How to Remove Gloss from Walls


One of the quickest ways to modernize a room is to give it a new coat of paint. Painting walls is something most people can take on themselves, plus new paint is inexpensive (you can easily update a room for $100), and you get your new look almost instantaneously (you can paint a room from start to finish in less than 2 days). However, if you are trying to paint over glossy paint you will need to do some up front preparation. Here's what to do.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint Scrapers or wide bladed putty knife
  • TSP
  • Liquid deglosser (optional)
  • Gel chemical paint strippers
  • Work gloves and eye protection
  • Heat gun
  • Drop cloths and plastic sheets
  • Sandpaper

Removing Gloss From Walls

  • Removing paint from walls or woodwork can be done in a number of ways. Chemical strippers, heat guns and scrapers, or sanding are all options

  • Regardless of the method you choose, move your furniture out of the room (or into the center of the room and cover it with drop cloths). Lay down drop cloths on the floor at the base of the walls, and remove all switch plate and outlet covers.

Using a Heat Gun

  • A heat gun is probably the best choice for removing gloss paint from large areas, or if you are removing a number of layers of paint

  • Wait until the gun is hot and then play the heat over a section (about a square foot) until the paint bubbles.

  • Using a wide blade putty knife held at a low angle, slide the blade under the softened paint and peel it off the wall.

  • Continue the process, heating and scraping sections at a time until you have removed the glossy paint from the entire wall.

  • Work carefully. It's easy to gouges the wall with the edge of your putty knife.

Using Chemical Strippers

  • Chemical strippers are a better choice when you are removing paint from a small area. Be sure you put thick plastic sheets (6 mil) down on the floor before you apply the chemical stripper so your floor will be protected.

  • Use a gel stripper, since it will stick to the wall better than a liquid.

  • Apply the chemical stripper following manufacturer's directions. Allow the stripper time to do its job (again read the directions). When the stripper has softened the paint, use a wide bladed scraper held at a low angle and scrape the paint off the wall. You will likely need to wash the walls with a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water to remove all traces of the chemical stripper.

  • Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when using chemical strippers


  • Sanding will remove the gloss from the walls and provide a "tooth" for new paint to adhere to the old. However, if you want to remove all the paint rather than repaint, use a heat gun or chemical stripper. Sanding would be too time consuming.

  • Use a medium grit sandpaper (about 150). Sand the walls from top to bottom.

  • Wash the walls with a TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water to remove all the sanding dust, and let the wall dry.

  • Finally, rinse the wall with clear water to remove any traces of the TSP and again let the wall dry.

  • Now you're ready to paint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear gloves when working with the heat gun or chemical strippers.
  • An alternative product called liquid deglosser (liquid sandpaper) might be easier to use than regular sandpaper. Just daub it on and let it set in.
  • If your home was built before 1980, the glossy paint you are removing may contain lead. Contact the National Safety Council's Lead Information Center at (800) LEADFYI to find out how to deal with it.

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