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Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

Hello all:

We just bought my homeplace from my mother's estate. My mother was always very particular about her home.....it was her favorite place on earth! It was built by a New Englander in 1904 and she was only the 2nd owner. We feel, like she did, that this home is part of our family. So, now that she is gone, we want to do some updating.

The home has a living room and dining room that are open to each other separated by sliding pocket doors. Both of these rooms have at least three coats of wallpaper over the original plaster. Of course, my mother did an awesome job using the old-fashioned paste that she mixed and all three layers are still sticking pretty darn good (shucks!). There are a few bubbles in corners though. Anyway, the top layer is old,yellowed, and needs replacing. I want to switch to a solid color of paint. My questions are:

1. Should I use a steamer and try to get the 3 layers of wallpaper off of the plaster and see what I got?


2. Should I not chance it and put a skim coat of drywall compound over all of the wallpaper and paint?


3. Put paintable wallpaper on top of the old other 3 and just paint?

As you might have guessed, I have gotten a lot of opinions from southern folks.


Paula KYLady

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

Remove your paper with a steamer. It will prevent the plaster from absorbing any solvent remover as well as not damage the plaster which is lime based not gypsum based which water can effect. Putting a skim layer of joint compound over the wallpaper will cause problems if the wallpaper adhesive used is water soluble. Removal of the wallpaper will allow you to start with a fresh surface that is solid. R...http://www.preservationplastering.com

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

I agree with PlaterMaestro. Chances are any other way will loosen the paste of the wallpaper and cause you more problems.

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

One more solution that I forgot to mention was to put 1/4" drywall over all of it!

What do you all think about doing that instead of steaming the wallpaper off?


Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

Personally, I think it would be less work to steam. At lest that way you don't have to rework woodwork which you may have to do to add a layer of new wallboard.

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

We just removed layers of old wallpaper from our plaster walls AND replaced two sheets of drywall in a newer section of the house. If I had to do it all over again I would definitely forgo the drywall altogether and have the newer section plastered. Removing the wallpaper isn't as daunting as you may think. It's also a lot easier to clean up than all of that drywall dust and cheaper too! Plus, you'll have the original 100year old plaster walls... how cool is that?!

Here's what we did...

First, we ran over the walls with a wallpaper scorer, making sure to get through all the layers of paper. Don't skimp on this part... the more holes the better. We then saturated the paper with a solution of vinegar and water applied with a pump (or garden) sprayer.

The key here is patience... I don't have any so I speak from experience! If you don't soak the paper enough or start to peel it off too soon it will be much more work.

You'll need to mist the walls many times. Keep them wet, don't wait until they are dry to spray them again. You will notice the paper start to pucker, especially around the score marks. Once it starts to separate from the wall in large areas, it's time to peel. The paper should come off in large sheets instead of little mushy clumps. It may take some trial and error to know when the paper is ready to peel, but you'll get the hang of it. The walls will also need a little scrubbing to get any residual paste off, you can use a nylon brush and the vinegar and water solution for that too.

Good luck!

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

After buying and trying various products to remove wallpaper, what worked the best for us was using fabric softener mixed with water and steaming the paper off. We tried the vinegar and water and the fabric softner not only worked better, but smelled better. We used this to remove layers of paper on our plaster walls in a 1909 home.

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

Yes, the fabric softener does work!

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

I have already removed most of the wallpaper on lath and plaster walls from a 1895 home. This is my first time dealing with plaster and I have a lot more walls ahead of me in the house. I would like to restore the plaster instead of putting up drywall, but I am stuck. What I think is the finish coat, becomes very soft, mudlike when wet.

There are two layers of wallpaper with paint inbetween and on the top, then a skim/finish coat (about 1/16 inch thick) which becomes very soft with water. Beneath the skim/finish coat is painted sandy plaster (base coat?). I have been using dif to remove the wallpaper. I have tried to be very careful not to remove the skim/finish.

I'm thinking of switching to a steamer to do the remaining sections to not further impact the sensitive skim coat or should I remove skim/finish coat and put a whole new skim coat on? If this is the case, how do I prepare the 110 year old painted base coat for a skim coat.

The green strip in the first picture is where the moulding was that I removed and had no skim/finish coat. The material is the hard sandy painted layer (base coat).

The second picture shows a crossection of the plaster. The top layer is wallpaper with brown paper backing, then the questionable skim/finish that becomes soft with water and then the painted sandy base.

Please help

Re: Plastered Walls that have been wallpapered

I have a resin based plaster product that will adhere to the existing lath, bond to remaining surrounding plaster, and is easily worked to the same level of surrounding plaster. It is sandable, and water resistant. This product can be used to skim coat plaster walls. It also adheres to wood, tile, glass, concrete. Please email [email protected]

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