5 Steps to Remove Paint from Concrete Walls

Painting a concrete wall
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 70-200
What You'll Need
Cleaning supplies
Drop cloth (optional)
Scraping tool or sandpaper
Solvent or stripping agent
Container or bucket to collect stripped paint
Goggles and gloves
Face or respirator mask
Protective clothing

That fresh new look you’ve planned for your home exterior, living room, kitchen, or bathroom walls will only turn out to be as good as the preparations you make before starting a new paint job. It is important to remove the old paint from concrete walls if it is peeling or flaking. This will involve some elbow grease and, unfortunately, that doesn’t come in a can. Follow this step-by-step guide to make the process easier and hassle free.

Step 1 - Decide What Method You'll Use

For external walls both sandblasting and power washing are tried and tested methods of removing old paint from hard surfaces like concrete. Seek advice from your rental company before deciding on these methods, since both use high pressured water and could cause damage to your wall and yourself if not handled properly. However, with a little practice and care your workload can be cut down significantly.

For internal walls these methods are unsuitable because of the mess they create. If you decide to use an industrial solvent or stripping agent, remember these are toxic and will need to be disposed of carefully. You will need to protect yourself by wearing suitable clothing, rubber gloves, and goggles. There are several soy-based strippers on the market that are safer to use and less hazardous to the environment. These come in the form of a gel that is applied to the surface and allowed to settle for a time. The gel can be reapplied over and over again to the same surface if the old paint is thick or stubborn. A possible drawback is that it can take some time to get the clean result you desire.

Step 2 - Prepare and Clean Surface

white build up on a concrete wall

It is important that the area is free of loose paint, oil, grease, or any foreign substance that may cause discoloration in your final paint job. Remove loose paint with a scraper, wire brush, and cleaning solution. Clear out loose debris from any cracks or holes in the surface and repair with cement or filler such as latex masonry caulk.

Before moving on to the next step, remove or cover any furniture near the wall. You don't want paint stripper or pain particles to get onto anything valuable.

Step 3 - Remove the Paint

Always remember, safety first. Protect yourself by wearing goggles, long sleeves, and full-length pants. Many chemical strippers are toxic and can cause burns or skin irritation, so wear heavy rubber gloves to protect your hands and forearms. Apply the substance to dissolve the old layer of paint and leave it to do its work for the recommended time. Wash thoroughly. You can get started removing paint from the treated surface using an effective combination of scraper, wire brush, and sandpaper.

Step 4 - Collect Stripped Paint for Disposal

Contact your local hazardous materials coordinator for disposal procedures.

Step 5 - Rinse the Concrete Surface With Clean Water

bedroom with dark walls and light floor

Now you’ve created a clean slate for giving your wall that new lease on life.