How To Remove Emulsion Paint

Emulsion paint is water-based paint that’s primarily used indoors on walls and ceilings. If you’re looking for a change in scenery, you’re likely wondering how to remove emulsion paint. Luckily, those of us at DreamyHome have been doing this for a while. Let’s get you sorted and help repaint the house, yeah?

The best way to remove wet emulsion paint is with soap and water. Dry emulsion paint needs paint remover (or our DIY solution) to remove.

This isn’t going to be a long one, so let’s get right into it, shall we?

How to Remove Emulsion Paint, Wet or Dry

First things first, this is going to be a messy job that needs to be done in a well-ventilated environment. Even if you spring for non-toxic paint remover (which you definitely should), you’re likely to get lightheaded from the fumes coming off the paint. Before you get started, you’ll need the following:

  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Indoor safe (non-toxic) paint remover
    • Vinegar also works here, but we’ll get to that. If you’re using vinegar, you’ll want at least 3 litres of white vinegar.
  • Plastic sheeting or newspaper to catch drips
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint brush
  • Paint scraper
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Fan
  • Sacrificial clothes (or normal clothes if you’re feeling brave)

Now that you’ve gathered all that you need, let’s get into how to remove emulsion paint.

The Process

Step 1

Begin by preparing the area you want to work in. Throw down your protective covering for the floor and put on your protective gear. Open the windows and have a fan running to help keep the room well-ventilated.

Step 2

Wet a paintbrush in your paint remover. Apply the solution in a thick layer, one section at a time. Be sure to work from top to bottom on anything you’re working on, as it will drip. Allow it to sit for at least thirty minutes – read the remover’s label to see how long to let it sit.

Alternatively, you can boil some white vinegar and then brush it on (still warm) as a paint softener. This is better if you have pets or children that you won’t be able to ensure stay out of the room.

Step 3

Keeping your paint scraper’s blade as flat as possible (no more than a 45-degree angle), get it under the paint. Scrape from top to bottom, or bottom to top – it doesn’t really matter, just go in with a plan. Remove the paint in strips until the wall is clean as possible.

You’re doing your best to avoid damaging the material beneath the paint, so it’s vital that you’re not stabbing at the paint. You’re trying to gently scrape it off the wall.

Step 4

Dip your sponge in some warm water and gently wipe down the surface. You’ll remove the little bits of paint you couldn’t get and get any residue that’s left off as well.

Be sure to look at your paint remover’s label, as some removers (but not all) need you to use soapy warm water.

Step 5

As with all home renovation projects, the worst part of this is going to be the cleanup. You (in most places) cannot simply toss the paint in the trash. It is likely toxic and/or flammable, so avoid smoking and open flames near the paint.

Contact your city’s household hazardous waste department. Most cities have a specific manner in which you need to dispose of things like paint, and will fine you if you don’t.

Final Thoughts

Removing emulsion paint is a surprisingly easy task in terms of how complicated the steps are. The main pain comes in the actual removal process, and worse, the cleanup. As long as you have a paint scraper, a sponge, and protective gear (for yourself and your home), you’re all set to get a new paint job started. You can use either paint remover or boiled vinegar to remove paint, and will just need to scrape and scrub!

Be sure to properly dispose of the stripped paint and act with caution around it. Do not smoke or keep it near heat sources or open flames, and dispose of it promptly. Not only is a pile of paint bits a bad look for your home, but it’s dangerous if you have children or pets that might get ahold of it.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.