Peeling paint on bare plaster

Do you get those days when an idea springs into your head – and the idea works? It’s been that kind of day.

See, when I stripped off the hideous wallpaper on the “feature” (ack! ack! ack! ack!) wall in the bedroom, I was left with great big splotches of paint on the bare plaster underneath, the rest of the paint having come off with the wallpaper. Once the paint dried, it started peeling, and we’re talking about a large wall. Gah! How to get all the paint off!

Well I tried everything I could think of. Sandpaper, gloop,  paint scraper, even a tentative go with my little electric sander. None of them were satisfactory. Dust, the risk of damaging the surface of the plaster, getting the plaster damp, not to mention the mess. Plus the new edges kept drying out and peeling too, so I was achieving nothing very fast. So I left it for a while, in the hope that an idea would go off like a lightbulb and save the day.

Well it did. And it did.

Masking tape.

If you work backwards, the reason the paint came off was because it was stuck to the back of the wallpaper. So why use a different method when the answer is right there in front of one’s nose.

Paper masking tape, the cheapest you can get, which is what I’ve got, does the trick. Mine’s only 3/4″ wide but I shall use what I’ve got rather than buying anything wider.

The plan of attack needs adjustment from time to time, but here’s what works for me. Unroll about 12 inches of tape, and apply to the edge of one of the areas of peeling paint, at an angle of about 30 degrees. Straight up and down doesn’t tend to work.. Smooth firmly along the tape for best adherence, then peel away. Ta-da. Paint stuck to the tape, and bare, smooth, paint-free plaster. Rejoice! You don’t need to tear off bits of tape, either. Just keep unrolling the tape and apply the next bit to the wall. You can use the gaps along the tape to pick up any stray flakes and stubborn bits of paint. You’ll probably need to experiment with whether you pull down or up or leave it for about 15 seconds before peeling it off. Just go with the flow.

Don’t bother trying to use heat on it, though, like a hairdryer. Just use the tape on the paint and the heat from your fingers to smooth it down firmly. Otherwise, as I found, the peel-off isn’t as efficient.

I’ve just done about a square metre of wall in half an hour. Yeah it’s not fast. But neither is sanding, glooping, scraping or anything else, and I have no mess. Zero. My wall isn’t damp, I haven’t accidentally dug into the wall with a sharp edge and there is no dust or dried paint. Result!

Plus, I guess the good result will depend on the kind of paint underneath. This won’t work on paint on wood or anything else of course – this was a thin layer of what seemed like a latex-based paint on a bare plaster wall. But, I am closer to realising my interior design bedroom-fest, and I am bristling with ideas.

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About Sooz

Writer and cheapskate View all posts by Sooz

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