distemper paint

Distemper Paint – How to Remove it in 2022 (Complete DIY Guide) – UK Edition

Chances are, if you live in an older home built before the 20th century, you have distemper paint on the walls. It’s an annoyance as it can be difficult to remove and nothing sticks to a wall with distemper paint.

If you want to remove your distemper paint, continue reading to find out what it is and how to properly remove it from your walls.


What is Distemper Paint?

Distemper paint is a mixture of glue and whiting (chalk or lime) widely used in the past to paint and seal walls. It was the preferred method historically because when it dried, it tightened up and would fill any small holes or cracks in the walls and ceilings.

To create distemper paint, whiting is combined with glue to form a thick sludge mixture. It’s soft and chalky to the touch, and if you run your hand along the wall, the paint will leave traces of dust on your hand.

Most people remove distemper paint because nothing will stick to it when they want to repaint or decorate.


How to Remove Distemper Paint

removing distemper from wall

Removing the distemper paint off your walls may prove difficult at first. However, if you’re looking to give your home a more modern look with a fresh coat of paint or wallpaper, you’ll need to completely remove all of the distemper paint.

Follow the steps outlined below to properly remove distemper paint from your walls.

1. Prepare the Work Area

Stripping distemper paint can get very messy. Lay down some canvas drop cloths and cover any nearby furniture. Wear old clothes as they will likely get covered in paint residue.

For a complete set of tips on painting preparation, check out our article on How To Paint With No Mess.

2. Wear your Proper PPE

Before stripping distemper paint from the walls, wear gloves and safety glasses as you will be using harmful chemicals.

3. Chip and Brush Away all Loose Paint

Start by chipping away loose paint on the wall and sanding down any peeling spots. Brush away all remaining dust and debris from the wall.

4. Strip the Distemper Paint

It’s now time to strip the distemper paint. For best results, you can apply a paint remover to the wall, such as Peelaway 7.

DIY Doctor recommends using wallpaper paste to wet the distemper paint and easily strip it off the walls.

5. Scrape off Remaining Paint

The distemper paint should now be soft and easy to strip off the walls. For the best results, use a paint scraper and slowly scrape off all remaining paint.

6. Apply a Stabilising Primer

Now that the remaining distemper paint has been stripped off, DIY Extra UK recommends applying a stabilising primer to the wall immediately. This will help seal the wall and ensure the finished coat of paint applies smoothly and sticks well.

7. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint or Wallpaper

After the primer dries, you’re ready to give the wall a fresh coat of paint or apply wallpaper to the walls. For decorating help, check out our painting & decorating guides.


Distemper Paint – Final Thoughts

Although removing distemper paint can be a difficult and time-consuming experience, it’s well worth removing it once and for all.

To learn more about removing standard paint from wood and other materials, check out our complete guide to paint stripping.