How to Remove Emulsion Paint

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Emulsion paint, also known as latex or acrylic paint, is a water-based, interior paint with acrylic polymers. It is used mainly on interior walls and ceilings. Removing this paint when it is still wet is very easy--just use soap and water. Removing it after it has dried is more difficult--but not impossible.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old clothes
  • Low odor, indoor-safe paint remover
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Fan
  • Prepare the area by placing a drop cloth on the floor. This job can get messy and products you'll be working with may damage a floor's finish. Put on safety goggles to protect your eyes, rubber gloves to protect your hands, and old clothes you don't care about. Open windows for ventilation.

  • Wet a paint brush in the paint-removing solution. Apply the product thickly, a section at a time. If you are removing paint from a wall, apply at the top first and work your way down.

  • Allow at least 30 minutes (or longer, depending on the product you use) for the paint remover to soften the paint.

  • Place the scraper blade against one corner of the painted surface and push beneath the paint layers. Keep the scraper as flat against the surface as possible--this helps avoid accidentally gouging the material beneath the paint. Pull the paint off in a strip at a time, if possible--the paint should come off easily.

  • Dip a clean sponge in a bucket of water. Wipe down the surface to rinse the paint and remover residue from the wall. Some remover products also suggest using soap. Check the label to make certain other steps aren't required for the product you are using.

  • Remove the discarded paint from the area. Keep windows open and direct a fan on the treated surface to aid drying.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dispose of discarded paint properly; follow directions on the product label or contact your local household hazardous waste department. Some paint removers are flammable. Check the label. If you are using a flammable remover, avoid smoking (and turn off other flame sources, such as pilot lights in the area).

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