How to Strip Indoor Painted Walls

Updated November 21, 2016

A common mistake when painting walls is not stripping the old paint off the walls before you apply new coats. You often end up with speckles or sections of old paint leaking through the new top coat. This is a real mess. Additionally, if you are restoring a home, you may need to remove lead-based paint prior to painting walls. Whatever the reason, you can strip paint from indoor walls easily.

Remove as much furniture and items from the room as possible. This gives you plenty of space in which to work, and protects your possessions. Cover remaining furniture and items with plastic or cloth tarps to collect dust and debris that may result from the stripping process.

Open windows or use a fan to vent fumes and debris from the work location. You should have plenty of air flow in the area. Venting the area is very important if you use a heat gun or are removing lead paint, because fumes and lead dust likely will result.

Put on a dusk mask to protect against fine particle debris, dust, and any chemical fumes that may result from the stripping process.

Work in sections. Hold a heat gun approximately 6 inches from a painted wall section. Different heat guns vary. Follow the manufacture's instructions based on the model of heat gun you have. Allow it to heat and soften the existing paint. Then, use a flat scraper at a 45-degree angle to strip the softened paint. Repeat this process in sections, until you complete one wall.

Lift tarps that have collected paint debris, and take them outside or to a receptacle to dispose of the debris. Replace the clean tarps on your furniture and other items in the room.

Load an electric sander with fine-grain sanding paper. Place the sander flush against the wall surface. Sand in a circular motion along the wall, working in small sections. Apply even pressure with the sander to ensure you do not damage the wall or create indents or pockmarks. Repeat the circular sanding, in sections, until you sand the entire wall.

Using a feather duster, start from the top of the wall and work to the baseboard, dusting the stripped indoor painted wall. You also can use any soft cleaning cloth. However, it is important that the cloth be free of lint or particles that may cling to the wall's surface.

Repeat steps four through step seven to strip indoor painted walls in an entire room. Remember to work in sections, and try to avoid breathing in lead-paint chips or dust. This prevents lead particles from getting into your body and lungs.

Paint the wall with a paint that does not have a lead base, and allow it to dry. Remove the tarps. Return items and furniture to the room.


Avoid using harsh chemical solvents to strip indoor painted walls. These pose many health hazards. Do not heat the paint too long with the heat gun. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Use extra caution when you strip indoor painted walls that contain lead-based paint. You do not want to breathe in lead paint fumes, or inhale lead paint dust or chips. Wear a safety mask, and make certain the area has good ventilation.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or cloth tarps
  • Dust mask
  • Fan
  • Heat gun
  • Electric sander
  • Fine-grain sanding paper
  • Feather duster or soft cloth
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About the Author

Daniel Smith graduated from technical school in 1993 and has been writing since 2005. His has written numerous articles for the instructional website called eHow in areas including gardening, home improvement, celebrating special events and health-related topics.