I have a 1920s house with plaster walls. It was wallpapered at one point (no idea when) and has accrued maybe 2 or 3 coats of paint since. I'm planning to take the paper down because I can't stand it looking like a painted cardboard box. I have the scoring tool, the purpose-made glue solvent, a pump pressure sprayer, and a little blade. Lead test came back negative using a sample that I cut down the plaster.

  • What should I expect peeling the paper off the wall? Will I possibly rip off chunks of plaster?
  • Once the paper is off, I expect I need to sand the walls to get it smooth, but what grit?
  • Once plaster is exposed, do I mix up a little repair batch of plaster or general patching plaster to skim over any sunken spots or patch any cracks?
  • If the glue is adequately treated with the glue solvent or steam when the only issue would be leftover glue residue. If not then expect the paper to peal in painstakingly small pieces. I doubt the paper is strong enough to pull the plaster if the glue is at full strength. Once you remove the glue residue then assess the wall for whatever needs to be fixed.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


My wife and I completed a project of removing wallpaper from a plaster wall, and then repainting. In our experience, the paper did not come off in big sheets. It was a hassle to remove, coming off in small bits. This may have been because in our case there were three layers of wallpaper. We did not rent a steamer, but if I do a similar job again, I'd probably try that.

Once the wallpaper was all off, the remaining adhesive washed off pretty easily with a sponge and a trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaning solution, leaving the walls smooth and ready for painting.

There were a few spots where the plaster needed patching. We used Durabond joint compound. You could also use topping mud which is a little smoother and shrinks less.

I think it is unlikely that you will rip off chunks of plaster while scraping the wallpaper, or that you'll need significant sanding afterward.

  • This will probably be for a baby's nursery. TSP settles and clears without residue/toxicity correct? Would it be caustic to hardwood floors treated with polyurethane?
    – AdamO
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 18:07
  • @AdamO Especially if you have had a negative test for lead, you might want to choose some alternative to TSP. I imagine there are lots of detergents that would work well. I would suggest covering the floors no matter what you use. There will be a big mess. Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 20:34

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