Best Way to Remove Woodchip Wallpaper
By Mike Cupit
I have been a professional decorator for 16 years now and I’ve come up against woodchip wallpaper many times over my career. Funnily enough I have only ever been asked to hang it once, but removing it is something that gets asked of me regularly. So, what is the best way to remove woodchip wallpaper?
I can tell you right now before we get into it, removing woodchip is an absolute nightmare!! God knows what we were all thinking in the 80’s but it looks horrendous. There are a few tips and tricks to make removing the stuff easier and quicker for you. I’ll do my best to explain them.
The idea is simple, you need to allow water to get to the paste on the wall and dissolve it, so you essentially damage the surface of your woodchip. You could score it with a knife, run a scraper over it to remove some of the wood chips or use an actual perforator (pictured). Either way and regardless of whether you intend to use water or a steamer, this is an important step.
Keep it Clean
Woodchip wallpaper may be difficult to remove, but once off the wall it turns to mush. Covering your floor with dust sheets alone will not prevent you from making a mass. You’ll ruin your dust sheets for a start!! But you’ll also walk that mush into other areas of your home, which will then dry, set and stick to anything it touches. My advice is to get some old wallpaper or cheap lining paper and roll it out along the wall you’re working on. Get into the habit of throwing every scraper full of woodchip against the wall so it falls onto this paper. Always work on one wall at a time, then once you’ve finished that wall you can simply roll up the wallpaper or lining paper and dispose of it all in one go.
You can also use tape and drape plastic sheeting. The plus point of tape and drape is you can stick it to your skirting board, so you know water isn’t going to run off the wall onto your floor. The downside is you’re sending extra plastic waste to landfill.
Let the Water do the Work
The next step is to soak your woodchip wallpaper. Use hot water and add a little bit of washing up liquid before you start. This will slow the runoff of water from woodchip to floor and allow more time for water to soak into the paper. Better still, use some DIF Wallpaper remover. DIF will do everything washing up liquid will do, plus dissolve the wallpaper paste quicker.
You can apply the water with a paintbrush, a roller, a garden sprayer, or if you can get hold of one, an airless spray machine. Don’t bother dabbing your woodchip wallpaper with a damp sponge. That will have the same effect as tickling a grizzly bear, you’re not going to get anywhere with half measures!!
The most important line of the whole blog is coming up folks…. The best way to remove woodchip wallpaper is to LET THE WATER DO THE WORK!! Perforate then soak your wall, have a brew and wait 10 minutes, soak the wall again, wait a few minutes, soak the wall again, then try to remove your paper. If it isn’t coming off very easily, get some more water on it and wait till the paper is easy to shift. Even when you’re working on removing your woodchip wallpaper, soak the wall every 10 minutes. If in total you spend an extra half an hour soaking walls, you’ll probably save 3 hours fighting stubborn paper. Soak, soak, soak and soak again!!
I have left this topic till the end because although a steamer can be useful to remove woodchip wallpaper, you need to take all the other steps as well. Perforate and soak your wall, then if you are still struggling, get your steamer on the go. A steamer will force moisture through your woodchip at a high temperature and melt the glue. On its own a steamer will be fairly ineffective on woodchip, but if the wall is well soaked then you’re laughing.
It helps to have the proper gear. You can get a lot of what you need from your local DIY shop, but if you want an online shop the trade use, check out My Paintbrush. You’ll find a wide range of scrapers, a perforators, Zinsser DIF and tape and drape. The discount code at the checkout is DF8
An excellent article by Mike full of useful tips.
I’d like to share with you my technique for stripping the dreaded woodchip or most other wall papers for that matter.
A great guide (Apologies in advance that it may appear to be “War & Peace”) with handy hints & tips.
First off, I start with boiling a couple of 2L household kettles, make a quick coffee & then use the remaining 4L of water to fill my steamer, accelerating the steamer boil time & whilst it’s reaching boiling point I start working on the paper whilst it’s dry.
I set up the steamer angling it’s head upward further along the wall from my starting point, so that I can maximise time etc & then situate my 5 Gallon Purdy skuttle (lined with a black bag) directly below the point of the wall or ceiling I’m working on.
I like to start by attacking it dry with a six-inch jointing knife. Simply use the corner tip of the knife to get into & under the top layer of the paper which has generally had several coats of paint over the years.
Steer the rest of the knife under the top layer of paper in an even manner attempting to get the full width of the paper if possible & you’ll usually find that once you’re in & under that the paper will come off in swathes, especially if it’s been painted multiple times as it’ll be quite stiff & rigid.
At this point you can grip the top of the sheet or multiple layers & simply peel off the wall in large sections revealing the backing paper or even better the substrate itself. From this point forward I then proceed to strip the remnants & old adhesive from the wall using the steamer, works a treat every time, especially on old lath & plaster walls, ya just need to be a little more delicate when working on plasterboard walls.
Hope you find it useful, all the best, cheers Al 😉
Best Way to Remove Woodchip Wallpaper