How do you remove emulsion paint off of walls?

Updated February 21, 2017

Emulsion paint is a type of paint in which the pigment or colour is placed in a synthetic resin, creating a pigment bead. These small pigment beads are then dispersed in water. The beads do not mix into the water, much like oil will not mix with water, but rather the beads sit below the water. However, the beads are so small that this is not visible to the naked eye and the paint looks like any other type of paint. Removing emulsion paint from a wall can be accomplished, but because there are two different layers to remove, the steps may need to be repeated.

Place paint dust sheets over the flooring and any objects that can't be removed. Ventilate the room as much as possible. Open windows or turn on fans.

Apply paint thinner or paint remover to the wall. Using a paintbrush, paint a generous layer of thinner or remover directly onto the wall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the amount of time to allow the paint thinner or remover to sit on the wall.

Use a plastic paint scraper to remove paint. Beginning at the top of the wall, gently scrape the paint with the paint scraper. The paint should easily peel off. If the edges of the paint lift up, try to peel back as much as possible with your hands to remove long strips of paint. Continue scraping and peeling until all of the paint is removed. If the paint is no longer easily scraping off, apply another layer of paint thinner and allow it to work into the wall.

Fill a bucket with warm water and liquid dish soap. Using a sponge, wipe down the walls to remove all leftover paint and paint thinner or remover.


When working with paint thinner or paint remover, wear protective goggles, rubber gloves and a face mask.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • Paint thinner or paint remover
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Eye goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Face mask
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About the Author

Kallie Johnson began her writing career in 2009, contributing to various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She enjoys writing home and garden topics and considers herself an expert on do-it-yourself home improvement topics.