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How to remove painted stucco from interior walls

Updated February 21, 2017

While exterior stucco is a portland cement-based material applied over metal lathing, interior stucco is created using a faux material like joint compound or a thick plaster. When you are remodelling and need to remove painted stucco from interior walls, the process is easier than removing exterior stucco, but still time consuming and labour intensive. You must exercise caution during the removal so you do not damage the drywall underneath the stucco coating. It is a tedious process, but not a difficult one.

Prepare the room by removing the furniture and other items that you can. Protect the rest of the area with plastic sheeting or dust sheets. Make sure the entire floor is protected as well.

Score the stucco by placing a 4-inch metal paint scraper against the stucco and tapping the end of the handle with a rubber mallet to break the surface of the stucco. Do this from the floor to the ceiling in a straight line every 3 feet along the wall.

Fill a spray bottle with warm water.

Spray the entire stucco surface of the wall, concentrating on saturating where you have placed your score marks. Let the moisture soak in for 10 minutes and then spray the surface again. Do this until the stucco begins to feel loose or pliable to the touch. Do not use a pressure washer to soak the wall. A pressure washer will put out too much water and pressure and potential damage the supporting wall behind the stucco.

Place the blade into one of the score marks and then tilt the handle down until it is at a 30-degree angle to the wall. Tap the end of the handle gently with a rubber mallet to start the scraper under the stucco layer. Remove the rest by scraping it by hand. Reapply water to the stucco as necessary to soften it.

Tip

It may be easier to simply drywall over the stucco. If the stucco is rising no more than an 1/8 inch from the surface of the wall, you can drywall over it to make a smooth wall. This may be a preferred course of action if your interior stucco contains asbestos.

Warning

Know when your stucco wall was created. Stucco applied before the 1970s most often contained asbestos. Removal of asbestos material requires special precautions to prevent illness.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets (or plastic sheeting)
  • 4-inch paint scraper
  • Rubber mallet
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Drywall (if needed)
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About the Author

Cassandra Tribe has worked in the construction field for over 17 years and has experience in a variety of mechanical, scientific, automotive and mathematical forms. She has been writing and editing for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include culture and society, automotive, computers, business, the Internet, science and structural engineering and implementation.