Creative ways to deal with old wall paper!!

10 Replies

Every time I walk into an older home and see wall paper I cringe....

I have spent countless hours spraying and scraping old wall paper, layers upon layers, a long and tedious process that almost seems wasteful of time.

How do people deal with wall paper? Is it best to paint over it? Do you put dry wall up over it? What have you done with wall paper to make your rentals look nice and modern?

I have painted over it (it had been previously painted and I didn't notice at first until I had started). In the end some of the buyers said they were concerned that they could see painted over wallpaper.

Since then I remove it. I have a small steamer, and it doesn't take a huge amount of time. Have you had any quotes to remove it? I cant imagine sheetrock over top is financially worth it.

It is too late at this point, I already removed all of it just with the spray/scrape method but I am definitely investing in a steamer next time...

Some issues I run into are after the wallpaper has been removed and I find horse hair plaster that is not in great condition. Have you run into this as well?

Stupid wallpaper.  I want to impose an idiot tax on anyone who puts it in their house.  J/K.  My mom is the biggest wallpaper lover of anyone and I just don't get it.  I, too, have spent relentless hours scraping wallpaper.  Worse when people have painted over it.  I'm going to invest in a steamer going forward.  I've heard that's the way to go.

@Steve DellaPelle I have only ever had Sheetrock, plaster or more wallpaper after scraping. At least with thewallpaper down you can coat over the wall, assuming it has a solid surface.

I have been doing drywall and plaster for a long time and you guys are right it's a big headache.  It's definitely a case by case basis for us.  Some wallpaper comes right off although there's always something to fix under it.  I bet a steamer would work well and I think there is a tool with spurs on it also.  I have never used either.  I believe we usually just spray with water and scrape with a drywall knife.  We would always be putting an entire coat of drywall mud over top of whatever we ended up with after attempting removal whether it be a thick full texture or sanded smooth.   The important thing is to get any wallpaper that is loose.  Quickest, I would peel/ scrape off what you can without killing yourself.  Use mesh tape with a setting drywall mud to fix any cracks or areas where the paper of the sheetrock has been compromised then coat the whole wall with regular all-purpose or topping compound.  Any places where the remaining wallpaper you left that is not glued well enough will bubble and you can scrape them off the next day and fill them in with more mud.  If you cut through the paper of the sheetrock cutting out these bubbles you should use the setting hot mud with mesh tape before coating with the regular sandable mud.  A couple of the really bad wallpaper jobs possibly over bad old lath and plaster we got off loose wallpaper and put a full layer of dryvit stucco mesh and plastered it.  Way easier but we use pigmented finish plaster so that was it, done. No paint or sanding.  Good luck.  Not sure I helped at all.  Lol.  I feel like I just made the sheetrock information over top of it sound pretty good. :)

I have also removed a great deal of wall paper. I have always used a steamer with good results. Make sure you have plenty of large towels, it creates a lot of water on the floor.

In my ancient rentals wallpaper is often the only thing holding the walls together! It's usually been painted over and I do the same or skim, unless there's some pressing reason not to. I actually wallpaper cracked ceilings with "tin ceiling" textured paper, looks great and holds it together. The ceiling below is almost 19 years old and never been touched since. The room next door that I didn't paper was all cracked again within a few years. (please don't lecture me about the brick efflorescence, I know, I know. Roof coping issue)

+1 on the steamer method.  I bought a Warner steamer off Ebay and it's worked great for us.  Especially on those 50 year old houses where sizing wasn't used.  Still cringe when I see it though.

Scoring tool or paper tiger. Less than $10 at big box store.  Wallpaper removal concentrate ($6) in a spray bottle or pressurized garden sprayer.  Worked like a charm.

One lesson: don't let it dry once sprayed. 

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