I have purchased a house and it seems that the previous occupiers used incredibly cheap paint which is just peeling off and bitty, almost the texture of dry PVA glue.

It has been suggested that I sand the walls, but I'm not sure if that is the best option.

What I want to know is the suggested method to be able to paint over it, and if it is sanding then how can I do large areas quickly?

  • Have you tried hitting it with a scraper? That'd be my pick. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 4:51
  • My vote is also for a scraper and paint remover where necessary. Sanding is going to aerosolize a lot of lead-containing paint. I would avoid sanding at all costs, or if you have to sand, wear proper respiration equipment. Not sure if lead abatement is similar to asbestos.
    – BillDOe
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 5:15
  • The paint is 15 years old, but I am not sure when they stopped using lead based paints.
    – Terry
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 12:14
  • Whatever you decide, do yourself a huge favor and start repainting with a coat of high-quality primer!
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 13:29
  • If the house was build post-1980 in the US, then the odds of it having lead paint is pretty small...though obviously test if concerned.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Lead paint was banned for residential use in 1978 in the United States and as late as 1992 in the UK, so any house that was painted previous to that date could be lead-based. If sand it becomes a dangerous air born particulate. If inhaled and absorbed into the blood stream.... Well, we all know it's bad for you. If you are unsure there are test kits for lead in paint: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Lead+paint+

After donning protective gear (respirator [filtered type], disposable suit, etc.) scrape as much of the offending paint from the wall as possible. Use a wide head scraper with a handle above the scraper head which will enable more force to be exerted onto the sharpened steel thusly removing more paint faster. Try to use sanding as a final, desperate act. If you do need to sand you will need to make safety accommodations for the dust: plastic tarps to enclose the area, window fans to exhaust wayward dust, vacuums attached to sander exhaust ports. And the tedious clean-up of the surrounding surfaces when sanding is done for the day. Place all paint chips and any disposable gear in a plastic bag and tape it closed. Bring it to a local hazardous waste collection site.

Wash the newly exposed walls with a solution of TSP and warm water. Once the freshly washed walls have dried sand with 80-100 grit paper, wipe the walls with a damp rag. Prime and paint as usual.

  • The house is 15 years old and in the UK.
    – Terry
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 15:17

I have had some pretty good luck in small rooms with paint stripper. It is messy but it keeps all of the paint in a form that can be disposed of easier and doesn't go everywhere in the rest of the house like sanding does.

After scraping as much loose paint as possible try the paint stripper on a small area at a time. It may take more than one application to remove all paint to the base material surface.

If you have ever sanded drywall mud and see how it goes everywhere then you know the problem of dust containment. I try to avoid sanding as much as possible.

Good luck with your project!

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