Remove painted over wallpaper from plaster walls

codpieceOctober 3, 2006

House built in 1915. Walls are plaster with paint over several layers (at least 2 or 3) of wallpaper. Seams of wallpaper show through the paint and paint is lifts off the wall in some places. We scraped the paint off of 2 walls in 1 bedroom (hard). Once down to old wallpaper spraying a a little hot water on the wallpaper let us easily get down to bare plaster. Next comes sanding, patching, sanding and priming for paint correct?

Please tell me there is an easier way to get painted over wallpaper off the walls.

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Try a little fabric softener in the hot water it loosens the wallpaper paste.
If you can score the paper with a paper tiger so the water/softener can get underneath the paint and into the paper it might make it easier.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 6:11PM
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4 inch razor blade scrapper and a bunch of spare blades.
When you hit the right angle of the scraper it will split the last layer of wallpaper and everything else comes off in long strips. The hardest partis getting an edge to start working from.
The paint will crumble as the paper curls.
It is so much of a pig job it is very hard to find anyone to do it.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 6:15PM
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As brickeye so aptly stated this is a pig of a job. Sometimes people come and ask if it's OK to paint over their wallpaper as a quick fix. I usually advise them they're storing up extreme amounts of bad house karma if they do. (By removing painted wallpaper you are doing the reverse, I'm sure!)

However, I may be able save you one of the steps you listed. I don't think you will need to sand as the first step in your list. You may have to wash the walls, but shouldn't have to sand until you've done any necessary patching.

And as a previous poster noted you don't have to scrape the paint before stripping the paper just get a tool that perforates the whole mess and then remove paint and paper at once.

If you happen to have one, you might try using one of those cleaning steamers like a LadyBug or TidyVap. I have found them quite useful for cleaming up the remnants of paper that remain, if not the main stripping job.



    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:12PM
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The easiest way: hire someone else to do it! Every wall and ceiling in the first and second floors of our big 1910 Craftsman house had multiple layers of wallpaper and paint. Probably about 4 each. There was no way we could have done that much on our own. After our contractor removed everything he discovered that the plaster was a mess and repaired it. What a mess that was! But the end result was lovely. (I did most of the interior painting.)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 12:11AM
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I agree w/prev poster, do a small single room first and see what shape your wall are in. Not worth stripping if you'll have to replace or skim coat anyways.

Re stripping, here's what worked for me:

Get on of these scrapers...

Get some FAST wallpaper remover (I like better than DIF)...

Mix the FAST w/hot water in a good heavy duty spray bottle. Mix it a little on the strong side. Let the spray penetrate for a few seconds, then scrape.

When you have all the old wallpaper off, you can wash the walls with a mild FAST solution to get all the glue off. Then wash again with something like Dirtex...

Because of the paint you may have use a paper tiger to score the paint and wallpaper to allow solutions to penetrate...

Or if it's real bad, maybe a rent a steamer.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 9:05AM
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Had some walls with so many layers of paper and paint, I used a scraper without wetting the paper, just to get the top layers off. Once I got down to the last couple of layers, I used a scorer, sprayed with warm water, waited a couple of minutes for it to soak in, then scraped. It took more brute force for the first round of scraping, but there was less gooey mess during spraying phase since fewer layers of paper remained on the wall. According to Molly, I've accumulated my share of good house karma!

It is truly a thankless job. After I finished stripping all the paper and repaired the plaster, my husband painted. Guess who gets all the compliments?


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 4:22PM
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my first job in this old house was to remove the painted over 4 layers of wallpaper in my son's room. i did the whole dif, paper tiger, scrape thing. got sick of always running out so i experimented w/ hot water and vinegar. this cheap ever ubiquitous mixture poured into a spray bottle worked better then the blue stuff.

now i am working on the same problem in the master bedroom only i stumbled upon a neat trick. scoring is a nasty job w/ the paint dust and that horrific sound. instead i took duct tape and randomly placed strips on the walls. next day, i yanked them off thus revealing old wallpaper that easily soaked up the hot vinegar mixture. this room has been less dusty and much easier.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 4:42PM
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I like that duct tape trick! Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 9:44AM
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I removed wallpaper from a small bathroom with a steamer - worked great. When I looked at the walls in preparation for paint I noticed what looks like torn paper. Evidently a previous owner also removed wallpaper but couldn't get all of the paper backing off so decided to prime over it. Anyone have any recommendations for removing this?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 11:54AM
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I didn't remove the paint first. Perhaps I was lucky (sure was messy), but I scored the paper through the paint and most of it lifted off. The paint crumbled like mad, but it was better than scraping. Did you try that?

Good luck. It's a messy job!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 11:02AM
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I moved into a 1945 Cape. In the entry, living room, and stairwell to the second floor was wallpaper. We scored the whole thing, then put on the gel. It would not come off. We tried vinegar. Nothing. Hot water. Nothing. We rented a steamer. It took 3 people an entire day and some serious hand pain to remove ONE wall. A small wall. They must have used superglue to put it up. We didn't have the time or energy to face the impossible job in the rest of the area, so we painted over it in desperation. I know it's terrible. Of course, we can see the score marks through the paint. I don't think removal is an option. It was a fool's errand before we painted over it. Can I skim coat over this? Any other suggestions (other than papering over it) for how to hide the score marks? They are on every square inch. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:37AM
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