While doing some work in my bathroom, one thing led to another and paint started peeling. I found that under many layers of paint was some wallpaper so it seemed natural to pull...

I started peeling it off like crazy, in huge pieces before I realized that what was left behind was not so nice: drywall with its paper peeled off.

It looks like part of the drywall's paper has come off, leaving a rough, fuzzy, roughish surface (that's about 1ft2).

Question: how do I fix this? I might be able to scrape/sand it down smooth enough to paint...maybe.

Another option is to hang some wallpaper.

I do not want to go down to the studs and hang new drywall.


I said I didn't want to go down to the studs...but that's what I ended up doing. It was not as hard as I expected but did add a lot of time and cost to the project. I couldn't have done it without YouTube :).

  • The image you uploaded for this question appears to have disappeared. Do you still have the original to reupload?
    – ChrisF
    Dec 7, 2011 at 16:08
  • @ChrisF sorry, I don't think so Dec 7, 2011 at 17:21

5 Answers 5


I don't think sanding the surface will produce a surface good enough to paint. It's certainly a lot of effort for uncertain results.

If the underlying surface is very rough it might still show through the wall paper, unless it's very thick (1000 gsm lining paper for example) or you do some sanding.

The best answer might be to continue to peel off the paper and then skim the wall with plaster. Depending on your plastering skills you might want to get a professional in.

The result should be good enough to paint.


Short of replacing the drywall, you can do a skim coat as others have suggested. However, be careful - if you do too thick of a coat, the paper will absorb too much moisture and will bubble underneath the mud/plaster. You'll then have to sand it down, cut out the bubbled section, and skim again. Trust me, I've done this and dealt with that exact problem. Just use a thin coat, sand it smooth, and if necessary add another coat. You can then texture, prime, and paint.


Primer/paint will not work. It will be lower than the surrounding surface. It will not "fill in" (I've tried).

Try a skim coat of joint compound over the affected area to get it level. If it doesn't work, you'll have to replace the drywall.

Good luck!


In reality the brownish inner layer of drywall paper is very absorbent of water and also comes off in chunks if you try to sand, so never sand or apply water based material over it. If you sand you will still have similar problem of fluffy brown paper to deal with and it will be deeper than surrounding areas. If you apply joint compound, as some have suggested directly over the peeled untreated paper you will get swelling and bubbles all over and have a mess.

The proper repair is as follows:

  1. Trim all edges of the affected area with a sharp razor knife to clear all loose and peeling paper.
  2. Use an oil based sealer to thoroughly cover the exposed paper surfaces. You may use more than one coat if needed, including the edges.
  3. Once dried use drywall mud to apply thin layers as needed, sanding between layers as normal.
  4. Then prime and paint as for any other drywall surface.

If you don't want to go the plaster route (per ChrisF), you could try painting a thick coat or two of primer (which should, in theory, absorb a bit into and stabilize the surface), then sand that a bit before another coat of primer and then paint over it.

If you just try to sand what you've got, you'll never see the end - that's just not going to go smooth no matter how much you sand. You've got to effectively 'glue down' the surface bit. Plaster would definitely work, but I think primer might do OK too.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.