How to Fix Drywall After Taking Down Wallpaper

After removing wallpaper, you may notice that your drywall is far from smooth.
This occurs for several reasons. One is that wallpaper sometimes comes apart during removal, leaving paper-backing remnants on your walls. Another reason is that the wallpaper glue remains on the drywall surface. Finally, sometimes wallpaper adheres so strongly to the paper surface of the drywall that its removal causes damage. In this case, you will see brown paper strips lifting away from the drywall. Fortunately, if you carefully deal with each of these three issues in turn, you can restore the integrity of the drywall.

Step 1

Moisten the wall surfaces with a sponge. Use warm water. Do not soak the drywall, as this can potentially damage it.

Step 2

Scrape off any remaining wallpaper backing. Use a flat, plastic tool.

Step 3

Wipe the walls down with a wet sponge to remove all wallpaper glue. Use warm water with a little soap in it. Use your flat, plastic tool if the glue is thick. Replace the water when it gets very cloudy. Allow the walls to dry. Repeat this step until the wet walls are no longer slimy to the touch.

Step 4

Wipe the walls down with clean, fresh water (no soap).

Step 5

Open all windows and doors to ventilate the area.

Step 6

Paint the walls with an oil-based interior home paint. The exact type or brand you use is not important, but it must be oil-based. The paint will collapse most of the bubbles in the drywall surface that form during the wallpaper-removal process. Allow the paint to dry.

Step 7

Examine the walls closely. Look for areas of drywall paper lifting. Cut these out using a utility knife. First, score around the lifting area. Then gently pry the scored section away. Avoid pulling on the lifting drywall paper surface, as this tends to spread the problem.

Step 8

Repaint the scored areas with oil paint. Allow the paint to dry.

Step 9

Fill and cover any noticeable surface damage to the drywall with joint compound. In extreme cases, you may have to coat large areas with successive thin layers of joint compound, allowing adequate drying time between each coat. For this type of project, use a large drywall knife, such as a 10- or 12-inch. Smaller repairs may only require a 5- or 6-inch drywall knife.

Step 10

Sand down the walls with 150-grit sandpaper to give the surfaces a final polish. The walls are now ready for paint.

Things You Will Need

  • Soap or mild detergent
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Flat, plastic scraping tool
  • Oil-based paint
  • Utility knife
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall knife
  • 150-grit sandpaper

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.