How do I get emulsion paint off walls?

Emulsion paint is an interior water-based paint that dries fast with few odours. Emulsion paint--like other types of paint--should be removed from the wall before repainting or applying wallpaper. Emulsion can be removed from your walls with a chemical paint stripper. Removing any type of paint can be a messy job and may require several hours.

Remove all items from the room you will be working in, including furniture and wall decorations. Protect the floor by covering with dust sheets.

Provide the area with adequate ventilation. Paint strippers emit unhealthy fumes, so ventilate the room by opening doors and windows.

Wipe the walls with a dust mop to remove surface dirt, dust and cobwebs. Read and follow all directions and warnings printed on your specific brand of paint stripper.

Wear a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves. Pour a little bit of the paint stripper into a plastic paint tray. Put the cap back on the paint stripper to prevent more fumes from leaking out.

Dip a paintbrush into the paint stripper and brush onto the wall, as if you were painting. Work in small areas--about 3- to 4-foot sections at a time.

Allow the chemical paint stripper to sit on the wall for 20 to 30 minutes. Each brand of paint stripper has its own predetermined time. Check the instructions for recommended times.

Scrape the emulsion paint and paint stripper from the wall with a paint scraper. Work in 3- to 4-foot sections at a time. After each pass, wipe the paint scraper clean with paper towels. Continue in this manner until all paint and chemical stripper have been removed from the walls.

Clean the walls with sponge saturated in a mixture of 1 gallon of cool water and 1 tsp of TSP. The mixture will remove any residue left from the paint stripper. Allow the walls to air dry for at least 24 hours before painting or applying wallpaper.


For items to longer to remove from the area, protect them by covering with a dust sheet, tarp, sheet or blanket.


If you feel sick, dizzy or light-headed during the emulsion paint removal move the an area--preferably outside--that has fresh air.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheets
  • Dust mop
  • Heavy-duty rubber gloves
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Plastic paint tray
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint scraper
  • Paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Cool water
  • TSP
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About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.