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How do I remove painted wallpaper?

Previous owner painted over at least 50 year old wallpaper! Tried scoring it and slathering on DIF, waiting 15 minutes and slathering it on again but it is barely coming off. It seems that my scoring tool is not make to break holes through paint AND wallpaper. And what I have been able to get is causing me to sc**** up the drywall. What can I do???

Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?


What are you using to score the paper? I dislike those gadgets with toothed wheels which puncture the paper. They go too deep and pierce the drywall paper, allowing water to get into the dry wall. I prefer using 36 grit sandpaper and scratching the whole surface. You do not have to get down to the drywall, but merely through the paint, plastic coating on the wallpaper and the inks on the wallpaper. You need to get into the pulp of the wallpaper.

The secret to removing paper is lots of water or steam and lots of patience. !5 minutes is not a lot of time, especially if you are dealing with more than one layer of paper. 30 minutes would be more common.

I would cut 3 foot wide strips of plastic and tape it to the baseboard. I would roll the edge toward the wall to form a trough to catch the water as it runs down the wall. You must keep the surface of the paper totally wet. To this end, I would fill a pressure garden sprayer with the hot water/dif solution.
Obviously, you need to protect the electrical outlets and switches. You can simply cover over them with masking tap. Pull the circuit breaker if yhou are nervous about it.

Do not wet down more than one wall at a time. If you get too far ahead, the paper will start to release and you will not be able to keep up with it. You will have had to needlessly wet down the paper a second time. Just do one wall at a time. As soon as the paper is off, immediately scrub off the residual paste before it dries down.

My assumption is that your house has drywall. At 50 years of age, it could well be plaster. In any event, the procedure is the same. It is usually much easier to get paper off of plaster.

I prefer to use a 2 1/2 inch angled , flexible spackle knife to sc**** the wall. Wider knives disperse the cutting action of the knife over too wide an area and are not as effective.

Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

Thanks for the reply. Maybe you can help me with my 2nd problem now?!!!
The tiger score does not even come close to cutting all the way through unless I use all my weight on it. The house is 118 years old and the wallpaper looks like it's at least 50 or 60 years old itself. Guessing by the hideous design. It's all plaster and I have been able to get one section today using the score tiger (with all my weight), DIF and a roller, and scraping with a putty knife while continuing to spray DIF with a spray bottle as I go. So I can just see it's going to be a time consuming exhausting job. Having 10 foot ceilngs doesn't help either because that's just more wall to do. :)

But the 2nd problem is that all the sticky stuff is not coming off and is still stuck to the plaster. Can this just be sanded down with an orbital sander? It's ALL over the wall and I started picking at it here and there but that would take years. (I work 2 jobs totaling 50-60 hours a week while trying to do this!) Any advice on the 60 year old sticky stuff would be great! Thanks again!

Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

This may surprise many out there...

By the time you're thru battling all this paint/wallpaper mess, you could've just torn down the mess, and put up new rock!
You would be done by now....AND you'd have MUCH better looking walls.
Plus, you can also insulate better, and maybe change some wiring.

If I had a room with that mess on the walls, in an OLD house to boot, I'd be tearin' them walls down in a hurry!

Consider it!


Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

There is no way on God's green earth that my husband would let me do that! lol But thanks for the advice anyway. :)

Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

I did not realize how much paper you had on the wall. It sounds like there are multiple coats of paper on the wall if the Paper Tiger is not getting to the wall.

Years ago, I used to sub-contract out wallpaper removal to a man who would take it of plaster walls dry. He used a flexible 2 1/2 inch angled spackle knife. The constant use of the knife on plaster would strop it razor sharp. He would use an arched swing of the knife, rather than going straight at the paper. It sliced under the paper. He would get those walls almost clean enough to paint over!

You do have to get that residue off the wall. Working to your advantage is that in those far years ago, the paste was usually wheat paste. Wheat paste readily soaks off with water and a little scrubbing.

After cleaning the walls, prime the whole room. I would spackle nicks after the priming, as the nicks and gouges will be much more visible on a blanked out white wall. Your patches can then be spot primed, or if too many, re-prime the whole wall.

Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

I'll still stick to my "Re-sheetrocking" story!

I KNOW it sounds harsh and drastic, but if you're still going thru the backbreaking/shoulder-breaking work of all that stripping/scrubbing/wetting.....yadayada....it COULD EASILY drag on for a week or more:(.

You'd be time ahead just busting-down walls.
* In ONE day, the room could be torn out.
* ONE more day to re-rock/tape it.
* 3rd day: Last 2 coats of mud/sanding:cool:.

NOW you've got perfect walls in 3 to 4 days:D.
AND, IMO....a much better final result, without the drudgery of stripping.....

Sorry for harping on this!!
* I just HATE to see people struggling with this type of project for DAYS & DAYS, and results are STILL sometimes iffy:rolleyes:.
* If a wall situation is what this OP has, you wouldn't see ME pausing! Hand me the [email protected] Pry-bar! You'll be surprised how fast walls can come down!


Re: How do I remove painted wallpaper?

Whereas I would agree that ultimately tearing down to the studs would give the best results, the reality is that this woman is taking on this project by herself with her own resources.

Tearing out 118 year old lath and plaster is dirty, backbreaking work. If she is in a position to hire some or all of this work done, fine. Also, we are talking about considerable extra expense when we add in insulation, wiring, drywall etc. Drywalling is also intimidating for someone who has never done it before, not to mention working on the 10 foot ceilings that one would normally find in homes of this age. I grew up in an 1883 Victorian and was hands on in doing such demo and the surprises that one finds in such old homes. My childhood home had live gas lines in every room!

What I would take on as a "young buck" is now intimidating to me as I grow older. I can imagine how a humble housewife must feel.

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