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buzzkillb 10-18-2012 04:54 AM

Removing Textured Paint from Plaster Walls?
We just closed on our house finally. And I figured out that the previous owners had painted the plaster walls with textured paint. The garage has new drywall inside and has the same texture throughout.

Is there a way to get the walls back to the original probably smooth texture? The house was built in 1939. My Realtor mentioned taking a few days and sanding the walls down. Does that sound right?

ddawg16 10-18-2012 06:07 AM

yep.....that is about it......

You will most likely have paint on top of that texture....if you want it smooth....80 grit sand paper....

Go get a drywall's basically a pad on a broom stick....uses 1/2 sheet of paper...

While your a shop's going to be messy.

Brushjockey 10-18-2012 06:22 AM

Being that it's painted, I won't sand hardly at all. Will need to be skimmed smooth, then sanded. Not an easy DIY project. Find a good mud guy.

buzzkillb 10-18-2012 06:51 AM


Originally Posted by Brushjockey (Post 1033158)
Being that it's painted, I won't sand hardly at all. Will need to be skimmed smooth, then sanded. Not an easy DIY project. Find a good mud guy.

So even if I had a few days to kill attempting to sand, it would be pointless? I am looking at doing this mainly in the living room and one of the bedrooms.

There is some water damage in the ceiling so we will be having someone come out to give quotes to fix the ceiling in the living room, but I wanted to see what I could do myself so I can compare costs.

I even heard the idea of tearing all the walls out and replacing with drywall which seems extreme. Except we are also replacing the knob and tube wiring through the whole house. 1200 sq. ft. 2 bed 2 bath.

Trying to get more opinions before we have more people out for quotes so I am a little more knowledgeable as to if this is even worth doing.

Gymschu 10-18-2012 08:12 AM

If you're replacing the wiring, now is a great time to put in new drywall. It's so much easier to run wiring without the wallboard on the wallls. Sanding MIGHT work but it's gonna take lots of sandpaper and lots of elbow grease no matter what method you use to sand. Skim coating is the best option if you're gonna leave the wallboard on. It's a messy, time consuming process of rolling on thinned down joint compound, allowing it to dry, sanding, applying another coat or two, and repeating the process til you get the walls smooth again. In the same amount of time, you could have new circuits run, wallboard installed and finished, and primed and painted. Just one man's opinion.

joecaption 10-18-2012 08:32 AM

Also having the wall open you would have access to fire block, air seal, and insulate.
You will be shocked at what your going to find behind those walls.
If you do go with new drywall make sure to pull some string across the studs to just how flat they are and a level to check plumb. Most often there going to need shimming or sistering to end up with a flat wall.

In most cases the whole wall would need to be shimmed so the inside corners and ceiling will meet at the correct level.

user1007 10-18-2012 12:49 PM

I vote to remove the drywall if you are doing electrical anyhow. The labor savings will almost pay for replacing it all. You will have full access to the walls and ceilings for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, insect pre-treatment, etc.

You could try sanding your walls and in this instance Joe is correct that you will need a farily hefty grit paper. The problem is it is going to do some serious scratching and you could do more harm than good if you dig into the drywall. And the paint is likely to clog the paper up instantly so buy in bulk. Make sure to plan and abate for lead if it is an issue.

Skim coating would be a better approach but will take some time. Make sure you invest in a nice wide flexible knife. You might be able to hang a layer of 1/4 over everything but you will have to extend all your boxes, etc.

Brushjockey 10-18-2012 01:39 PM

Removing the drywall also means removing and trying to reuse or replace all the trim.

Basically gutting a room/house down to studs and starting over.

Anyone who thinks that is easier than pulling a few wires . patching and skimming is nuts.

oh- In my opinion of course... lol

chrisn 10-18-2012 05:03 PM

You guys missed the PLASTER walls part I think.
IMO, I would do whatever it takes to keep the original plaster intact.
How, I am not sure withiot being there.

buzzkillb 10-19-2012 08:28 AM

Yes the walls are plaster. I just mentioned that the garage has new drywall with the same textured paint on it, that's why I am pretty sure the plaster walls are painted with that same paint.

We just had another electrician out and there will basically be a new outlet installed around the area of the existing outlet. He has someone who will fix the plaster as there will be a lot of holes put into each room.

So is there a way to remove that textured paint on top of plaster. The main point being I don't mind if it took me a few days to sand the walls down. But if that's not doable then we live with the textured walls.

buzzkillb 10-19-2012 01:50 PM

To answer my own question I decided to take a steamer to the wall and scrape. It comes right off. In fact we were able to start it and pull it right off slowly but surely in large pieces. Its very similar to when you get sun burnt and can peel your skin off a few days later. Very odd I thought, but that takes care of the thought of sanding.

Canarywood1 10-19-2012 03:44 PM


Originally Posted by buzzkillb (Post 1034019)
To answer my own question I decided to take a steamer to the wall and scrape. It comes right off. In fact we were able to start it and pull it right off slowly but surely in large pieces. Its very similar to when you get sun burnt and can peel your skin off a few days later. Very odd I thought, but that takes care of the thought of sanding.

That's the way it was done in the old days,plaster then a kind of canvas layer was put on and then paint,be careful if/when you have to use a scraper as you can dig into the plaster very easy,you'll also have to wash the walls when you get the covering off,and be sure to get all the paste off.

buzzkillb 10-24-2012 03:24 AM

So I tried to use some paint stripper on the walls and it made the paint come off in a different way. We also tried a large steamer and that allows us to peel the textured paint off.

We ended up getting a quote to skim coat the living room and dining room walls and ceilings along with the walls in both bedrooms. The price wasn't too bad. And they said this would include approx 2 weeks to scrape the walls to the plaster, skim coat, prime and paint with Dunn Edwards paint. We will probably go with them as I was rear ended about 6 blocks away from the house today on the way to grab lunch as we were having the sewer lateral prepped for a trenchless repipe. Talk about bad timing.

Next up will be replacing the knob and tube wiring which is the big expense.

I will post the painting and fixing pictures in case anyone is interested to see how the painting and repair process goes. I am told to pass inspections they will be cutting 3 holes per outlet and 2 holes per switch.

ToolSeeker 10-24-2012 08:48 AM

This is interesting just read the whole thread and here are a couple thoughts. This sounds to me like the original plaster and lathe walls especially since there is still knob and tube. Since it was built in 1939 my guess is there is no insulation in the ext. walls. But I see you are in Ca so maybe not that big a deal. But I think that would mean the plumbing is original also but if it ain't broke don't fix it. I want to say tear it out on one hand but on the other what a mess and expense you may not really need to deal with. If you would keep us up on this and what decisions you make and how they turn out.

buzzkillb 10-25-2012 07:19 AM

Thankfully the house doesn't seem to get that cold on a more chilly day and really thankful the house wasn't super hot during the heat wave we recently had. We went to the house many times before closing for inspections. So the idea of keeping the plaster is high on my list of things to try to do. Also the heater and AC work really well and quickly. Our energy costs should be somewhat low in that regard. I understand as if we open the walls that's just a huge can of worms that we do not want to tackle as this is our first house and we have a strict budget.

We got a pretty reasonable quote from a painter today, and the work will start asap on stripping/sanding the walls down to be smooth in the living/dining rooms and both bedrooms. The painter will also be installing 1/4" drywall on the living/dining room ceilings. And then he will be finishing that off with crown molding to make that transition look seamless. Also we will have new base board in the master bedroom. I had no problems stripping the walls down myself as I started to get the rhythm down and I estimated about 50 hours of my time to do so. But after being in the car accident, my body (back, should, and knee) is not up for the job which sucks!

Next up is figuring out the details of replacing the knob and tube wiring. Not sure how to make a signature but if anyone is curious what is going on with renovating this little 1939 house I will be updating our house blog pretty frequently at I was also blogging about the initial house search which was pretty intense. The sewer lateral right now is being replaced as we are getting quotes for everything else the property needs.

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