We are renovating our new house at the moment in the UK which is circa 120 years old. One room has wallpaper on it which we want to remove and then prep and paint the wall.

Upon peeling some wallpaper away (which has binded rather firmly we notice a fairly course feeling plaster behind it.

What type of plaster is this, how can we best remove the wallpaper and how do we prep it for a smooth finish to paint?

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    As the answers indicate , this is not a trivial job. I have an acquaintance who makes a very good living doing plaster work for upscale hotels who want new plaster work to match original construction and very few people can do this work. Nov 14, 2020 at 17:51
  • Thank you, would you happen to know what plaster type this is?
    – AWGIS
    Nov 16, 2020 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


I would say that the best way to get a nice smooth surface to the entire wall (after removing the wallpaper, naturally) would be to plaster skim-coat the entire surface. This type of job requires some skill and a novice would benefit from practice. Another (less optimal) option would be to sand it as smooth as you can and touch up the roughest areas with plaster. Pros use bright lights at an oblique angle to highlight uneven areas, for situations where the flattest/smoothest surface is important. In this situation, either method calls for a complete prime coat prior to paint.

For removing the wallpaper, there are specialty tools and products to make it easier, e.g. scoring tools to perforate the paper, chemicals to help loosen the glue, sprayers to soak the paper, special scrapers, etc.

Since you obviously have internet access, I recommend that you watch some video tutorials for skim coat, plaster repair, and wallpaper removal. This will help you understand the options you have, the steps involved and the equipment and materials needed to do it right.

P.S.- the type of plaster that you have now is not terribly important...

  • Do I not need to know the type of plaster as I don't want to skim over a lime plaster wall with modern gypsum plaster?
    – AWGIS
    Nov 16, 2020 at 17:09
  • I don't live in an area where lime plaster is common, but from what I understand you certainly can use a gypsum plaster over lime. The supposed benefit of lime plaster is that it allows the walls to "breath", thereby preventing dampness. In the modern era of air conditioning (dehumidification) and use of many windows, and watertight exterior membranes, and proper roofing materials, I doubt it would be an issue especially since you're not skimming the entire interior, just one area. Nov 17, 2020 at 1:06

There are mixtures that are available to aid in the removal of wall paper. The steps typically are, perforate the wallpaper with a tool designed to do so. Spray the mixture and let it soak into the holes created by the tool. scrape off the wallpaper. This is a simplification, there may be another step or 2 to do, but this gets the idea across. Another way is to rent a wallpaper steamer. this will loosen the wallpaper too, making it easier to remove.

After the wallpaper is gone than the walls cleaned of any residue, you may need to have the walls skimmed with drywall joint compound. In the states it is called a "level 5 finish". Its process covers the whole surface with joint compound and is sanded to smooth the wall. This is typically done by pros, since it is an acquired "feel" to do this.

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