How To Remove Paint From River Rock: All Fixes!

With their smooth surface, river rocks are a perfect canvas for painting. However, once the paint dries, it can be tough to remove.

Before attempting to remove paint from rocks, it’s essential to ensure they’re clean. If they’re covered in an oily substance like algae or moss, use a plastic scrub brush and soapy water to clean them before continuing. Then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Check out the methods below to remove paint from river rock that has been used with success. Determining which option will work best depends on how much color is on the rocks, what kinds of paints were used and how long the stains have dried.

6 Methods To Use For Removing Paint From River Rock

MethodsRequired Time
Water Washing15-30 minutes
Steam Stripping20-30 minutes
Non-Caustic Chemical Remover10-20 minutes
Caustic Chemical Remover5-15 minutes
Mechanical Abrasive5-10 minutes
Manual Abrasive5-15 minutes

Water Washing

  • Use the sponging and rubbing approach if the paint doesn’t go.
  • Water and a soft-bristled brush are required.
  • This works wonders on friable or old paints, emulsions, and lime wash.

Steam Stripping

  • When stripping water-based thinned paints, use low-pressure, super-heated stripping.
  • Slowly scrub the surface.
  • This technique is simple and cleans the stone without corroding it.

Non-Caustic Chemical Remover

  • You can also employ non-caustic chemical removal agents to remove paint from stone.
  • This is a powerful technique for removing wet and dry oil- or latex-based paints.

Caustic Chemical Remover

  • On the other hand, potash and caustic soda are excellent alkalines or caustic chemical removers for water-based paints.
  • They could hurt if they are left on the stone for too long.
  • Apply it to remove the paint, and then give everything a good rinse in water.
  • Leave no trace behind.

Mechanical Abrasive

  • Sand, grit blasting, and high-pressure water cleaning are all used as mechanical abrasives.
  • To protect the stone, carefully remove the paint.

Manual Abrasive

  • Remove the paint by sanding, scraping, and using wire bristles.
  • Because it is harsh, you should carefully scrape off the paint to prevent any harm.

Remove Paint From Rock Using Chemical Remover In 5 Steps


  • Put on a pair of everyday rubber gloves to safeguard your hands from the remover for spray paint.
  • You shouldn’t require a respirator if you are working outside, but if you are in a closed space, you should consider wearing a painter’s mask even if the substance you are using emits little fumes.
  • And you also shouldn’t do this around open flames.

Use Paint Remover

  • Spray the stone with paint remover.
  • These are either sprayed on or applied with a sponge or moistened wipes.
  • Regardless of the type, ensure the product covers the paint completely.

Wait A Bit

  • Allow the product to develop for a while.
  • Depending on the product, a wait time may be required.


  • Take a scrub brush and scrub the area.
  • If the stone is permeable, you’ll need to scrape vigorously.
  • You might get away with using the rough side of a kitchen sponge if the stone is well-polished.


  • To remove the residual paint, use a wet sponge.
  • To prevent the paint from merely smearing, rinse the sponge multiple times.
  • If the product specifies it—some do—rinse the stone.

4 Tips While Removing Paint From River Rock

Pick Your Chemical Carefully

For removing paint from the stone, conventional paint strippers that have methylene chloride are not the best option.

You cannot use a paint scraper to remove the paint that the paint stripper has softened off the stone due to its irregular surface.

You must scrape it instead, but you don’t want to scrub with a caustic substance that can burn your skin and hurt your eyes.

While there are numerous alternatives to caustic strippers, using a soy-based product is one of the simplest and most efficient.

While it will take a little patience, you won’t need to be concerned about suffering burns to your skin or breathing in harmful chemicals.

Apply It With Thick Coating

There will undoubtedly be a mess; therefore, it’s crucial to cover the floor and adjacent walls with plastic sheeting.

The sheeting should ideally be secured with masking tape. You can now use an old paintbrush to apply the stripper in a coating that is 1/8 inch thick or more.

You cannot overdo it, so don’t worry about it. Although the substance is safer than methylene chloride, rubber gloves, a respirator, and a lot of ventilation are still required.

Wrap the stripper with a piece of clear plastic after the application is finished to prevent drying out while it works.

Always Scrub The Paint

It may take many hours for the paint to become soft enough to remove from the stone, despite the producer of one soy gel solution claiming that the paint is suitable to strip 45 minutes after using the stripper.

To remove the paint and stripper, use a scrub brush with firm bristles. Because the stripper is water-soluble, you may clean the scrub brush by submerging it in a tub of water.

Lead-based paint can be safely removed thanks to soy gel; however, lead-based paint-containing stripper residue is dangerous.

You should ask a professional to remove the paint if it was applied before 1979 and may contain lead.

Wash The Residue Off

To remove the paint completely, the stripper may need to be applied more than once, and when it is, a thin, milky residue will be left behind.

If you can’t remove most of it using clear water, you can purchase a cleaning product from the same company that creates soy gel.

But instead of spending that money, try white vinegar. This all-purpose condiment can tackle a range of cleaning duties because of the acetic acid it contains when it’s not seasoning salads and french fries.

It can sharpen and shine the stones and remove their milky residue.

What To Remember While Removing Paint From Rock

  • The stone may have been coated to hide previous repairs. That’s why doing so might leave it looking unappealing.
  • Paint may prevent rain from penetrating the highly porous stone.
  • In your area, painting can be the customary look. This is why getting rid of it might need planning permission.
  • You need permission to remove paint from historic or conservation locations.
  • Always expect some damage to the stone while removing paint. That is why you should test a small area first.
  • Lead-based paint is a toxic waste, and chemical paint removers can harm your health.
  • Particularly in cases where historically accurate colors have been applied liberally, porous stone types may be extremely difficult to remove paint from.

Bottom Line

It might be tricky, but not impossible, to get spray paint off of river rocks. After applying the right removal agent, you will need to clean the rock more vigorously if it is porous.

Removal is simpler if the polished rock is decorative.

Numerous treatments have been created expressly for removing spray paint from rocks of all types. These are available at most home improvement and hardware stores in aerosol spray form and various forms.


How can acrylic paint be removed from a rock?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove dried acrylic paint from painted rocks.

Can paint be removed from stone?

You can also employ non-caustic chemical removal agents to remove paint from stone. This is a powerful technique for removing wet and dry oil- or latex-based paints.

How do you clean granite rocks of paint?

The use of a lacquer thinner is required to remove dry paint from granite. Wipe the lacquer thinner lightly to the paint spill using a delicate cloth.

Then, using a fresh razor blade positioned at a 45-degree angle to the stone’s surface, you can carefully scratch the paint off the granite.