Home Improvement

How to Remove Paint From Walls – Expert Tips and Tricks

Are you tired of your old wall colours? Do you want to mix things up? Got your eye on a cool wall design for your sitting room? Well, then it’s time to repaint it!

But hold on – can you just paint over the old colour? What if it shows through? What if the paint underneath is old and flaking? In this case, you’ll need to remove the old paint before you put on your painting overalls.

You may be wondering just how to remove paint from a wall. Don’t worry! In this post, we’ll tell you all about it.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Are planning on repainting a wall;
  • Want to get rid of fading or flaking paint;
  • Own an old house and are worried about lead paint,

Then keep on reading! This post is just for you.

Do you really need to remove the paint?

Before you get down to business, decide if you actually need to remove the paint. Is it chipping or bubbling? Is it uneven? If so, then yes, it’s best to remove the paint before putting on a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper. If your old paint is smooth, even, and undamaged, however, you can just paint over it.

So, if you’ve made sure your old paint needs to be removed, then let us teach you how to do just that.

How to remove paint from a wall

There are a few methods you can choose from when removing paint from walls. But before we get into that, you need to prepare the room for the process.

Prepare the area

Getting paint off walls is a messy process. So, make sure that your belongings won’t get damaged when you do it.

Take down any pictures and decorations. Move the surrounding furniture as far away as you can. Better yet, cover it with a plastic sheet after you move it. Better safe than sorry.

Lay down drop cloths, newspapers, or any other covering on the floor around your wall. Cover your skirting boards and tape them up, too, if you’re going to be using chemicals, to make sure they don’t drip down and damage the finish.

Protect yourself

Protecting your home isn’t where the preparation stops. You need to protect yourself and your health, as well. Removing paint by any method can create lots of dust or fumes that can be pretty dangerous when inhaled.

So, get yourself some proper safety equipment. Wear gloves to protect your hands and a face mask to prevent dust or fume inhalation.

Now let’s move on to the fun part (or tedious, depending on how you look at it) – choosing how to remove the paint from the walls!

Choose your method

There are four main methods you can use to remove paint from a wall, so let’s go over each of them.

Scrape the paint off

What you need: a wire brush, a paint scraper or oscillating scraping tool

One of the easiest ways to remove already flaking or peeling paint is to scrape it off. Use the wire brush to take off any chipping and cracking paint. Then, carefully position the flat side of a sharp scraper underneath the paint and push gently to peel it off. To make things easier or cover larger areas, use an oscillating tool with a scraping blade.

Manually scraping a whole wall of paint off can be hard work and requires a lot of elbow grease. If you don’t feel up to the task or you want to speed up the process, move on to the method below.

Use paint stripper

What you need: paint stripper, plastic sheets, kraft paper, sharp scraper

Using paint stripping chemicals is a good, fast, and also the easiest way to remove paint. It’s great for plaster walls in particular.

You need to make an adjustment to your floor coverings, however. Instead of drop cloths, use a plastic sheet as a base, then put kraft paper on top. This will make sure no chemicals get on your floor.

Layer the paint stripper on with a wide brush. Wait for the specified amount of time – the paint should start to bubble up. When it does, use a scraper to remove it. Start from the bottom, push the scraper underneath the paint and work your way to the top.

When you’re done, you need to neutralise the chemicals, otherwise, the new coat of paint will fall right off. To do that, follow the instructions on the label, as they can differ for each product.

Use sandpaper

What you need: 40-grit sanding block or oscillating sanding tool

Sanding is a good method to remove paint from a wall when it comes to drywall, however, it will take some elbow grease and a lot of time to get rid of all the paint. That said, it is perfect for getting rid of any kinks in the paint if you don’t plan to remove the whole layer and just want to paint over it.

Work in sections, using a 40-grit sanding block. To make things go easier and faster, use an oscillating sanding tool.

Opt for a heating gun

Heat is a good way to remove paint from a wooden wall. So, grab your heating gun or iron.

You’ll need to work in small sections here. Apply heat a few centimetres away from the wall, moving the heat gun back and forth. Once the paint starts bubbling, get your scraper and remove the chunk you’ve loosened. Then just repeat the process on the next section.

If your home was built before the 1980s, it’s possible that the paint used contains lead. Lead test swabs can be used to check for the element. If that’s the case, call a professional to handle it for you.

Fix cracks in plaster walls

Now, having removed all the old paint is the perfect time to fix any hairline cracks. With time and due to the constant vibrations from outside traffic, it’s quite possible you get a crack here and there. If you do find any, don’t worry, it’s an easy fix.

  1. Enlarge the hole with a Stanley knife. The point is to form a V-shaped groove.
  2. Vacuum the hole to remove any fine dust and debris.
  3. Prepare a patching compound.
  4. Dampen the groove with a sponge.
  5. Apply the compound into the groove. Use a scraper so you can both apply the material and remove the excess.
  6. Wait for the compound to dry and then sand the surface.
  7. Finally, prime the area.

If the crack is is larger, or you need more information, check our dedicated post on how to fix cracks in plaster walls.

Wash the wall

Now that you’re done removing the paint, you want to make sure there are no leftover particles on the wall. To do that, use a solution of water and soap, and a sponge to wash it. Let it dry completely.

Clean up after

While you’re waiting for the wall to dry, you can start cleaning up. Gather up the floor and furniture coverings and throw away the debris. If any dust has made its way onto the floor, just sweep it up. To make sure everything’s clean, consider using an after builders cleaning checklist.

And there you go! Your wall is now ready to be primed and painted all over again.

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  • First, decide on whether you really need to remove the paint.
  • Always wear protective equipment, such as a face mask and gloves.
  • Put down protective coverings over your floor and furniture.
  • There are four ways you can remove paint from a wall – scraping, stripping, sanding, and heating.
  • Wash the wall with a solution of water and soap afterwards.
  • If there is a risk that your house contains lead paint, call a professional to deal with it, as it can be dangerous.


Did you find this post helpful? Do you have any tips of your own on removing paint from walls? Let us know down in the comments!

Image source: Shutterstock / franz12

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