Removing Wallpaper Over Tile

fleethartApril 24, 2008

Has anyone wallpapered over tile? What do you put over tile to smooth it out? I'd sure like to know so I find something besides a box knife to clean the tiles.

We bought a 1910 farmhouse with good bones and some unfortunate remodeling by the PO. While my husband travels for work, I think of projects. So he's gone and I found tile backsplash under wallpaper in the kitchen! It's a geometric pattern of 1" square tiles (red or pink), 1/4" square tiles (black, grey, white or tan) or and 1/2" by 1/4" rectangles in white, tan, or buff). They all have faux marble streaks and some have gold mirror like flecks. I can't decide if I like it or not, but since the wallpaper is mostly gone I am committed now. The wallpaper was one of 3 different patterns in the kitchen anyway so now we are down to 2 unique patterns.

What era would produce a style like this? It doesn't seem original but I am not an expert so any ideas?

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Have you tried a steamer yet? I used to rent them, but there are very economical steamers on the market (around fifty dollars and they work just fine, thank you very much) and I bought one because I have been working on old houses for decades and wallpaper is an issue in most of them.

I haven't found a paper job yet that steam won't markedly hasten. Once the paper is wet to the paste, a soft brush should take it off of tile.

I don't know what it is 'officially' called, but there is a backing made specifically to cover things like paneling and rough walls, over which one lays wallpaper. It is quite thick of course, but believe it is water permeable and would be softened by steam.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 11:47AM
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Hi Calliope,
Thank you for advice about the paper, fortunately it came off easily. The stuff I can't get off isn't really a backing per se, its more of a paste or spackle type compound they spread over the tile to smooth it out before they applied wallpaper. Now its dried and crusty and it won't come off the tiles. I used water and vinegar to get the paper off and it moistened the 'paste'. It got softer but still must be scraped off each tiny tile. Do you think steam will work on it?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 11:57PM
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To be honest, better than water if you can keep this stuff wet long enough to soften it up. God knows what it is, and it may not even be water soluble.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 12:37AM
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There are special glues used to hang wallpaper over slick surfaces (ex. formica, paneling, tiles, etc.), which it sounds like someone might have used. They work great, but it's difficult to remove. Try spraying hot tap water on the tiles and let set for a couple of minutes....then use a 3M scrubbie to loosen the adhesive, then rinse. As the previous poster (calliope) said, who knows what they used and if it's even water soluble.

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 3:32PM
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Thank you, Sandra. Unfortuntely Calliope was right, it is not water soluble. Someone recently suggested trying mineral spirits or denatured alcohol since it most likely is silicon based. Now that winter has come, I'll start working on this again. Hubby leaves again soon so I better finish this before I start the next project.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 11:09AM
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Your tile looks like some I've seen from the 1950's.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 7:24PM
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