You may want to strip paint from a basement wall because it's cracked and peeling, or because you just want to redecorate the space. Most basement walls are made of poured concrete or concrete blocks. The methods for removing paint from them, however, are the same.
Scrub your walls down with a solution of soap and water. Use a synthetic scrubber with a scratch surface to loosen any remaining bits of flaking and bubbled paint. Do not use steel wool, which may leave fibers behind. Rub down the walls with a clean, dry cloth when you're finished scrubbing, and while the wall is still wet. Allow it to fully dry. Vacuum the walls with a brush attachment.
Apply a soy-based gel stripper, which will get the job done without harming you or the environment, per manufacturer's instructions. Some examples of soy-based strippers are Peel-Away and Radonseal. Chemical strippers such as muriatic acid and trisodium phosphate do a good job of removing paint, but both of these products are extremely hazardous. Fumes from these chemicals are a big consideration in basement areas, where getting good ventilation could be difficult. If your basement walls are covered in painted drywall, follow manufacturer's instructions for this type of surface.
After you have removed the thick coating of gel stripper from the concrete, survey the results. If there are remaining bits of paint in the tiny concrete holes, go back in with a metal hand brush and scrub them out. For stubborn areas, apply a second coat of gel.
If some painted areas are especially stubborn, or if you dislike the idea of gel strippers and other chemicals, consider sandblasting. You can rent sandblasters at home improvement and hardware stores. Sandblasting is very effective at removing paint from concrete surfaces; however, the amount of dust it generates will require you to cover everything fully with drop cloths.
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