How to repair drywall???

fletchbDecember 6, 2009

Starting to remove old wall paper installed by previous owners and could not remove without damaging sheetrock/drywall.

Please take a look at my pics and tell me what is easiest way to repair? I have only worked with Spackle and never joint compound (not even sure what the difference is). I know nothing about drywall and just looking for a good fix.

There were 2 layers of wall paper and I think that was part of the problem, along with the fact I have never done this before.

Thank you,


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How are you trying to remove the wallpaper? Are you dry scraping?

If you are trying to remove it with minimal damage, you should be scoring the paper, dampening it with a sponge and soapy water, and using steam from an iron or a wallpaper steamer, along with a wide-bladed joint compound knife for scraping. If these instructions aren't clear to you, I can provide more details. If you are doing proper removal, I'd like to know that.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 3:29PM
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I used 3 tools from Lowes to remove the paper. It was basically a kit that they recommended.

1 the scoring tool - go over wall to cut into it for step 2.

2 Wall paper remover - spray on wait 15 min

3 scrapper tool - scrap off the wall paper (2 layers in my case).

Problem is to get both layers you also tear into the parts of the white part of the wall (gypsom ?)

Now never done this and not realizing how cheaply constructed dry wall really is, I probably went overboard.

I went back to Lowes today and got a dry wall repair kit (I think it is just "mud" and a tool to apply). This time I talked to someone in the paint dept and he said my problem is very very common..someone buys house that previous owners screwed up with wallpaper that won't come off. Told me I would be in hell trying to continue on present course and best bet is to leave rest of paper on walls, only removing where it is peeling. Fill in peeling parts with mud..then prime with oil based primer (I got kilz). Then if I wanted texture hire someone to spray orange product or if I just want smooth then just paint.

I know when house next door was being prepped for sale, they could not get it off as well (and that was a contractor who painted for a living) though not sure if they ended up painting over it or not.

So does Lowes suggesting sound like a good plan??


    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 3:59PM
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I've removed quite a bit of wallpaper, including one bedroom that had 5 layers. Often, wallpaper is not applied properly initially and it becomes hard to remove it years afterward, but it can be done. It sounds like you started out pretty well, but you've probably just got a tough removal.

When I have removed wallpaper, I usually get a few dings and such, but I haven't had to half destroy the sheetrock to do it. I'm going to encourage you to keep trying and I'm going to give you some tips that may help. What you were told by the Lowe's person is not something I would do. If you remove just loose portions and then fill in with compound it is not going to look good, and you may loosen some more of the wallpaper when you paint as it makes the paste moist and the wallpaper may come away in places. And then there are the seams. If you leave it and paint it and decide it looks bad, removal with a coat of paint on it is even harder than what you are facing. I think painted wallpaper looks terrible, and it's always better to do it right, even though it's a pain.

So, here goes:

1. The scoring is a good idea...just make sure you do it all over. If the scoring tool does not do enough for you, you can score more heavily by using a carpenters saw and raking the teeth over the surface. You do this not by "sawing," but by holding the back edge of the blade in front of you with both hands at chest height, placing the blade perpendicular to the wall, and then dragging the teeth up or down. Think of the saw as a squeegee that you are dragging down the wall. It's ok to tear up the face of the wallpaper...just make sure you don't do this so heavily that you go through all the wallpaper layers and scar up the sheetrock.

2. Use plenty of liquid wallpaper much as you can get on. When I do removal, I lay down plastic sheeting: you should be using so much liquid that you are going to get some runoff. You may also be waiting too long to start removing and are getting evaporation which can cause the adhesive to re-set.

3. The most important thing to do is use heat and steam for the next step. You can rent something called a wallpaper steamer, which is sort of like a big, flat metal plate with holes in it and a handle. Steam comes out of the holes as you rub the flat plate on the wall and this really loosens things up so you can easily slide a joint compound knife between the back of the wallpaper and the surface of the sheetrock. I don't bother, though, to rent one: I just use an old steam iron. I work with the iron in one hand and the knife in the other. The iron heats up the water you've applied to the wall, as well as providing steam, and this will dissolve the old, hard paste as long as the surface of the wallpaper is scored enough to let the steam through.

Once you figure out the right balance of liquid and heat, it will be much easier. Just remember that, if you are scraping really hard and messing up the sheetrock, you're not doing it right. There will be some modest damage to the wall even in the best of circumstances, but not anywhere near what I see in your photos. And you can easily patch and sand once all that crap is off the wall. Sheetrock is not that fragile, unless you attack it and dig in so deeply that you are tearing off pieces of the paper face. You won't hurt it with moisture following my suggestions. So, I hope this works better for you now. I've always been able to get the wallpaper off, though some was tougher than others, and you should be able to succeed if you try these steps.

Good luck, and let me know if you have more problems...or if you succeed.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 4:39AM
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If the drywall was not primed or sized before the wallpaper was applied it often produces so much damage trying to get it off that a skim coat or just new drywall is needed.

Drywall is rather inexpensive, and simply removing it and replacing with new is often faster than spending hours trying to strip recalcitrant wallpaper and then still needing to skim coat.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 8:58AM
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Hey thanks for the tips...

I went ahead and pushed on - up the wall around the left side of the sink. It still was not easy but I did better this time with min damage. What I found was there are 3 layers..the first layer which is easy to remove as I don't think it is very old. Next layer is brown paper, then the original which is hard one as it is been at least since 93 maybe even as far back as early 80's when house was built.

I also talked with my mom who has done this and she said some of the same things you painting over would not be good in the long run and also to use an iron. Since I am single, I can get away with doing this very slowly and leaving things in a mess. Got to get an iron then I will try some more. I did try repairing what you see in the photos and putting on only 1 layer made it look much better. I have read conflicting advice on the net---that I should have put the primer on *before* i put on the mud I went ahead tonight and put on the primer before I add any more layers (will probably need 2 more). Anyway I am going to keep on the repairs..then get an iron and continue on.

Thanks again for the help,

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 10:29PM
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Concerning the joint compound....I recently had to replace several walls in a closet of mine that were damaged by water.

The joint compound seemed just like spackle to me. I would suggest using the joint tape that sticks to the joint and kinda looks like made the joint work a lot easier.

Anyways, just my two cents.

Here is a link that might be useful: John

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Are you talking about some kind of paint primer? You do not want to be putting any sealant on before you completely repair the wall damage with the joint compound. Once you have applied the joint compound and sanded (and maybe repeated that process to get it flat), then you can prime over the whole wall surface. But if you try to put joint compound over a painted surface, it may not adhere well.

As for an iron, just go to the Salvation Army or a thrift store and buy an old steam iron...

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 3:54AM
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"I would suggest using the joint tape that sticks to the joint and kinda looks like made the joint work a lot easier."

The mesh tape is not intended for use with pre-mixed drywall mud, it is designed for use with setting compound (powder you mix with water).

Covering damaged drywall surface with a layer of sealer before repairing is very common. The water in the drywall mud will soak into the torn edges of the cardboard layer and cause it to swell.
A coat of primer before skimming is not uncommon on damaged drywall.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:21AM
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There is a product called GARDZ which is designed to seal paper such as damaged drywall. It dries very quickly. Then, apply mud. In the absence of sealing the damaged paper before mudding, the mud will cause the paper to start bubbling up due to the water in the mud, as Brickeye says.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:21AM
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Regarding sealer, I can only tell you that I've had to repair many a piece of gouged sheetrock and done many patches and other repairs, and I've yet to have any problems when directly applying joint compound to unsealed surfaces. And it hasn't made any difference whether the fix invoved paper tape or not. Just my experience...

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 3:02PM
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Try skimming a large area with damaged cardboard from contact paper that was torn off.

Time is money, and while you can not seal and just apply another coat of mud, schedules matter.

I can use a shellac based sealer, then skim in about an hour and know there will not be bubbling.

I rarely even skim with pre-mixed mud and a drywall knife.

Setting compound and a plasterer's trowel make very short work of large areas.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 4:08PM
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Well guys you illustrated what I was talking about as far as conflicts on how to proceed. I have already put on one layer of mud and one layer of oil based primer so what is done is done . I had read the part about the paper bubbling but that is not a concern in my case as the damaged area has no paper left. What I read was that it can also cause the mud to shrink and crack and it does appear that it did shrink a bit. I put on a partial new layer tonight so we will see how it does over the top of the primer.

I may have to remove the splash board behind the sink and wonder how hard is that typically to remove/reinstall??

I was loaned both a steamer and an iron today so after this layer dries I will try them and see how they do compared to the spray.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 9:26PM
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Decided to give the steamer a quick shot and could immediately see big improvement. 10 min with steamer = about a days worth the way I was doing it before. Will have to wait till weekend to do more as I will have to remove a light and shades to get at very top but hey least I am making progress!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 10:52PM
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"What I read was that it can also cause the mud to shrink and crack and it does appear that it did shrink a bit.

Pre-mixed drywall mud hardens by drying out, and shrinkage occurs.
There is no way to really stop shrinkage cracking except by adding another (hopefully thinner) layer.

The shrinkage cracks get smaller and smaller as the mud coats get thinner and thinner.

Setting compounds (like EasySand) harden by chemical reaction (like plain plaster).
If they are mixed with as little water as needed to get a workable thickness the shrinkage can be essentially zero, even for large and thick patches. I have had to fill in plaster ground gaps in remodeling work, and a layer of Easysand 1-2 inches wide and an inch thick barely shrinks a few thousandths of an inch in width when setting.

The Easaysand should be about the consistency of peanut butter for minimal shrinkage.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 9:09AM
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I'm glad to hear the steamer is working for you. By the time you're done with this project you'll almost be an expert!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 3:20PM
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Be sure to allow plenty of drying time after using a steamer on drywall.

It takes a decent time for the moisture that gets into the drywall to make its way back out.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 4:20PM
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Thanks kudzu and brickeyee...
Was very frustrated at the start..glad you kept suggesting things kudzu as the steamer is what really got things moving along. Funny thing is my secretary gave it to me as she had a better one and said it didn't work very well. But for this job it works great.

Wall damage is almost completely repaired at this point. Still working slowly but getting there...


    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 5:26PM
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Great. I always love to hear when something works! Congrats!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 8:04PM
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I have found some excellent info sites if you google drywall repair...videos, etc.....I found these ( and this site ) while looking for current drywall contractor installation pricing for a current estimate I am working on...any one know current NJ sq.ft. pricing???????? need to double rock a garage ceiling two layers 5/8 firerock since a bedroom is above ....approx.. 20 x 17...thanks

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 7:53AM
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