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Proper Steps for Repairing Drywall After Wallpaper Removal

calander Aug 30 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

After staring at its outdated designs and texture for years, perhaps you’ve finally decided to tear down that wallpaper. What you didn’t anticipate, however, is what your wall would look like underneath that long-standing covering. Not only does wallpaper conceal underlying wall imperfections, but the removal process itself can do serious damage, especially if you take the wrong approach. After you’ve removed your wallpaper, you might be left with an even bigger problem that requires significant repairs, touch-ups, and of course, a fresh coat of paint.

Let’s outline the necessary steps for repairing drywall after wallpaper removal.

How to Repair Drywall After Wallpaper Removal

Know What You’ll Need

Before digging into how to repair drywall after removing wallpaper, it helps to have a basic idea of the tools and materials you’ll need for the job. This general list includes:

  • Drop cloths

  • Sponges and/or cloths

  • Cleaning solution

  • Utility knife/scraper

  • Drywall/joint compound

  • Putty knife

  • Sandpaper of various grit sizes

  • Taping knife

  • Painter’s tape

  • Whisk broom

  • Paint buckets, pans, and liners

  • Sealing primer (shellac or oil-based)

  • Drill with mixer attachment

  • Brushes and rollers

  • Low- and medium-nap roller covers

  • Interior house paint

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, eyewear, head covering, close-toed shoes, etc.

This list isn’t comprehensive -- you may need some more things depending on the project scope. At the very least, however, you’ll want to equip yourself with the items mentioned above. If you hire professionals, they’ll have all of these materials and more at their disposal.

Wash Your Walls

Even if you didn’t have too hard a time peeling away your wallpaper, the underlying drywall will likely feature a fair amount of residue from the adhesive. You won’t be able to properly repair or paint the drywall if it’s left in this sticky state, so a good cleaning is your first course of action. Different cleaning solutions can get the job done, such as a dedicated wallpaper paste remover or a mixture of vinegar and water (1:4 ratio). After applying your solution to the walls in question, thoroughly scrub them using a rough sponge or cloth. After that, rinse the walls with water and gently wipe and pat the areas with a clean cloth. Wait for the walls to dry completely before moving on.

Scrape Away Loose Material

Washing your walls won’t just help eliminate any stubborn glue -- it will also loosen up any parts of drywall that need to go (i.e., peeling drywall paper). Use your utility knife to scrape away significant chunks of this loose material and your fingers to pluck away smaller bits. This process might seem problematic, making an even bigger mess of your drywall. However, you don’t want to go any further if pieces of drywall are peeling away from the surface. Not to worry -- it won’t be long before you restore your drywall’s appearance.

Prime the Affected Areas

Now, it’s time to truly begin fixing up your drywall. Using a shellac or oil-based drywall primer, cover all those torn, exposed areas. Failing to prime these damaged sections can lead to wrinkling, bubbling, and other problems when applying additional coatings. In other words, this initial coat of primer creates a waterproof barrier while helping to recreate an even, paintable surface. Of course, a single coat of primer usually isn’t enough to skip all the way to the painting process. There’s additional prep work to do.

Sand, Scrape, and Prime Again

After that initial coat of primer has dried, you’ll want to carefully sand down the wall and scrape away any residual loose drywall paper. If you happen to expose more drywall during the sanding and scraping process, apply another coat of primer (make sure you have enough primer on hand from the get-go, as you may need more than you realize). Once again, the goal here is to establish a smoother and more receptive surface.

Patch Up Holes and Gouges

After wallpaper removal, most underlying walls will feature gouges and other instances of more severe drywall damage. Scraping, sanding, and priming alone won’t resolve these issues. So, after you’ve taken care of the aforementioned tasks, it’s time to address these deeper concerns. This is where your drywall/joint compound and putty knife will come into play. First, properly mix your joint compound as instructed; your drill and mixing attachment will make for an efficient and accurate mixing process. Once mixed to the right consistency, apply several applications of your joint compound to each impacted area, and make sure to extend the patch job a few inches beyond the damaged area itself so you can make it flush using your sanding tool after it’s all dried.

Skim Coat Drywall if Necessary

If the damage to your drywall following wallpaper removal is widespread and severe, basic patchwork might not be enough. Instead, you may need to skim coat the whole wall. Skim coating entails covering the entire surface with a thin mixture of joint compound (two or more coats are often required). Read our blog, “How to Skim Coat Drywall After Wallpaper Removal,” for more detailed instructions.

Sand and Prime a Final Time Before Painting

Whether you wind up skim coating or merely touching up your drywall with joint compound, the repair job isn’t complete until you’ve sanded and primed it one more time -- that is, if you plan on doing some interior painting, which is probably the case. Indeed, painting your drywall after all of this will seal the deal, so to speak, concealing any remaining signs of repair and allowing you to give your wall a new lease on life. It takes a fair amount of work to get to this point, but seeing a smooth, freshly painted wall where that old wallpaper used to be is well worth the effort.

Why Hire Wallpaper Removal and Drywall Repair Experts

With the right materials and approach, just about anyone can repair their drywall after removing wallpaper. That said, tackling this project on your own might not be the best way to go if you lack experience or confidence. Even if you love doing things yourself, both the wallpaper removal and drywall repair processes often get messy, and even small mistakes can set you back significantly. For these reasons, it’s best to seek professional help. At Nash Painting, our meticulous wallpaper removal services minimize damage done to the underlying drywall, and our repair and painting services efficiently get your surfaces back in shape without major messes.

Let us help you get it right from the start, just as we have for so many others across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!