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How to remove flaky paint from interior walls

Updated February 21, 2017

Flaking and peeling paint is an unsightly problem that needs sorting out before you proceed with a new paint job. Old age or walls that were poorly prepared before the paint was applied are common reasons for paint to begin flaking and peeling off. Removing flaky and peeling interior wall paint is an easy job requiring a little bit of time and patience.

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  1. Remove all furniture in the room and anything on the wall -- mirrors, pictures, paintings or whatever. Use a screwdriver to remove screws holding up the wall items.

  2. Spread plastic sheets on the floor and any permanent fixtures, including fireplaces, window frames and counters.

  3. Wear thick gloves, goggles and a filter face mask to protect yourself from paint dust.

  4. Scrape away all the flaking paint you can with a 15 cm (6 inch) scraper. Use a smaller, flat scraper for hard-to-reach areas, such as under windows and corners. Always use forward scraping motions when scraping the flaking paint from the walls.

  5. Ask an assistant to hold the ladder for steady support when you're working to reach high spots.

  6. Remove any paint the scraper did not take off with a heat gun. Turn the heat gun on and position the nozzle at least 15 cm (6 inches) from the surface of the wall, working in steady back-and-forth movements. Move to the next area when the paint begins to loosen and bubble. Be careful not to hold the heat gun in one position -- it can burn the wall.

  7. Scrape the loosened and bubbled paint from the walls with the scraper. Unplug the heat gun as soon as you finish using it, to avoid starting a fire.

  8. Attach a medium-grit sanding pad to a handheld sanding block and sand the entire surface of the interior walls.

  9. Wipe away all of the sanding dust with a large sponge dampened with clean water. Allow the walls to dry for one to two hours before doing anything else with the surface.

  10. Warning

    Homes painted before 1978 may have walls painted with lead-based paint. Scraping or sanding lead paint can produce harmful, toxic dust that can cause serious respiratory conditions.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic sheets
  • Thick gloves
  • Goggles
  • Filter mask
  • 15 cm (6 inch) scraper
  • Small flat scraper
  • Ladder
  • Heat gun
  • Medium-grit sanding pad
  • Handheld sanding block
  • Sponge

About the Author

Rachel Turner

Rachel Turner has been writing professionally since 2000, focusing on gardening and home improvement topics. Her articles have appeared online at SlowTravel and in publications such as the "Arkansas Gardeners," "One Step Ahead" and "Writers Now." Turner holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Arkansas State University.

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