Safely scrape paint off plaster walls? (Danged calcimine!)

cnvhMarch 31, 2006

I've posted here before about our calcimine paint dilemma... well, I'm just about ready to tackle stripping off the surface layer of (already flaking and peeling) paint, then washing/scrubbing off the calcimine layer.

I have a few questions:

1. What's the best way to get off the surface layer of flaking/peeling paint? I'm thinking about using a 3- or 4-inch putty knife, but I don't want to damage the plaster underneath. (We don't have kids and none come to visit, so I'm not too concerned about the lead issue other than meticulously cleaning up afterwards.)

2. Of the whole house, 3 of the painted rooms (study, living room, part of the kitchen) are already flaking/peeling pretty heavily. The other rooms (dining room, all 3 bedrooms) aren't peeling/flaking at all. I assume that calcimine paint was used throughout the house... should I try and strip ALL the rooms before repainting, or only the ones that are peeling already?

3. Once I'm down to the calcimine layer, I've heard/read that I'll need to "wash" the calcimine off. Is there a particular product anyone can recommend for this, and if so, where would it be available?

I can't wait to paint and finally put our own "tastes" into our home, but I don't want to cause a disaster, either!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

A 5 to 6 inch drywall knife will flex better than the smaller sizes.
You should also round off the corners to reduce gouging.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

Also, A 3 inch or 4 inch razor blade scrapper wil lget off any tight spots.
Use a very shallow angle to the surface and buy a lot of spare blades.
You are probably going to end up with some dings, so start in an area behind a door or not very promninent till you get the scraping technique down.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 5:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
housekeeping

Old credit cards work well, too. And good quality (Ateco) flexible or offset icing spatulas also are good, particularly on ceilings. You should also try wide scotch tape. That can peel it nicely and has the benefit of containing the paint layers, as well. I have used 6 inch wide stuff.

If you have one of those European steamer machines, sometimes it's really effective at dropping all the layers, including the calcimine. Ask around, one of your friends may have one you could try out.

The short answer to whether you need to scrape off all your rooms, is probably, yes; just because it hasn't peeled, yet, doesn't mean that the next coat of paint, especially modern emulsions, won't be the layer that breaks the calcimine's bond. If you're just slapping on an emergency "I can't stand this another day" coat, it wouldn't matter. But if you are going to the trouble and expense of a high quality paint and a meticulous job, well, don't waste it over calcimine! Three quarters of the work in painting is the prep and cleaning. The "fun" part is applying the finish coats.

You could scrape off a hidden area in the rooms without evidence of peeling and see if the dreaded calcimine is there. I don't have it in all of my rooms, though most of the ceilings are calcimine.

Even though you have no kids, try not to stomp on the paint leavings, you can contaminate your house for a long time with the ground-up dust. Plus pets are also affected by lead dust and with their smaller body masses and proximity to the floor (not to mention mine eat anything they can find there) they can take a lot of lead dust in. Whenever I have to have blood work done on my pets, I always get a lead level check on them since I live in a crumbling old house.

Have fun!

Molly~

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 5:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

http://www.oldhousejournal.com/magazine/2001/march_april/calcimine/

Here is a link that might be useful: calcimine

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 8:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
katzblood

I'm currently removing wallpaper off of plaster walls in an older home...and in the hussle and bustle of this, forgot to even think about lead paint that might have been lurking under the wallpaper.

How can I tell if there is lead paint or calcimine paint for that matter under the wallpaper? It seemed to just be plaster but it was very dusty and now I'm concerned about cleaning up all that dust.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 3:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

Lead wall paint (lead oxide pigment) would have to be very old.
Most if the lead is lead acetate used in gloss paint.
In older houses with plaster walls wallpaper was typically applied to plaster with only a coat of size on the wall. No paint, no primer.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
boudroe

Has anyone ever thought of or tried covering the ceiling with tiles? I saw some nice copper ceiling tiles that I was considering using rather than going thru this laborious project ( and I have a pregnant wife that i concerned about the dust). Let me know your thoughts PLEASE...wife due in 2 months and just found all this out.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 2:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
saintpfla

I just completed a kitchen project which was layers of painted wallpaper and peeling calcimide painted walls underneath. And, some lead paint thrown in for fun.

I had success with a spray bottle of hot, hot water mixed with a 3 tblspoons of Downey and one tblspoon of Tide. I would heat up the waterbottle in the microwave to keep it very hot.

I used a plastic scrub brush and a mesh sponge to scrub the paper and loose paint off the walls. It would not come off with the chemical remover and even a scraping tool - which is what I tried first.

This worked really well. It is very labor intense, but eliminates the dust issue. It is a messy process but worked great.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

"I had success with a spray bottle of hot, hot water mixed with a 3 tblspoons of Downey and one tblspoon of Tide. I would heat up the waterbottle in the microwave to keep it very hot."

At that point renting a wall paper steamer starts to look like a good option.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
allison1888

You can tell it's lead paint because it gets an alligator-like crackle to it. Try Multi-strip, it's a gel like remover that smells bad, but won't stir up lead dust.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

"You can tell it's lead paint because it gets an alligator-like crackle to it."

Any old alkyd paint can get alligator crackling.
It is NOT an indicator of lead (or lack of lead).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

You can tell it's lead paint because it gets an alligator-like crackle to it."

Latex painetd over existing wall paper paste will have the same effect

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 4:47AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need your ideas for a new-old home,...
We are planning to build a home that appears to be...
ccintx
Scraping wallpaper from ceiling
I've been working hard on wallpaper removal in one...
arlosmom
Radon
Hi. I have never posted in this particular forum before,...
ilovemytrees
Civil War Markers
We know that the house we purchased was built before...
barbcollins
Old-Growth Heart pine paneling -- reused as flooring?
Hi, My new 1939 colonial has a family room and foyer...
dyhgarden
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™