How To Repair Drywall After Removing Wallpaper

How To Repair Drywall After Removing Wallpaper

How To Repair Drywall After Removing Wallpaper

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal and its Effects on Drywall

Wallpaper provides charm, texture, elegance and an artistic flair to an otherwise plain wall. However, after several years, the wallpaper starts to peel or, the design may simply grow out-of-date, leading to the decision to remove it. The process of wallpaper removal, although seeming simple, significantly impacts your drywall. This article aims to discuss in depth the impact of wallpaper removal on drywall and reliable ways to repair these effects.

Why Wallpaper Removal Is Damaging

Wallpapers are usually either strippable or peelable. Strippable wallpapers can be removed without causing any significant damage to the wall underneath, save for a few minor scratches or scuffs. However, peelable wallpapers, the more common type, often leave a layer of backing paper attached to the wall. When forcefully scraped off, this can cause significant damage to the drywall, gouging its surface or occasionally removing its outer layer.

Possible Damages to Drywall

When wallpaper is removed, the wall might reveal a host of potential problems. This includes gouges, tears or even unprimed drywall. In the presence of moisture, the glue that holds the paper to the wall may percolate into the drywall and damage it, causing the appearance of lumps and bumps. Repeated attempts at wallpaper removal can also lead to multiple layers of damage.

The Perils of Unprimed Drywall

Unprimed drywall is particularly at risk. Unsealed drywall absorbs the water from the wallpaper paste instead of allowing the paste to remain on the surface for easy removal. The absorbed water can dissolve the drywall’s outer layer which may make the drywall surface uneven while removing the wallpaper.

Gouges and Tears

Gouges and tears are common when removing wallpaper from drywall. When the drywall is scored too deeply, the surface paper can peel and tear, making the wall surface uneven.

Wallpaper Removal Best Practices

To avoid serious damages to the drywall during wallpaper removal, adhere to best practices which include using a wallpaper scoring tool that doesn't cut too deeply, applying a removal solution, and using a scraper tool with caution to minimize risks of gouging the wall.

Repairing Drywall After Wallpaper Removal

Fortunately, the effects of wallpaper removal on drywall can be repaired. The process generally involves skim coating to smoothen the wall surface or, in severe cases, re-hanging the drywall. First, fill any damaged portions with a joint compound and allow it to dry. Sand it smooth and repeat until a smooth finish is achieved.

Sealing and Priming

After repairing the drywall, it is crucial to seal and prime the wall to create a suitable surface for the new wallpaper or paint. Sealing and priming help prevent glue or paint from soaking into the drywall, enabling an enduring and appealing finish.

Necessary Tools and Supplies for Drywall Repair

To effectively repair drywall after removing wallpaper, certain specific tools and supplies are absolutely necessary to ensure that the job is executed to perfection. Having the correct tools will not only simplify the job but will undoubtedly significantly transform the aesthetics of your drywall.

Drywall Knife

This is an indispensable tool needed to spread joint compound on drywall. They usually come in various sizes, the most common being 6-inch and 12-inch knives. Beginners might find the 6-inch knife easier to maneuver, while a 12-inch knife will cover larger areas in less time.

Joint Compound

The joint compound, also known as drywall mud, is used to cover the seams between drywall panels and to cover and smooth any indentations or holes. It's advisable to select an all-purpose joint compound for ease and effectiveness.

Drywall Saw

In situations that may require you to cut or reshape the drywall, a drywall saw would be necessary. They are small, with a sharp and pointed blade, ideal for puncturing and sawing your drywall.

Drywall paper tape or Mesh Tape

This is used alongside the joint compound to form a solid connection when joining two pieces of drywall. These come in two types, the paper tape which is a traditional choice and the mesh tape which is believed to be easier to use especially for beginners.

Sandpaper and Sanding Sponge

Once the joint compound is dry, it will require sanding to create a smooth surface. A fine-grit sandpaper generally produces satisfactory results. Additionally, a sanding sponge can be used for corners and edges, making the job simpler and more manageable.


This is essential for preparing the repaired surface before wallpapering or painting. This helps to seal the joint compound and provide a suitable surface for the paint or wallpaper to adhere.

Paintbrush and Roller

For the application of the primer-sealer and paint, you will require these tools. The size and type of the paintbrush and roller require will largely depend on the size and texture of your walls.

The bottom line

In order to get professional looking results when repairing your drywall after removing wallpaper, these tools and materials are extremely crucial. Having them on hand will greatly simplify your work and lead to a much better outcome.

Understanding the Root Causes of Drywall Damage During Wallpaper Removal

When you're removing wallpaper from drywall, certain issues can result in damage to the wall. It's important to understand these root causes so you can prevent them in the future and repair any current damage in the most effective way possible.

Root Cause 1: Improper Wallpaper Installation

One of the most common root causes of drywall damage during wallpaper removal is improper wallpaper installation. If the wallpaper was not installed correctly, it might not come off as easily as it should, leading to damage. This could include using the wrong type of adhesive, not adequately preparing the drywall surface before installation, or even using too much adhesive.

Root Cause 2: Old or Damaged Drywall

The condition of the drywall itself can also contribute to damage during wallpaper removal. Old or damaged drywall is more susceptible to damage because it may crumble or break away more easily when the wallpaper is being removed. Factors such as previous water damage, poor installation, or excessive force applied during removal can also weaken the drywall.

Root Cause 3: Inappropriate Removal Techniques

Sometimes, the way the wallpaper is removed can cause unnecessary damage to the drywall. Using improper tools, such as metal scrapers or knives, can scratch or gouge the drywall. Similarly, excessive force or speed during removal can rip or tear the drywall surface.

Root Cause 4: Layers of Wallpaper

In some cases, previous homeowners may have installed new wallpaper over old layers. Removing multiple layers of wallpaper at once can be a challenging task and may result in drywall damage if not done carefully. The older the wallpaper, the more likely it is to be stubborn and difficult to remove, causing potential harm to the drywall beneath.

Root Cause 5: Waterproof Wallpaper

Waterproof wallpaper is specifically designed to resist moisture penetration. This can make it incredibly difficult to remove by traditional methods, as the water required to loosen the adhesive cannot easily penetrate the paper. As a result, homeowners may resort to more aggressive methods of removal, which can result in damage to the drywall.

Preventing and repairing Drywall Damage

By understanding these root causes, you can work to prevent future drywall damage during wallpaper removal. If damage occurs despite your best efforts, knowing what caused the damage can guide you in taking appropriate measures to fix it. In the following sections, we will discuss various techniques for repairing drywall after removing wallpaper, each tailored to address the different types of damage that could occur.

Basic Techniques for Assessing Drywall Damage

Removing wallpaper from a wall often leads to revealing damages in the drywall beneath. However, not every type of wall blemish demands the same treatment. It is necessary to properly assess the damage and understand its nature before deciding on a remedy.

Visual Inspection

Start by performing a visual inspection. Look for obvious issues like cracks, holes, or dents. Another common form of damage is bubbling, where patches of the drywall bulge out. Don't forget to inspect corners and edges as well, as these areas are often subjected to more wear and tear due to their exposed positions.

Physical Check

Following the visual inspection, validate your observations by physical verification. Gently press on the areas you suspect are damaged. If the drywall feels spongy or gives way under light pressure, it might be seriously damaged.

Moisture Damage

Moisture damage is a serious issue that can lead to mold and mildew growth behind the wallpaper. Look for signs of water staining, discoloration, or a musty smell. These indications can suggest a hidden water leak that may have caused extensive damage.

Seam and Joint Inspection

The seams and joints of the drywall need special attention. If they become visible or begin to crack, it is a sign that the underlying tape may have failed, or the joint compound has not been applied properly.

Peeling or Flaking Paint

Once the wallpaper is removed, if you notice areas where the drywall's paint is peeling or flaking, this could be a sign of improper wall preparation or the usage of low-quality paint.

Structural Damage

Lastly, check for any bulges or warped sections in the drywall, which could indicate a larger structural issue. Any such issues will require professional inspection to properly diagnose the extent of the damage and the appropriate remedy.

Understanding Your Walls

Underlying each of these conditions is a concept of understanding the state of your walls. Not all blemishes or damage are easily spotted and some may require further investigation. Understanding the age of the drywall components, its interaction with wallpaper glue, or past treatments can aid the assessment.

What to Keep in Mind

Before beginning the repair process, remember that assessing drywall damage involves attention to detail and a methodical approach. By correctly identifying the damage beforehand, you can save time, effort, and money by choosing the right repair method the first time round.

Step-by-step Guide to Repairing Minor Drywall Damage

Repairing minor drywall damage after removing wallpaper can initially seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, materials, and instructions, it's fully manageable. Here's how to go about it:

1. Identify the Type of Damage

Finding out the type of damage is the initial step in the repair process. Small holes and cracks or splotches where the paint has pulled away with the wallpaper will be most common.

2. Gather Necessary Tools

The tools you need may vary depending on the damage, but generally, you'll require a utility knife, sandpaper, a drywall knife, and a special repair kit for more extensive damage.

3. Clean the Area

Begin the drywall repair process by cleaning the damaged area. Remove any loose debris and ensure the workspace is free of dust. Use a damp cloth to clean, then let it dry completely before moving on.

4. Apply Drywall Compound

Use your drywall knife to apply a thin layer of joint compound over the area. Make sure the layer is even and flat.


For holes, you may need to use a drywall patch from your repair kit before applying the joint compound.

5. Allow to Dry

After the compound is applied, allow it to dry completely. The time required for drying may be anything from a few hours to a full day, depending on the damage and the thickness of the compound.

6. Sand Smooth

Once the joint compound is completely dry, lightly sand the area until it's smooth and even with the rest of the wall. Be careful not to over-sand and create a depression in the wall.

7. Prime and Paint

Once you've achieved a smooth surface, the repaired area can be primed and painted to match the rest of your wall. This step ensures that the repaired area blends in perfectly with the surrounding wall.

This step-by-step guide should help you successfully navigate the process of repairing minor drywall damage after wallpaper removal. When done correctly, your walls should look as good as new.

In-depth Procedure for Fixing Severe Drywall Damage

When it comes to repairing significant damages on your drywall after removing wallpaper, you need to undertake a more in-depth set of steps. These include assessing the damage, preparing the area, patching and sanding, priming, and painting.

1. Assessing the Damage

The first step in any repair job is to understand the extent of the damage. Look for dents, holes, or gouges that may have been left after the removal of the wallpaper. Take note of their size and severity as this will determine the materials and techniques needed for the repair.

2. Preparing the Area

Before you start with the repair work, ensure that the surrounding area is adequately protected. Use drop cloths or plastic sheets to cover the floor and furniture. Mask off the area with painter's tape to prevent dust and debris from spreading to the walls and the floor.

a. Removing Loose Drywall

Use a utility knife to cut away any loose or damaged drywall. This helps to create a clean work surface for your repair.

b. Cleaning the Wall

Once the damaged areas are removed, clean the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or grime. Allow it to dry thoroughly before proceeding with the repair.

3. Patching and Sanding

Then comes fixing the damaged patches. Use a putty knife to apply joint compound, also known as drywall mud, to the damaged areas. The compound should be spread evenly, and a larger repair may require layering of the product.

a. Application

Apply the first layer of joint compound, keeping it as smooth as possible. Let it dry completely. This might take up to 24 hours.

b. Sanding

After the joint compound has dried, sand the area to ensure a smooth and even surface. Be careful not to sand down too much of the compound.

c. Additional Layers

If the damage is severe, you might have to repeat the application and sanding process multiple times, ensuring each layer is dried properly before the next one is applied.

4. Priming

The repaired area needs to be primed. This results in a uniform appearance once the paint is applied. Use a high-quality primer and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

5. Painting

Finally, apply paint that matches the rest of the wall. Depending on the type of paint used, you might need to apply two coats to achieve a seamless blend.

Fixing severe drywall damage might seem challenging, but with the right approach and tools, it can be done effectively. By following these in-depth steps, you can ensure that your drywall is repaired to a standard that is as good as new.

Painting and Finishing Touches after Drywall Repair

As a critical phase in the process of repairing drywall after removing wallpaper, painting and finishing touches are vital in making sure the task is completed effectively and aesthetically. This phase helps incorporate the repaired section back into the room by smoothing over the fix and applying paint for that final touch of perfection.

Preparing for Painting

Before you dive into painting over the repaired drywall, there are a few preparatory steps that should not be overlooked.

  1. Surface Inspection: Take a moment to check the drywall repair area. This is to ensure that there are no visible seams, bumps, or defects left on the wall.
  2. Primer Application: Primers are an essential step before painting any drywall. They help seal the wall and provide a base for the paint to adhere to.

Painting the Repaired Drywall

Once the preparation is taken care of, it's time to apply the paint.

  • Choosing the Right Paint: For rooms like hallways or kids' rooms that experience a lot of hustle and bustle, a semi-gloss or gloss paint might be best because it's easy to clean. On the other hand, for rooms where you'd love a subtler finish, a flat or matte paint can work wonders.
  • Applying the Paint: Start painting from the top and work your way down. Make sure to keep the paint strokes uniform, either in a vertical or horizontal direction to prevent stroke marks.

Adding the Finishing Touches

Finishing touches may involve adding baseboards, trim or crown molding, depending on the design of the room. Take care when reinstalling these pieces to prevent scratching the fresh paint. Installing these elements will give your room a complete, polished feel.

Tips for a Professional Finish

Remember to take your time; rushing through the painting process can lead to visible strokes and uneven paint layers. Use a small brush to get into corners or edges, and always make sure to clean up immediately after painting to avoid issues with dried droplets or spills.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Future Drywall Damage

Seamlessly maintaining the integrity of your drywall over the years demands that you take preventive measures. These steps will proactively guard your walls from the damage and wear caused by routine removal of wallpaper. Here are some effective preventive measures that'll help to preserve your drywall's strength and quality even after changing wallpapers.

High-Quality Wallpapers

One of the most impactful measures to prevent future drywall damage is investing in high-quality wallpapers. These tend to adhere to the wall more seamlessly and are easier to remove, reducing the chance of damaging the drywall at removal. Good quality wallpapers leave minimal residue when removed, thereby saving the underlying canvas from potential harm.

Proper Wallpaper Application

Applying the wallpaper correctly can make all the difference between a wall that easily damages and one that remains robust. Ensure that surfaces are clean and well-primed before application. Additionally, use the right type of adhesive for the wallpaper you are installing. Following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter can prevent unwanted damage to your drywall.

Use of Wall Coverings

Wall coverings serve as a protective layer between your wallpaper and your drywall. These act as a buffer, absorbing any damage that might occur during the removal of wallpaper and the wear-and-tear that might take place over time.

Regular Maintenance

Regular monitoring and maintenance are integral to taking preventive care of your drywall. Identify and tackle issues early before they escalate into more extensive damage. Moisture detection, surveillance for mold growth, and monitoring for pest infestation are part of regular maintenance that can prevent serious drywall damage.

Professional Assistance

If you are uncertain about the right protective measures or have troubles with your wallpaper installation, consider hiring a professional. They bring expertise and experience to the table and can ensure that your drywalls are well protected against future damage.

Preemptive Repair

Finally, if you notice any small scratches or blemishes during wallpaper removal, fix them right away. Filling and smoothing the wall surface before new wallpaper is applied can prevent minor issues from turning into major drywall damage.

These preventive measures help maintain the integrity of your drywall and elongate its lifespan. Always ensure to follow these precautions while dealing with wallpapers to maintain a continually fresh and appealing appeal to your home's interior.