OK I have a hidden agenda posting this right now. Was checking the sites logs and had a hit from Google for “how to strip woodchip” and another for “removal of woodchip wallpaper”, so checked the SERPs in Google and this site is number 1 and 10ish for the two SERPs :-) By posting this post about woodchip wallpaper we should keep those SERPs long term (that’s the theory anyway).
I guess the poor people searching for a way to strip woodchip wallpaper didn’t find the site too helpful, so I’m hoping a combination of our hard earned knowledge and maybe someone kind enough to comment on how to do it without replastering will step up (hint, hint :-))
The house we are renovating has a fair amount of woodchip wallpaper, it’s a 4 storey house (with high ceilings) so it has at least the equivalent of a 3 bedroom house worth of woodchip wall paper to remove!
We started the job completely unprepared in what we are calling the Blue Room (it has a lot of blue paint, so the blue room). The plan was for the wife and kids to strip the wallpaper, but they caught me off guard and visited the house a few days earlier than I’d estimated. So I hadn’t bought any tools for wallpaper removal, I had some trowel like scrapers somewhere, but couldn’t find them (still not found them now).
So I popped around to Jewson’s in Skegness and bought some quite expensive (£10 each!) wallpaper scrapers. In hindsight they are the sort of scrapers that are better suited to filling small nail holes in walls than wall paper stripping, but these are the sort of scrapers I recall my Mum using for wallpaper removal years ago so assumed they are right for the job (they aren’t!!). Also bought a couple of sponges (that haven’t been used yet) and we had a garden water sprayer at the house already.
We started by scratching the wallpaper with wire brushes, Jewsons didn’t have the proper wallpaper scorers so we improvised. We then sprayed and rolled (used an old paint roller with water instead of paint) water onto the scratched paper.
As it happens the room we started in has the hardest woodchip wallpaper to remove in the house (typical or what!!!), but one wall had standard flat wallpaper and after scratching and wetting it came off quite easily. The woodchip though had been painted with vinyl silk paint, so wasn’t absorbing much water.
We all took a crack at those walls (two adults and three kids), but progress was REALLY SLOW. By the time we left we’d not finished one woodchip wall!
The following day we visited B&Q in Grimsby which has a much better range of products than Jewson’s in Skegness. We bought a couple more of the scrapers, though this time not expensive, a proper wallpaper scorer and some sharp wallpaper scrapers with 6″ blades. We also bought a wallpaper steamer, but it didn’t work at all (no heat, so must have been broken so got a refund).
The sharp wallpaper scrapers are no comparison to the blunt ones we first tried, the sharp ones (costs less than £5 each from B&Q) which is basically a T shaped tool with the top being a 6″ sharp blade (that’s replaceable, with new blades costing just over £1 each) and the shaft of the T a long handle.
With little elbow grease you can strip almost any textured wallpaper to the backing paper, (it’s not so good on flat wallpaper though) so the face of the woodchip is easily removed leaving just bits of flatish (woodchip free) paper backing stuck to the wall. In some areas it all came off, but where it was stuck down well, had we tried to remove it we’d have damaged the plaster.
So far we’ve removed around 80% of the woodchip facing and around 30% of the backing. This was without the use of water or a steamer. We are in two minds what to do next, we could use water/steam since the paint free wallpaper backing will easily absorb water now and so shouldn’t be too difficult to remove.
However since the house is over one hundred years old the plaster finish has seen better days, so unless we plan to re skim a lot of the walls the finish will be low quality. We are considering leaving the paper backing as it is (tidy it a little of course) and add thick lining paper over it which we can paint. I’ve never used lining paper before, so not sure how forgiving it is?
If that doesn’t work if we want a good finish I’ll have to re skim the walls (I’ve never plastered before either, but really want to learn).
If anyone has any thoughts on this please comment.
Another alternative is to plasterboard over most of the walls. Plasterboard isn’t very expensive and we’d get a smooth finish. I know it means repositioning light sockets and the skirting boards (considering replacing those anyway) so more work, but I want this to be a quality job (plan to live there).
Update: We took a crack at removing the remaining backing from the woodchip wallpaper left over by those sharp scraper using the wet and scrape technique. We had an entire room (living room) with high ceilings to do and it took about 5 hours for the two of us!! Basic proceedure was wet the walls a few times and scrape with the sharp scrapers. It was far from easy work and as I’m the tallest (Cameron is short for a 14 year old, so couldn’t do a high ceiling wall) I had to do all the high parts. By the end of the day my shoulders where burning!!