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How to remove emulsion paint from walls

Updated April 17, 2017

Throughout time, many types of materials and methods have been used to paint houses, from clay and naturally coloured pigments on the walls of prehistoric caves and shacks, to the elaborate painted ceilings of European cathedrals. Today, most household paints are known as emulsion paints. An emulsion is achieved by combining two substances that are not meant to mix together. Many of today's emulsion paints have a water base. A problem faced by many household painters is removing paint that has been applied where it shouldn't be. With a careful approach and a bit of knowledge, removing even the most stubborn paints can be simple.

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  1. Open all the windows in the room where you will be stripping emulsion paint from the walls.

  2. Move any furniture that might be close to the wall you are going to strip of paint. If you are going to strip the paint off all the walls of the room, remove all the furniture from the room.

  3. Place a dropcloth on the floor to keep it safe from any paint stripper you might drip.

  4. Put on your safety glasses and your rubber gloves, and open your can of paint stripper.

  5. Dip your paint brush in the paint stripper and begin to brush over the paint on the wall, beginning with the top of the wall and working toward the floor. Cover the wall completely.

  6. Leave the paint stripper on the walls for 30 minutes to an hour.

  7. Begin to run your paint scraper across the wall, and scrape away all the paint. If the paint does not come off easily, leave the paint stripper on for another 30 to 45 minutes, and then begin scraping the paint again.

  8. Fill a bucket halfway full of water and 60ml (1/4 of a cup) of soap.

  9. Dunk your sponge or cloth in the water/soap mixture and apply to the wall. Continue to wipe down the wall until it is free of paint stripper and paint residue.

  10. Warning

    Never use paint or paint thinner in an enclosed space. Always have a way of ventilating the room.

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Things You'll Need

  • Dropcloth
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Bucket
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Paint Scraper

About the Author

Heather McDowell has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her instructional articles appear online, specializing in topics about cooking, animals and painting. Her major goal is to become a pastry chef and she is planning to pursue a degree in culinary arts at Rend Lake College.

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