How to remove paint spatter from varnished wood

Painting can renovate a room without costing hundreds of dollars. With a bit of extra cash and some elbow grease, you can turn a drab room into a fresh and bright area. Unfortunately painting can also be messy, and it is not uncommon for do-it-yourselfers to accidentally get paint on items such as clothing and varnished wood. Fresh paint splatter can be easily removed with warm water and a sponge as long as the paint is still wet. However, if the paint is dried then removing it from the varnished wood will not be as easy.

Open windows and doors to provide adequate ventilation if using chemicals to remove the paint splatter.

Apply hot water directly onto the paint splatter using a cloth. Gently rub the stain with the warm water until the paint splatter is removed. This method should be used as an alternative to chemical products; however, if it doesn't work, move on to Step 3.

Apply a product specifically made for removing paint splatters, such as Goof Off, to the varnished wood and follow all directions and warnings that are printed on the label. Alternatively, mix 1/3 cup of TSP--trisodium phosphate--with 1 gallon of water. Gently scrub the paint splatter with a sponge or cloth saturated in the TSP-water mixture. These chemicals should remove the paint splatter. If they do not, try Step 4.

Slide a putty knife under the paint splatter so that the paint pops off. Since using a putty knife can risk scratching the wood varnish, this method should be used as a last resort.


When painting, it is best to cover floors and other items with a dust sheet to protect it against paint splatter.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge
  • Goof Off or other paint splatter removal product
  • Cloth
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate)
  • Putty knife
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About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.