I first stripped the wallpaper from my bedroom walls using a steam stripper and scraper. This revealed a lurid pink paint on the walls and a peculiar purple ceiling paint which came off in sheets like vinyl. The ceiling is now stripped revealing a blue paint which I intend to leave on and give a light sanding. The pink wall paint comes off like Mozarella cheese after the steamer has been held over it for a little while. It's painfully slow progress and I don't know whether to continue stripping it. I have considered buying a hot air gun to use instead of the steamer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    Why is it necessary to strip the paint first?
    – Steven
    Jul 22, 2012 at 19:39
  • 4
    Did you test the old paint for lead? Stripping pre 1978 paint can be risky if it contains lead. Get a test kit and know for sure. If lead is present, a new plan should be made. Way too much info to put into a comment if lead remediation is necessary. Jul 23, 2012 at 10:42
  • 1
    Sledghammer! Bust all the plaster (and lath) off the wall, then hang new sheets of drywall.
    – Tester101
    Jul 23, 2012 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


The two standard ways to strip paint is heat or chemicals. Both are labor intensive and messy, and chemicals are caustic. I assume you are planning to strip the paint only because you are left with an uneven surface after it was already partly removed? Otherwise, just paint over it right?

It might be easier to lightly scrape to remove loose paint, then skim coat the whole surface with finishing plaster. Some light sanding afterwards, and you're ready for prime coat.

  • 4
    Skim coating old walls is a lot of work and requires a bit of practice, but is a great method of smoothing and reviving old rough walls. Jul 23, 2012 at 10:45
  • It's a lot of work for an amateur, but skim coats are one of the few jobs where it's worth getting in an expert. A good plasterer can do a large room, and ceiling, in a few hours. Jul 23, 2012 at 18:02

One approach that avoids the labor of scraping and sanding, as well as eliminating the lead issue, is the application of thin wallboard screwed directly over the existing ceiling and walls. While taping and filling joints and screw holes requires some effort, it is much less, and requires less skill, than skim coating.

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