There are many reasons you may have to strip paint from your drywall before you apply something new. Old paint may be uneven, peeling, or just plain poor-quality, all of which need to come off. Follow the steps below to effectively accomplish this task.
Difficulty: Low; a novice can do this.
Time: This depends on how many layers of paint you're removing and the size of the room. For example, a bedroom-sized room would take about 1 1/2 to four hours to complete.
Step 1 - Check for Lead-Based Paint
In homes built before 1978, lead-based paint was commonplace, so if your home dates back to this period, you must use a testing kit to determine whether you're dealing with lead before you do anything else. If your paint test shows negative for lead, proceed with stripping the paint yourself, but if your test is positive for lead, do not attempt to remove this yourself. Contact a professional restoration service to take of this because the drywall itself may have to be removed.
Tip: Lead paint can be removed, but it requires special clothing, respirators, and a contained area, and it must be disposed of properly. The easiest fix for lead paint is to cover it with paneling instead.
Step 2 - Prepare Room for Paint Stripping
Move all furniture out of the room if possible. Anything that cannot be move should be distributed in several areas throughout the room, at least two feet out from the walls. Think several small islands instead of a huge continent; if it is all in the center, it will be a very big obstacle.
Once everything is moved, cover the furniture and floors with drop cloths. Open windows or bring in a fan for adequate ventilation, and take down curtains and blinds.
Step 3 - Apply Paint Stripper and Peel off old Paint
Make sure the stripper you purchase will be effective for your type of paint whether it be oil-based or latex-based. Pour some into a paint tray, and use a roller to apply it to your walls. Then, peel off the stripper and the paint with a broad putty knife once it has penetrated deep. Wear goggles, a respirator, and rubber gloves the entire time you're working with this chemical.
Find paint stripper on Amazon
If there are three or fewer layers of old paint over the drywall, you shouldn't use any paint stripper. Its chemicals will severely damage the drywall underneath.
Tip: Give paint stripper enough time to work, but do not let it dry up. Work in small enough sections, so it does not dry before you get to it.
Step 4 - Sand off Remaining Paint
You can rent an orbital sander from a building supply center for a day or borrow one from someone you know. Be sure to use one that has a dust extraction feature to keep your work area cleaner and give you less to do later.
Attach a 60 or 80-grit sanding disk and, while wearing goggles and your face mask, move it in all directions over the wall to sand off the remaining paint. If the paint is very thick and uneven, switch to a 40-grit sanding disk. Use rotating, up and down, and sideways motions. Do not let the sander linger over any spot, as it may gouge the drywall. Also, try not to sand or scrape off the paper surface of the drywall; use just enough pressure to take off the paint. Make sure to wear earplugs too. Not only are orbital sanders noisy, but the motor's sound is also very high-pitched. You can sustain damage to your high-frequency hearing quickly from exposure to sound at this frequency level.
Tip: This usually the easiest way to remove the paint, but it creates a tremendous amount of dust, and usually wet sanding is recommended. However, the wet sanding is done by hand and could hurt the surface of the wall, so the dry sanding is okay. No matter how you sand or strip the paint off, some of the drywall's paper surfaces will probably be broken and may require the use of spackle, or joint compound to repair it.
Step 5 - Clean Up the Room
Sweep and then vacuum the dust off the walls and floor. Dust afterward with a large dry rag, preferably made of polar fleece fabric since it is superb at trapping dust. Do not wash the drywall surface to get rid of dust as it is porous and will be damaged by water or any chemicals, soaps, or detergents.
Edward Kimble, a professional painter and author of Interior House Painting Blog contributed to this article.
Strip Paint From Drywall FAQ
What is the quickest way to strip paint?
The best way to strip paint depends on what you are stripping the paint from. To strip paint from wood, for example, the best tool is a paint scraper.
The best method for removing paint from metal, however, is to soften it first using heat. Getting rid of paint on plastic is best done with a chemical solution first.
However, in almost all cases, you will be scraping paint away after first treating it to make it easier to remove.
What removes paint instantly?
Many different types of paint are used in home decor and there is no universal method for removing all paint.
Ammonia works very well to remove acrylic paint from non-porous surfaces, including plastic, glass, and metal. Denatured alcohol works well to remove latex paint, even from wood.
If you're trying to remove oil-based paint, mineral spirits work well but only on non-wood surfaces.
There are also a number of chemical formulas on the market that are designed specifically to strip paint.
However, the only thing that really removes paint instantly is a scraper.
Should I strip paint or sand it?
Unless paint is already flaking and peeling off quite a bit, stripping is a far more effective method of removing paint rather than sanding it off. You will use a lot more energy to sand the paint off and it will take longer.
What is the cheapest way to remove paint?
The most inexpensive way to remove paint is to use sandpaper. This is more labor-intensive and takes longer than some other methods, but sandpaper is incredibly affordable and you will use your own elbow grease to power it.
However, buying chemical solvents and paint scrapers does not cost very much more and it will save you a lot of time and energy.
How long does paint stripping take?
The amount of time you spend stripping paint depends on how large an area or an item is that you need to remove paint from. Once a stripper is applied, you can start removing paint in as little as 20 minutes.
Actually removing the paint, however, can take hours if you're removing paint from an entire room, for example.