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I spent a large proportion of a (glorious) Sunday stripping a relatively small area of woodchip wallpaper from my spare room in an ongoing war to banish the stuff from my house.

I have a good steamer which is helping matters along, but due to five layers of paint and the fact that paper is very waterproof its not been easy.

Does anyone have any tips on ways in which this process can be sped along? We're having the whole room skimmed when I'm done, so I'm unconcerned about the state of the plaster behind when I'm done. It's already in quite a mess anyway, hence the skimming!

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Unfortunately stripping woodchip can be a long, arduous process.

The way we've found best is to

  • work in small(ish) areas
  • score the area with a knife
  • run a scraper across the surface to knock out some of the chips

The last two expose some of the paper and give a route for the steam to enter.

Then steam this area and scrape again - but don't expect to get all the paper off first (or even second) time. Then steam the area again but don't scrape - leave the area to soak as you move onto the next area.

Then go back to the first area after 5-10 minutes and repeat.

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Thanks Chris. Shame! I've now got a 4x3metre area of ceiling to do :-( – James Wiseman Apr 18 '11 at 10:38
They also make tools for scoring wallpaper that may work better than a knife (though I'm not sure how well they'd do with woodchip wallpaper). I've used one similar to this and it helped get lots of small holes into the paper for the steam to penetrate: amazon.com/Zinsser-2966-PaperTiger-Scoring-Wallpaper/dp/… – BMitch Aug 14 '13 at 16:29
Followed this approach last weekend and got through 3 rooms in a day! Admittedly that was with 3 people and 3 steamers on the go, but it all went pretty smoothly! – x3ja Aug 24 '13 at 22:33

I am attacking my woodchip coated walls with a powered multi tool fitted with a scraper. This takes the painted layer off the woodchip in satisfying strips. When this is complete, stage 2 is to use sponge to wet the paper, leave to soak or use a steamer stripper to wet the paper and scrape away.

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Now, wait a minute! Why would anyone ever want to get rid of woodchips? This feels like a personal attack on me. (Only kidding.)

Seriously, I would start with my carpenter's slick.

an old slick, in need of tender care

A slick is a LARGE, heavy chisel, perhaps 4 inches wide, weighing in at least 5 pounds with the cherry handle I made for it. It is close to 3 feet long with that handle, with a blade that is perhaps 3/8 inch thick. You can find them in old tool sales for a reasonable price.

The nice thing about a slick is it has some serious mass behind it. So despite seeming a large cumbersome thing, you can use it with the bevel riding against a wall, and it would probably glide right through those woodchips and peel off a strip of paper. That mass allows for a surprising degree of precision in getting a smooth result. I've used it to peel up flooring once and it did a very nice job.

And, when I was all done, I would give the slick some loving attention, and touch up any nicks I've left in the blade.

If this did not work, I'd go pick up my angle grinder.

enter image description here

Skim over the surface of the paper lightly, using a structured carbide disk that will cut through and carve wood like butter. With a gentle touch, I'll bet you could do this without even giong into the plaster underneath. Wear a dust mask though. Having done that in strips, the steamer will now have an easy avenue to get under the paper. So much for woodchips. :(

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Angle-grider! Brilliant! I'm sure there's a saying about sledgehammer and cracking nuts, but as it turns out, the woodchip is a pretty tough nut! Cheers. – James Wiseman Apr 18 '11 at 10:41

The two best and easy ways are either:

  • take the plasterboard off the stud work and put new boards up, or
  • screw new boards over the top and on the external walls stick new board over the top with dry wall adhesive.

A lot of time saved and you don't lose much room space.

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