How to Remove Paint From Walls
Last Updated Jul 19, 2011 · Written by Rob Schneider
If you want to remove paint from walls, the first thing you need to know is that there is no easy way to do it. Paint is manufactured to stick to walls and it usually does this very effectively. While it may not be an easy job, there are ways how to remove paint from walls that can make the job easier, cleaner and safer.
When to Remove Paint
First ask yourself whether or not you really need to remove the paint from your walls. If the existing paint is adhering well to your walls, you may be able to simply paint over it. If the paint is a dark colour and you want to replace it with a light coloured paint, it's best to first provide one or two coats of primer. If you are repainting the walls in the same or very similar colour, you may be able to get away with just one coat to freshen up the walls.
If your wall paint is peeling, flaking or cracking, then it's best to thoroughly remove the old paint before repainting your walls. Regardless of the method you choose, it is going to be a messy job, so first remove any furniture and lay down plenty of drop cloths. Any method you use to remove the paint will include plenty of scraping, so your two indispensable tools will be a good paint scraper and a dust mask to protect you from inhaling the fine dust you will be creating.
Start by peeling away any loose paint you find. You may discover that when you remove one paint bubble, you will easily be able to get your scraper between the surrounding paint and the surface of the wall and remove large swathes of paint without much difficulty. When it gets to the point where the paint resists removal is when you will need some assistance. There are two good ways to loosen paint from walls:
- Liquid paint removers use chemical activity to break down the paint's chemical structure, making it soft and easy to to remove with your scraper. If you choose this option, read the safety directions carefully. Wear protective gloves and eyeglasses and work in a well-ventilated area. Apply the liquid as directed and let it "set" for the specified amount of time. Most commercially available paint removers come in gel form, for added safety.
- The application of heat loosens paint from the walls and allows you to remove it easily. It's best to use a heat gun or heat plate to do this. If you use a heat gun, start slowly and only apply as much heat as needed to make the paint easy to lift from the wall. Take a trial and error approach and always remember that there is always a fire danger involved. Never use an open flame device for removing paint. Not only is the potential fire hazard much greater, too much heat can release toxic fumes. A safer method is to use an special purpose heat plate that becomes only as hot as it needs to in order to loosen the paint.
Sanding is the least recommended way to remove paint. It produces a great deal of dust that will remain in the air for a long time and pose a health danger, not to mention a mess when it settles on your carpet and furniture. If sanding is required, keep it to a minimum. Leaded paints still pose a danger in older homes. Lead is a known poison and it can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin during the paint removal process.
For perfect results with a minimum of fuss, locate a professional painter
in your local area. Ask for a free quote or estimate. You may be surprised by just how economical getting professional help can be.