right measurements. Mixing it stronger is not necessarily going to make it stronger.

One important factor to consider is your safety. Since you are using strong chemicals in a potentially enclosed area, it could overwhelm you very quickly.

It is important to wear the appropriate PPE, including a respirator that will protect you from vapors. At the same time, you should ventilate the room while you are working on it to remove as many of the vapors as possible.

You should also wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, boots, and gloves. The chemicals can be very harsh on the skin so if at all possible, completely avoid contact with your skin.

As you put the stripper down according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will start to soften the epoxy paint and make it possible to remove. Once it is softened, you will need to use a long-handled scraper to separate the paint from the concrete.

It may be necessary to do this process more than one time, but with some diligence on your part, you can end up with a clean slab of concrete.

How to Remove Epoxy Flooring from a Concrete Slab

If you are trying to remove epoxy from a large area, you may need to use an industrial grinder. This is a difficult, dirty job that is often better left to a contractor.

First of all, you probably don’t have an industrial grinder in your toolbox. You will need to rent one from a local hardware store, and that can add to the expense.

Take some time to learn how to use the grinder properly. You also need to take your time because it is possible to damage the concrete under the epoxy flooring and ruin it.

In addition, you should be very careful of any airborne particulates. Wear a respirator or at a minimum, an N95 mask to protect your respiratory system. Those airborne concrete particles contain silica, which can damage your lungs and cause permanent issues.

If you do damage the concrete when grinding it, you will need to float the floor with a self-leveling compound. This isn’t the most desirable option, but it may be your only option at that point.

It is much better to take your time and remove the epoxy flooring without damaging the concrete. It will be time well spent when all is said and done.

What Tools And Preparation Are Needed To Remove Epoxy From Concrete?

Tools use for the floor

As is the case with most home DIY projects, preparation is the key to success when removing epoxy from concrete.

Cleaning the floor thoroughly is the first step in removing the epoxy. You want to remove any chemicals or spills from the floor so that you are not mixing chemicals while removing the epoxy. Once you have cleaned the floor, you can begin with the removal process and you will find it goes much better as a result.

There are very few tools that are necessary to remove epoxy from concrete, but you should have the necessary tools on hand. In addition, there may be different tools, depending on if you are removing epoxy paint or epoxy flooring.

Here is a list of what you should have before the project starts:

  • Clean Rags
  • 5 Gallon Buckets
  • Multiple Scrapers with Fresh Blades
  • Long Handle for Scrapers
  • Floor Grinder (for Epoxy Flooring)
  • Acetone (for Epoxy Paint)
  • Shop-Vac
  • Broom and Dust Pan
  • Mop and Mop Bucket
  • Painters Tape
  • Safety Glasses
  • Respirator
  • N95 Mask
  • Gloves
  • Work Boots

Can You Remove Epoxy From Tile?

Man removing the tiles on the floor

If you have epoxy over tile, it is possible to remove it. The process is similar, regardless of whether it is a large or small area.

Generally speaking, you can soften the epoxy with acetone and once it is softened, it can be wiped away. For more difficult surfaces, it may be necessary to use a plastic scraper and soak the surface numerous times with acetone.

How To Remove Epoxy From Tile

Man removing the tiles on the floor

It is not difficult to remove epoxy from tile. What is difficult is ensuring you don’t damage the tile in the process.

The most factor in the process of removing epoxy from tile is being patient. It will take some time before the epoxy starts to soften so it can be wiped away or scraped off. In addition, it may take multiple passes before the epoxy is completely removed. It is possible to remove the epoxy and save the tile underneath.

Although you may only be working with a small surface, it is still important to ensure that it is prepared properly. If the epoxy has been down for quite some time and it has any stains or spills on it, it will need to be cleaned up first.

Once it is clean, you can soak a clean rag in acetone and put it on the epoxy for a few minutes. This will allow the epoxy to soften, at which point you can either wipe it away or use a plastic scraper to scrape it away.

Always make sure you use a clean rag to avoid mixing chemicals. Most old rags that have been laying around for quite some time have unknown chemicals on them that could be problematic.

In addition, don’t try to force the epoxy to pop off of the tile. Doing so could damage the tile. Take your time, allowing the acetone to do its work with softening the epoxy so it can be removed properly.

Once the epoxy has been removed, you can clean the tile and go about your business.

What Tools And Preparation Are Needed To Remove Epoxy From Tile

Tools use for the floor

Although removing epoxy from tile is a relatively straightforward process, preparation is important if you want to save the tile.

If the epoxy has been on the tile for any length of time, it may need to be cleaned. Any chemical spill or other spill on the epoxy could cause problems when you start to apply acetone to the surface. Once you have prepped the surface by cleaning it, you can simply apply acetone using a clean rag and wait for the epoxy to soften.

There are very few tools that are necessary for this process, but you should have them available in advance.

  • Clean Rags
  • Paper Towels
  • Acetone (Or Fingernail Polish Remover)
  • Plastic Scraper

It is possible to remove epoxy from concrete but you need to take your time and allow the process to do its work. For small areas or if you are removing epoxy paint, you can use chemicals, such as acetone to soften the epoxy. For the removal of epoxy flooring, you may need to use a commercial grinder.

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