Getting ready to buy for the first time and so I'm trying to prepare myself for renovation projects. I'm mostly looking at old Scottish Victorian tenement flats.

The one I viewed earlier today is a second one where all the walls are covered by a semi-gloss beige paint spread over some kind of strips stuck to the wall. You can tell the places where one strip joins with the next, in some places they come off a bit (see the photo). There are also places where the wall isn't smooth i.e. there are lines and patches of wall being indented or protruding a few millimetres in contrast with the surrounding surface.

Needless to say, I'd probably want to make the walls nicer, but I have a few questions:

  • Presumably I'd need to remove the wallpaper-like thing from the walls. What kind of treatment would the walls need after that and before I apply a new paint or wallpaper? Would I need to re-plaster? I know that sometimes it's a game of chance but in general how common it is to mess up the underlying lime plaster when redoing the wall surfaces?
  • Is the only way to get rid of the unevenness of the walls re-plastering?


Line between the wall strips joining and the surface of the glossy paint-over

3 Answers 3


You won't need to re-plaster regardless. If anything, a light skim coat will flatten things out after paper removal.

My approach would be to peel and scrape away as much of the paper as is practical using common techniques--putty knives, steam, paper adhesive solvent. Once that's done and the wall has dried, seal it with a good primer to lock down all the paper fibers. Now skim with joint compound and texture if desired. Prime again and paint.

I would not add wallboard. That creates problems with drim, door jambs, etc.


To me that looks like a tape line (unless there are multiples evenly spaced). Getting rid of lines is tough, I have seen diy patch repairs that would have been perfect but they taped outside the area to block any overspray with the cans of spray texture so there were lines.

In this case my advice would be to sand down the line get rid of the ridge. Then retexture. If these lines are on ~4’ spaces it may be the tape that hides the seams in the wallboard (sheetrock) coming loose, or possible cracking from the property being vacant and un heated for a while this can cause cracks at tape lines.

Hiding cracks can be difficult, sanding then using a spray texture and blending it will look worse until painted. But you can hide cracks without a large investment, just a little elbow grease sandpaper texture and paint.

  • There are multiple ones of them and evenly spaced by about 70cm so I think it is a wallpaper. Also in that place I could actually poke it as it was kinda detatched from the wall and see two distinct layers move independently.
    – KubaFYI
    Feb 15, 2021 at 16:30
  • If it is wallpaper that is lifting steaming off can be done, but this is a pain. With a commercial steamer it still takes time, I was think the strips were the tape more than wall paper but 70cm is a strange spacing. So it may be wallpaper. I don’t like overlays as they require all the receptacles, switches and ceiling boxes to have extensions. So if it is wall paper, the choices are steaming, overlay, or complete replacement. I have not seen glue white glue injected under the edge of paper do well but have heard of it working.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 15, 2021 at 16:58

Looks like pretty normal "someone decided to paint over wallpaper" - not anything all that unusual or special - but a right pain to fix.

If you can stand the loss of interior space from the extra thickness, wallboard/drywall right over that is generally less work than getting it off the wall, much less getting the wall covered in wallpaper paste ready to take paint reasonably. You get a new, smooth, reasonably flat paintable surface with comparatively minimal effort.

If considering purchase, price your offer on the assumption that you'll have to replaster.

  • I was under the impression that wallboard/drywall solutions should be avoided in Victorian tenements because of the kind of breathing the walls require to not get damp and moldy?
    – KubaFYI
    Feb 15, 2021 at 16:29
  • 1
    A skim coat isn't anything like re-plastering. Let's be clear about that.
    – isherwood
    Feb 15, 2021 at 19:21

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