How To Remove Old Paint From Walls

Remove old paint from walls before the paint warps and can’t be removed at the same time.

For walls in homes, you want to protect the paint’s luster with a coating. For walls on commercial property or in multi-unit buildings, you might want to consider sanding to smooth out the rough edges. The paint on the walls inside that structure needs to remain fresh in order to withstand years of use and abuse.

To prepare a surface for sand, I recommend using a wire brush and a soft-body sandpaper. I used a 50 grit sand and a 10 micron sanding disc. Once you’re done the sanding, use a fine-grit soft-body sandpaper like Wüsthof or Fine Guard to buff the surface clean with a buffing cloth.

It’s fine that the walls will be clean to the touch. If you want more resistance, try an abrasive drywall compound that leaves the surface with less texture and a rough, reflective top surface.

To give the walls a little more shine, I used Dremel sanding discs with sanding sticks. Once a rough finish is achieved, a light dusting of fine paint remover should be added to finish out any irregularities.

Wear gloves and a lab coat when sanding paint. Dust masks and respirators are probably necessary for this step for anyone who’s been exposed with respiratory or eye problems. Sanding paint can also be potentially very dangerous and even result in eye and respiratory infection.

Apply spray paint to the first row of surfaces of the wall, starting at an angle that’s 3 to 4 inches from each corner.

It might take up to an hour to work your way across the entire wall, so plan accordingly.

Once the paint is dried, use a drywall brush to smooth out the areas you haven’t sanded yet. Work the paint evenly and evenly across the whole surface. This can be a tedious operation but there’s nothing like the feel of a freshly painted kitchen counter, bathroom or staircase.

Here are some photos I took earlier during my painting process. When I’m not painting, I can sometimes be found doing my job from the bed.

Step 11: Sanding, Painting and Finishing the Walls

Once the paint is fully dry, you can begin working on the sanding and polishing. The sanding disc on my Dremel works well for small areas:

To work from the side of the wall, you’ll probably want to work with the sand disc on the far side of the wall first. Once both areas are sanded, use the same sanding disc on the opposite side of the wall. Continue working the sand disc around to smooth out the rough edges until you reach the center of the wall.

If your whole wall seems to be sticking, you’ll need to use a sanding disc with flat sides for easier work. Start with the side of the wall furthest away from each brick. Once your first row of the wall is covered with clean, buffed paint, start working on the other side of the wall.

Once the wall is smooth along its entire perimeter, the sanding disc is most effective for removing any remaining scratches or dents. If you notice any areas where the paint is still very thin, try using a finer brush for even, more even painting. If you do use a smaller paint brush, use a fine-grit soft-body sanding brush.

The last step of the painting process is to apply a coating of a color that matches the wall color.