Cleaning & Removing Paint from Cornice & Coving

Over time dust, dirt and even nasty cobwebs can build up on cornices making them look dull and dirty. As it’s often high up and therefore tricky to clean, it can often be neglected.  And as coving & cornice are usually painted white – any dirt will be emphasised, if it is not given the proper attention it needs.

To keep your coving and cornice looking immaculate, you should use lukewarm water and a mild detergent to gently sponge down the surface on a regular basis.

Removing Paint from Your Cornice & Coving

When removing old paint from cornice you should be very careful, as some cornice & coving can be delicate, particularly the older it is. A word of warning – if you suspect that your coving or cornice is of high value, then get it evaluated by a professional before you attempt to remove paint, to make sure you know what you are dealing with. Original features of buildings like cornice and decorative coving can be incredibly valuable and therefore will need to be treated with extra care and attention to ensure they are not damaged.

Step by Step Getting Rid of Unwanted Paint from Cornice & Coving

Wipe your cornice or coving with a clean, soft, dry rag to remove any dust and debris that may have built up over time.

Use a paint scraper to remove as much of the paint as possible, apply gentle pressure, working the tip of the paint scraper under the paint. Be careful not to damage the material below.

When you have removed as much paint as possible, use paint stripper to get rid of the rest of the paint. For plaster coving or cornice it’s recommended to use a methylene chloride based remover, as this will not damage the plaster.
Remember to always read the safety instructions first and to wear gloves and a face mask, when dealing with chemicals.  Always avoid any contact with skin or eyes.

Test the paint stripper by applying on a small area first, to ensure that it works as desired and does not damage the material. Leave this for 30 minutes before using the paint scraper to scrape off the paint. This should now come off easily, without any lasting damage to your cornice or coving.

If the test area worked well, apply the paint stripper to the rest of the coving, working in 4 foot sections at a time and remembering to leave the paint stripper on for at least 20-30 minutes before using the paint scraper to remove the rest of the paint.

When you’ve finished removing all of the paint, use a clean rag, dipped in white spirit to wipe away any chemicals. Then use a clean, dry rag to wipe off the white spirit and you’re ready to apply a fresh coat of new paint.

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5 comments for Cleaning & Removing Paint from Cornice & Coving

  • Blair says:

    what paint should i use to paint the old cornice after removing all of the old paint on it?

    • LB says:

      Suggest you don’t paint unless necessary. An irresponsible decorator has just slapped revolting white emulsion over a delicate cornice which I spent 100s of hours renovating, It is criminal damage.

  • David Newton says:

    Several times a small area of coving has caused the emulsion paint to flake off and turn a bit yellow. It has been repainted and after a couple of months the paint flakes again, what can I do ?

  • robin butler says:

    I want to clean my ceiling cornices with a wet brush, and avoid the water dripping down. Is there a special brush with a drip guard?

  • Dean Hutchinson says:

    The idea is to do it right first time. I’d recommend using a water baced acrylic primer before covering with a finish coat of paint such as satin or gloss this will be much more general on your plasterwork and also use good quality products

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