How to Remove Paint from Walls Fast With & Without Chemicals

Every homeowner has to go through painting and repainting at least once in their lives. But for the repainting to go smoothly and last longer, the walls must be completely clean and stable; this requires removing the old peeling or flaking paint off the walls.

If you’re wondering how to remove paint from walls, then you’ve come to the right place. Because stripping paint from any surface is seldom an easy job. Sometimes manually working through the wall works charms, and sometimes it requires harsh chemicals to apply.

We’ve covered both the aspects of paint removal off the walls in this article, hoping it will be of benefit to you.

Why Is Old and Peeling Wall Paint Removal Important?

Removing old latex paint, oil-based paint, acrylic paint, emulsion paint from walls becomes necessary in two cases.

  • One, when you’re trying to repaint the wall for a new look.
  • And two, when the old paint is not properly adhered to the wall.

If it has been years with that old paint on your walls and it is high time you should give your home a new look, you gotta take off those old paint first. Although some people like to skip this important step, it will make them regret it later on.

Now, if the old paint is of inferior quality, then its adhesiveness is the only thing that will keep the new paint glued to the wall. As soon as the old one starts failing, which will happen soon, the new paint will go with it as well.

And as for stripping flaky paint from the walls, it is much more important since you never know which part of the paint will start peeling off next. Never make the mistake of painting over an already curling and flaking layer.

There are multiple reasons why old paint starts to peel off automatically, and one of them is the appearance of dampness & efflorescence on the wall. It is a great defect of the wall and might become the cause of fungal growth and consequent allergic reaction among those living in the house, especially children.

If the old paint on your wall is peeling, then its removal is of utmost importance. Besides, painting over sanded, treated, and clean walls make the new paint last longer.

How to Remove Paint from Walls Fast

There are plenty of ways to remove paint from walls, and we’ll discuss here some of the most effective ones.

1. Removing Paint by Sanding

Sanding the walls is a manual method that requires you to brush them with sandpaper.

It requires you to use medium grit sandpaper between 80- to 150-grit. You could also use a sanding block with a sandpaper mounted on it. But sanding down painted drywall will need a little bit of manual labor and plenty of time.

The steps required to remove dry paint off the walls start with draping cloths or tarps over the nearby furniture since the process results in a lot of dust.

Besides, you don’t want your furniture to get dirty. Also, face masks, goggles, and thick gloves are needed for your safety as well. However, there is a great way to avoid all the dust. Before sanding, you can wash off the wall with soapy water; this will simplify the job and result in cleaner sanding.

But be careful if you suspect the paint to be older than 1978 since paints till that time used to be lead-based. Sanding this paint can be toxic to humans.

2. Removing Paint by Paint Remover/Thinner

What chemicals are used to remove paint?

Well, the most common chemical used to remove paint is the paint thinner. It is a strong and harsh chemical mainly made with mineral oil-based solvent. Paint thinner thins oil-based paints off a surface. Applying it to remove old paint requires the following steps:

Step 1 – Precaution

Take adequate precaution not to inhale this chemical or the fume caused by this chemical’s reaction with the dried paint. Work in a well-ventilated area, open the windows and wear masks and goggles. Don’t forget to use chemically-resistant gloves while applying them.

Step 2 –Preparation

Remove all the furniture from the room if possible. Otherwise, cover them with old clothes. You need to cover the floor as well since this chemical might eat away and damage it.

Step 3 – Applying Paint remover or Thinner

With the help of an old paintbrush, layer the wall thoroughly with the paint remover or thinner. After applying, wait for 20 minutes for the thinner to take effect.

Step 4 – Removing Paint

When you notice the paint bubbling up, use a plastic scraper to remove that paint. If you apply a long peel, the paint should come off easily. Apply a second coat of the thinner if necessary.

Step 5 – Washing the Wall

Neutralize the thinner chemical by washing the wall properly. Otherwise, it will cause the next paint on the wall to fail.

3. Removing Paint by Scraping

Scraping is probably the oldest method of removing paint off of any surface. Although it takes longer and some strength, but with plenty of brakes, this method is actually really effective. The steps involving removing paint by scraping are:

Step 1 – Sharpening the Scraper

Start by sharpening the scraper with a whetstone. It takes a blunt scraper much more time to peel off old paint from a wall.

Step 2 – Removing the Paint

Old paint jobs have raised edges in various places. Place the scraper’s sharp end under the raised edge of the paint and press forwards. You’ll notice the paint coming off. Repeat this step few times until you get the perfect result.

4. Removing Wall Paint with a Homemade Recipe

There are several homemade DIY recipes for removing paint from a surface. Although paint remover or paint thinner is easily available on the market, they are highly toxic. But these homemade solutions are entirely safe as well as effective.


Take some white kitchen vinegar in a bowl and heat it. You can also heat it in the microwave. Now with the help of a paintbrush, soak the old paint with the hot vinegar. Wait until this vinegar softens the paint and scrape it off with a scraper or a brush.

Borax and Ammonia

If you happen to have borax in the house, it can be very useful in removing paint and stains from the wall. This recipe requires you to add a cup of borax or sodium borate with two cups of water. With the solution, add a cup of ammonia and washing soda each.

Mix them thoroughly to have a creamy paste. Brush over the paint with this paste and let it soak for 20 minutes. With the help of a brush, rinse the wall.

How to Remove Paint from Walls Without Chemicals?

How do you get dried paint off walls that are very old and flaking in many places? Well, there are many different ways invented by curious minds of humans, and honestly, you could invent your own way too if you give it some thought.

For most people, paint removing materials are already present in their home; only they aren’t aware of it. Most of the ways to remove paint from walls don’t involve any paint remover or chemicals. Only you gotta use some manual labor and lots of patience.

Washing Soda and Flour

You can easily remove paint even with the help of washing soda and vinegar. Into a cup of cold water, pour four teaspoons of washing soda. Mix them thoroughly and keep adding flour to the solution until it becomes a thick paste-like substance.

With the help of a brush, scrub the cream on the paint and let it rest for half an hour. You’ll notice the paint has softened, and with a scraper, you easily clean the walls.

Besides, if you have a putty knife or a scraping knife in the house, the task becomes a lot easier.

Heat Gun to Remove Paint from Plaster

A heat gun is a very useful tool to make some manual tasks easier in a short period of time. Interestingly, this tool can also be used in acrylic arts and crafts. It produces such heat that it can potentially reach up to 1000 Fahrenheit.

This high heat causes the paint on the walls to melt slightly. 

Removing paint from drywall with a heat gun is especially useful when there are multiple layers of paint on the wall. Since applying a heat gun could be potentially dangerous if you’re not careful, reviewing some of the basic steps of using it is important.

Step 1: Preparation

Take all the precautions regarding safety measures like wearing a thick pair of gloves, protective eyeglasses, and a thick long-sleeved shirt. It is also important to remove all potentially flammable surfaces and materials out of their working way.

Also, before applying the heat on the wall, put a drop cloth beneath the working area since scraping the paint that has fallen on the floor could prove to be difficult.

Step 2: Applying Heat through Heating Gun

Direct your heating gun to the location where you want to remove the paint keeping the nozzle a few inches away from the wall. In a wide sweeping motion, steadily apply the heat till the paint visibly begins to loosen.

Step 3: Scraping Away the Loosened Paint

You’ll notice the paint forming bubbles as its hold on the surface beneath it loosens. With the help of a paint scraper or a putty knife, scrape away all the loosened paint from that section. It helps to scrape upwards as if shoveling snow.

Step 4: Final Task

Repeat the process all over the area you want to remove the paint from. Once the wall is clean, finish with a mineral spirit wash. But make sure to completely cool the area before doing this.

How to Get Paint off Wallpaper

You’ll find in many old houses a layer of painting over wallpaper, maybe because the previous owner found it difficult to clean the entire wall. In that case, it is not practical or economical to remove paint from the entire wall.

However, sometimes you’ll get accidental paint splattered over the wallpaper while repainting the ceiling. Besides, having children at home with unbridled self-expression often leads to their “works of art” and doodles on the wallpaper.

In such scenarios, removing paint splatter from walls is quite easier. There are some easy ways with which you can remove those paint off wallpapers.

1. Removing Fresh Paint

If the paint splattered on the wallpaper is still fresh, you can just wipe it off with a damp rag. However, some wallpapers might get damaged if you dampen them with too much water. So, to be on the safe side, try to dab the area where there is fresh paint with a towel wet with warm water. Do not rub or press too hard. If you are lucky, that paint will easily disappear.

2. Removing Dried Paint

If the paint has dried, try to clean the surface with a damp sponge to get the paint wet. Sometimes this will be enough to remove that paint.

However, if it doesn’t work, apply a liberal amount of isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol on a piece of cotton ball and heavily dampen that affected area. After a few minutes or so, the paint should lift off if you dab it with a damp sponge.

Final Words

While chemicals do a good job at removing paint from a surface, some are highly toxic to humans and the environment. Therefore, when the questions arise, “how to remove paint from walls – with & without chemicals?”, both should come into the discussion.

We hope we’ve covered both aspects to provide you with a wider range of solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I remove old paint before repainting?

Answer: Removing old paint is an absolute necessity before repainting the wall. With time, air bubbles can form under the paint layer, making its adhesiveness weak. Besides, any dampness & efflorescence present in the wall needs to be treated as well before repainting.

2. Can you use paint remover on drywall?

Answer: Paint remover or paint stripper is a tough chemical that can affect and damage drywall. If the number of paint layers on the wall is fewer than three, you shouldn’t use paint remover on it.

3. Can acrylic paint be removed?

Answer: To remove acrylic paint off the walls, first, try to remove the excess paint with a wet cloth. You can also scrape this paint with a putty knife or a plastic scraper. Sanding the wall also works quite fine. If these methods don’t work, then dip a brush in vinegar and brush the paint with it. Besides, applying vegetable oil, alcohol, or Blue Dawn Liquid works great too.

4. What sander is best for removing paint?

Answer: There are numerous sander types on the market. But using Makita, Dewalt, and Bosch’s sanders are said to have provided the best results.

5. What grit size and type of sandpaper is best for removing wall paint?

Answer: Sanding drywall with sandpaper should start with lower-level grits at first. You could choose between 80- to 150-grit sandpaper with moderate pressure to remove wall paint.

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