A few years ago we painted some drywall without priming it. Currently we are redoing the room with different colors. I am a novice painter so I put masking tape on that wall to have a clean Edge on the adjacent wall. When I pulled the tape off a lot of that paint on unprimed drywall came off. Are there any options besides removing all of the old paint? I have scraped some of it and got it to a point where it's on a little better. It seems to be the worst at top of wall.

Additionally, as I scrape the paint off the drywall have noticed that the drywall seems to be powdery. The guy that did the drywall is extremely anal about dust so I don't think it's from when it was originally done. Soft maybe a better way to describe it. My scraper easily digs into the drywall.

  • What kind of masking tape are you using? Even with the dodgiest underlying paint job, high quality painter's masking tape shouldn't be peeling paint off. Also, do you have really high humidity or moisture problems? Priming drywall is actually more useful as a moisture barrier of sorts - the powder on the drywall could be mineral efflorescence.
    – Comintern
    Sep 4, 2016 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


I paint a lot. Paint laid over paint that's falling off is going to fall off.

You shouldn't be getting any powder at all off the drywall. Are you quite sure that in your haste to remove bad paint, you haven't torn off the drywall's paper skin? If so you've got a bigger problem.

You might want to bring in an expert to give a basic consultation, simply to shut up the wife.

So many latex paints tout themselves as being "paint+primer" that I have an uneasy feeling something more is going on here, like water damage. The expert will help you spot that.

If everything is simpatico with the wall, and you somehow bought the worst paint on the planet, everything that can come off needs to. (Or it will later). Yes, I know the tedium of which I speak. Use whatever method does this most efficiently.

And then take the time to learn how the art of proper prep. You will find the learning process, while annoying for those who thought they were finished learning when they graduated college... is less annoying than stripping a failed coating.


Paint that has not properly adhered to the surface below could definitely peel off with the slightest touch. Depending on conditions, any masking tape might cause this; however I would suggest using high quality painter's masking tape to minimize the chances.

The soft material you have encountered under the peeling paint is the drywall joint compound used to cover edges, corners, and joints when drywall is installed.

I am afraid that you are in a tough spot now that it has begun to peel. You need to make sure the paint that is most unstable is removed, or it is likely to peel off in the future, including when you repaint the wall. Then you will need to:

  • sand the areas where sound paint meets substrate until the interface is smooth, then prime and repaint.


  • use a wide trowel/mud knife to apply one or more coats of drywall finishing mud (sometimes called topping compound) to the peeled area, sanding after each coat, until the wall is smooth and free of visible imperfections. Then prime and repaint.

I have had this issue before, usually I didn't prime the corner area well enough, and the drywall tape ends up being pulled up a bit, just the top layer, when im pulling off the blue painters tape. Best fix is to sand the area, apply some joint compound, let dry for a day or two, sand to feather it in, repeat as necessary. Then prime and paint to match. Quite a pain and due solely to not doing it right the first time.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Oct 7, 2019 at 6:45

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