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How to Remove Drywall Mud from a Wall [5 Best Methods]

You can remove unpainted drywall mud by scrubbing it with warm water and a cloth. Joint compound is water-soluble and will easily come off when you add some water to the equation. If water is not sufficient, you can scrape hardened drywall mud off of drywall with a putty knife or scraper. If there is a coat of paint over the drywall mud, use a sander to cut through the paint and sand away the drywall mud. Alternatively, you can use a paint remover to dissolve the paint before removing the drywall mud with another method.

How to remove drywall mud from a wall

How Do You Dissolve Drywall Mud?

Dried drywall mud breaks down in water. Unlike a painted surface, drywall mud does not shed water. Instead, water soaks into the drywall mud, dissolves the glue-like bond of the hardened mud, and makes it easy to clean drywall mud off walls, floors, and other hard surfaces.

  • Hardened drywall mud softens when exposed to water.
  • There is no need to use harsh chemicals when attempting to dissolve drywall mud.

Plain, warm water works best for dissolving hardened joint compound. It’s not necessary to use any harsh solvents or chemicals. This makes breaking down hardened drywall mud simple and safe.

5 Ways to Remove Drywall Mud From a Wall

Whether you’re unhappy with the look of the drywall mud on your wall before or after painting, there’s a way to remove it. The methods here work well for removing drywall mud splatters, as well as wall texture. No matter how much drywall mud you’re looking to remove, one of these tips will do the trick.

Scrub it Off with Water

If there is no paint on the hardened joint compound you wish to remove, get rid of it using water and a little elbow grease. Use a bucket of warm water and a damp cloth to scrub drywall mud off your wall. When tackling larger blobs of drywall mud, allow the water to soak in for a few minutes to allow it time to break down the mud.

  • Scrub hardened drywall mud off walls with a cloth soaked in warm water.
  • Apply water to the hardened drywall mud and wait 3–5 minutes for the water to soften the mud. Then, scrub.
  • Use this method on unpainted drywall mud only.

This method only works on unpainted drywall compound. If your wall has been painted, the water won’t penetrate and break down the drywall mud.

Use a Scraper

Dried drywall mud can be removed from your walls using a scraper or drywall knife. Use the scraper blade to bust through the hardened joint compound and scrape your walls down to a smooth finish. If any drywall paper on your wall is damaged during this process, it can be patched using additional joint compound before repainting.

  • Use this scraper to remove drywall mud from your walls.
  • This method works best when the mud has not been painted.
  • Combine the scraper method with the tactic of soaking dried joint compound with water. The job will go even faster.

If you are scraping unpainted drywall mud off your walls, you can create a hybrid method for easy removal. First, soak dried drywall mud with warm water for 3–5 minutes. Then, use the scraper to pry the softened drywall mud off your wall more easily.

Prevent Wall Damage During Scraping

Scraping large chunks of dried joint compound from your walls runs the risk of drywall paper peeling away along with the joint compound. If scraping is causing ragged tears in your drywall paper, follow these steps:

  • Use a utility knife to cut through the drywall paper around the circumference of the dried joint compound.
  • Be careful to cut through the paper layer only. Do not cut so deeply that you slice through your drywall.
  • After cutting, use your scraper to peel off the joint compound and paper together.
  • Once the drywall has been removed, patch the drywall with a skim-coating of joint compound.

This method works well when scraping large chunks of drywall mud off unpainted walls. It allows you to control the amount of damage done to your drywall paper, leading to a very simple fix.

Sand Painted Drywall Mud

If you wish to remove hardened drywall mud that has been covered with a coat of paint, it’s best to use an electric sander to do the job. Techniques that involve the use of water or scrapers perform poorly when tackling painted drywall. Whether you’re just fixing one lumpy painted area or an entire textured wall, you’ll have to sand through the paint and drywall mud until you achieve smooth walls.

  • Use this orbital sander to remove drywall mud from painted walls.
  • Sand through the paint and drywall mud to remove it.
  • Begin with a coarse sandpaper for removal—such as 80 or 100-grit.
  • After initial paint removal, switch to a finer sandpaper, such as 120-grit.
  • Always wear an NIOSH/MSHA-approved mask when sanding drywall or cleaning drywall dust.
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Sanding paint and drywall produces a lot of fine dust that is dangerous if inhaled. Wear a particulate-blocking mask as well as close-fitting goggles when sanding drywall. Once your work is done, all you need to do is clean that drywall dust off your walls and floors.

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Try Latex Paint Remover

If you wish to avoid the mess of sanding drywall and cleaning afterward, you can remove latex paint from drywall mud with a commercial paint remover. These products break down latex paint so you can easily scrape it off your walls. Then, you can use one of the previous tips on this list to remove drywall mud.

  • Avoid sanding by using this latex paint remover to strip paint from your walls.
  • After latex paint has been removed, use water, scraping, or sanding to remove the exposed drywall mud.
  • If you are not sure if your walls are painted with latex or another type of paint, use the sanding method.

Follow all manufacturer instructions for safe and proper use of paint remover. When used correctly, it can save you the hassle of sanding an entire wall to remove the texture. Instead, you can strip off the paint and scrape the wall to a smooth finish before applying a pristine new skim coat.

How Do You Remove Joint Compound From Walls?

To get rid of dried joint compound that is ruining the appearance of your walls, you can use one of the following methods:

  • Scrub unpainted joint compound with a cloth soaked in warm water.
  • Scrape dried joint compound off the walls.
  • If your drywall paper is prone to tearing off in strips during scraping, carefully slice through the paper around the hardened drywall mud prior to scraping.
  • Use an electric sander to remove drywall mud that has been painted.
  • Strip latex paint off the wall with a paint remover. Then, remove joint compound with water, scraping, or sanding.

Each of these methods is relatively simple and can be performed by a beginning DIYer. You can tackle drywall mud removal yourself, paving the way for pristine walls in your home.

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