Hard-to-remove wallpaper may call for new drywall
Q: We decided to remove wallpaper from the entryway walls in our home. It had been applied by previous owners and came off quite well. Underneath the wallpaper was another layer of wallpaper, which wouldn’t be a problem except that we found that under that wallpaper is wood, rather than the expected drywall or plaster.Other than chiseling it off in little pieces, we have not found a way that works. Do you have any suggestions? – Larry and Jan, via e-mail.A: Depending on the construction year of the home – 1950 and on – the walls should be covered with a sheet rock material.There was a time when a sheet rock under layment with holes to anchor the plaster was used in place of older wood or metal lath. Plaster was then applied over the thin sheet rock to form a smooth finish.The ceiling of the room you’re working on should be the same material as the walls, so check that area first. From the attic you should be able to determine if plaster or sheet rock were used. With plaster you can see the plaster squished up between the wood slats of the lath. Drywall or sheet rock has a gray, smooth paper backing.I have also seen wood wall panels that were manufactured with either a wallpaper finish or had the pattern applied with hot glue so that it won’t come off. The wood panels in most homes were installed over the underlying drywall or plaster. If you can find a seam – one every 4 feet – then pull the panel loose to see what’s behind it. In a few rare cases, the paneling was installed directly over the wall studs, in which case you will have to cover the studs with 1/2 inch-thick drywall once the paneling is removed.When you’re remodeling and you run into problems with old plastered walls that are falling apart or with wallpaper that cannot be removed, you can skim coat the walls with a quarter-inch thick drywall material.One thing you have to do is determine if the trim is thick enough so that the new drywall does not overhang the trim. In such a rare instance, the trim would have to be removed before skim coating.Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 286, Evansville, Ind. 47702.
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