How to Remove Dried Paint from Glass and Windows Using a Scraper or Paint Remover

Summary: For this DIY guide we take a look at removing paint from glass and windows that has been accidentally splashed on and allowed to dry. You will learn about the type of scraper you should use and also how to use it to ensure that you do not scratch the glass or create any other permanent damage. You will also learn about specialist cleaners and paint strippers that can be used to remove dried paint from glass and windows and also about special masking tape that prevents paint bleed on to glazing while painting.

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A badly painted window looks a mess! Even if you have spent the time painting the frame up really nicely, if you get paint on the glass it totally spoils the overall job.

Traditionally using masking tape to tape over the glass around the inside of the window can help but most masking tape never seems to stick to the glass completely and the paint nearly always finds its way underneath.

However, in recent years several products have emerged with the purpose of solving this exact problem, one such product can be seen in the image below. It is a special type of low-tack masking tape that reacts with emulsion paint when it touches it to form a barrier and stop it going any further.

Painters low-tack masking tape

Low-tack delicate painter's masking tape - Available in our online store

Despite using special masking tape, there is a tendency to take less care as subconsciously you think that the glass is protected. This can lead to you taking less care with the brush and increase the risk of paint finding its way onto the glass.

fortunately, any spillages are pretty easy to get rid of. If the paint is still wet e.g. you have just put it on and caught the glass by mistake, use an old, clean cloth to wipe it off.

If it has dried on there are essentially two different ways you can get rid of it:

  • Use a scraper to scrape the paint off
  • Use a solvent based paint remover

Removing Paint from Glass with a Scraper

Paint splash on PVCu door glazing

Paint splash on PVCu door glazing

Before you start, grab a bucket and put some warm water in it and add some washing up liquid to it, mixing it in until you get bubbles start to form.

Using a cloth or sponge, pop it in the bucket and get it nice and wet and then wipe the window over around the area of the paint mark(s) making it damp. The washing up liquid in the water will help ensure that the scraper moves over the surface of the glass smoothly and minimise any risks of scratching.

Window and glass scraper

Window and glass scraper - Available in our online superstore

Once the glass has been wetted down, take your scraper and insert a new blade. A new, sharp blade will make the job of scraping the paint off much easier. Be careful when inserting the new blade as they are very sharp.

If you have recently painted areas around the window or window sill and the paint has not yet dried properly, it may be best to leave it until it has as we will be using soapy water and spilling the water on tacky paint may cause it to run or even worse, ruin the overall finish.

The scraper itself is pretty straight forward to use. Hold it so that blade is touching the glass and is as flat as possible - no more than 45°. If held at a sharp or acute angle, the blade could dig into the glass and scratch it or even worth crack or break it.

Before you start, test the blade on a small area, preferably in one corner to test whether all is working as it should and the blade is not causing damage.

When using it, make sure that you lift it off the surface of the glass between scrapes so that you are only scraping in one direction. This will decrease the chances of any scratches.

Additionally, make sure that the blade you're using remains sharp. If it starts to make a scraping or scratching noise then change it for a new one. Above all, just take your time and don't rush as this could lead to more damage.

Make sure that you keep the glass damp by using your soapy water and sponge to prevent scratches and also to remove any loose paint.

When you're done and all the paint has been removed from the surface, use the soapy water to give it a good clean all round and then use a chamois leather or window squeegee to remove any remaining moisture or streaks.

The same scraper can be used to scrape unwanted transfers from ceramic tiles. Once the transfers have been removed it is advisable to rub over the tile surface hard with a cloth dipped in white spirit. This should remove any remaining adhesive.

Paint splash removed from PVCu door glazing

Paint splash removed from PVCu door glazing

Removing Paint from Glass with Solvents and Specialist Paint Removers

There are many different types of solvents and specialist cleaners for glass and paint removal on the market all with their own positives and negatives. Many tend to be solvent based which comes with the potential downsides of strong overbearing smells, toxic chemicals and the potential for burn injuries.

If you are careful then these substances can be used to great effect and remove paint spillages very well.

On the whole a cellulose paint thinner will work well on most paint types if you don't know the exact type of paint that is on the glass (e.g. acrylic paint or enamel paint etc....) but if you do then the following info will help:

  • Enamel Paints:: An acetone based cleaner will work best on paints for this type
  • Acrylic Paints: Alcohol based cleaners will work well with this type of paint

When using these types of paint cleaner and remover always read the manufacturer’s instructions and use the product as directed. Always ensure that you have plenty of ventilation in the area you are working in as fumes can build up and before you know it you're feeling very light-headed and dizzy.

Here at DIY Doctor we are always on the look-out for tools and products that are both innovative and actually work. One such product that we came across a while ago can be seen in the image below. It's an eco-friendly PVCu cleaner and paint remover that's water based and totally solvent free.

We have used it on numerous projects and have found it to be a great product and very effective cleaner. To find out more see our product review here.

Eco-friendly PVCu cleaner and paint remover

Eco Solutions PVCu cleaner and paint remover - Available in our online toolstore here

When using any of the above cleaners, ensure that you fully protect all surrounding paint work with masking tape and sheets as if any of your chosen paint stripper or remover is allowed to get on them, then they will almost certainly be damaged.

When you're done, give the whole area a good wipe over with some clean, soapy water to remove and residue and paint flakes.

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