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The basement in our 1979-era house has cinderblock walls. These walls have a tacky (DryLok perhaps? It's not efflorescence) coating on their surface that looks like a heavy, thick paint. On top of that coating, 2 layers of latex paint (different colors).

In many places it's possible to pull off large strips of the paint & white stuff right off the wall where it has bubbled away from the block. In other places the latex paint comes off with a paint scraper, but not nearly as easily. Peeling does not always remove the pasty white layer. Scraping it works but is very hard work, and even then a wire brush is needed to remove it all (and even then it's not down to the surface). A heat gun just turns the white stuff to goo.

My question: is there a way to remove everything down to the bare wall without sandblasting? I don't think I want to paint it again, just get it so it's not so abandoned warehouse/urban decay looking. Our basement is as big as our house (2,000 sf); I don't want solutions involving 50 cans of stripper (we have to live above it all while we're doing this).

To anticipate your other reply - yes we've addressed the outside moisture infiltration issue as much as we can - french drains, gutter downspouts away from the house, window well covers etc. but I would not count on them being perfect. We live in an area where the ground is solid clay, and when it rains here in the winters, the ground stays wet for months. In any case, we don't plan to paint it again anyway.

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    A wire brush wheel on a drill would help with the brushing, but sand blasting is still likely the only effective way to get it down to the blocks. Whether you scrape, brush or blast, use good breathing protection since old paint is likely to contain lead, and may even contain asbestos (which may require more care to keep fibers from spreading throughout your house). – Johnny Aug 4 '15 at 18:29
  • Some paints come off when heated – Dan Aug 5 '15 at 9:19

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