How To's - How to Strip Paint from a Wall

How to Strip Paint from a Wall

When it’s time to paint, you’ll usually want to paint over the current coat rather than strip it from the wall. This is especially true of painted drywall, as the paint soaks into the paper and you don’t want to scrape off the drywall paper! There are, however, many good reasons to strip paint from a wall.


Paint that has bubbled or flaked on a wall should be stripped. You can’t paint over it; the bubbles and flakes will show through the new paint job. Hard surfaces like wood or masonry may need special attention, too.


A simple rule of thumb is that you want a smooth surface to paint on. If it’s not smooth, strip it as needed until you have a good surface to paint. Now, masonry may never give you a perfectly smooth surface, but you do need to remove chipped, flaked or residual paint that might ruin the finish of your new paint job.


One important note: If the wall you will be working on is in an old home that dates back before 1978, you may have lead-based paint below the surface. If you plan to do more than surface repairs or intend to remove all the paint on the wall, you may want to consult with or hire a professional.

Tools Needed to Strip Paint from a Wall

  • Paint scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Towels
  • Drop cloth
  • Shop Vac
  • Dust mask

Materials Needed to Strip Paint from a Wall

If you need to scrape paint from a wood or masonry surface, you may want to use a chemical paint stripper to simplify the job. Some products will make the job very easy, like those that use methylene chloride, but you need to use these with caution. There are other products made with soy or citrus that work well but may require a little more effort; the upside is they are less toxic.


Regardless of what you choose, if you use a chemical wall paint remover, always ensure the room is well-ventilated and that you wear protective gear. Here are materials you’ll need when using a chemical paint stripper or paint remover:


  • Chemical paint stripper – choose one that matches your surface
  • Paint roller
  • Roller tray with insert
  • Paint brush
  • Disposable paint coveralls
  • Plastic gloves
  • Goggles
  • Dust mask, at a minimum

How to Remove Wall Paint

There are several different ways to remove wall paint. Use the one that best fits your surface. Before you start, always lay a drop cloth down, especially if you will be using a chemical paint remover.




When the wall only needs work in a few areas, try scraping. Grab your scraper and scrape the loose paint. Work the area in all directions to ensure you get all the paint.


Do this to remove all bumps, bubbles, flakes or peeling paint on the wall. Use a wire brush for hard-to-reach places or to bring a section of paint smooth with the wall. If there are any holes or gouges after scraping, patch the wall with joint compound or spackle. Then take sandpaper and sand smooth. Once dry, wipe with a damp sponge or cloth towels.




Sometimes a scraper can’t remove all the paint, especially if there are a lot of small flakes. In instances like these, use sandpaper to sand the surface smooth.


Use a Chemical Paint Remover


When using any chemical, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper use and personal safety. Generally, here’s how you will use a chemical paint remover to strip paint safely.


1. Put drop cloths in place on the floor. Cover furniture as needed.


2. Using a paint roller, apply the paint stripper to the entire wall. Take your time to make certain the paint stripper covers all the paint.


3. When the paint bubbles, scrape off with a paint scraper. If the application dries before the paint bubbles, reapply. Always scrape with the grain when scraping wood.


4. Once the paint is removed, rinse and wash with cold, clear water.


Scraping a Textured Wall


You simply cannot scrape a textured wall without removing the texture. So, don’t try. Keep it simple by scraping off the texture with the paint, sand it smooth, apply a new texture, prime and paint.

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