No, you don’t have to remove that old wallpaper! (Part 1)

I can’t think of a task that would make me run faster from home improvement more than trying to remove old wallpaper.  Yes, there are ways to do it, but with at least two alternatives that can save your sanity and tons of time, I ask why?  I’m going to divide the two methods into two parts.   Part 1 will be “Venetian Plaster”.

Venetian Plaster directly over wallpaper-Before and After

Venetian Plaster can be purchased in a variety of pre-mixed colors from Lowe’s; the tools they also sell for the product are useful.  It is a wonderful product that gives you a warm custom look faux finish once it is done. The beauty of this product is that it is easier than you might think, it covers old wallpaper like a champ and the layers and depth of the finish is entirely within your control. Although slightly pricier than a gallon of paint (around $32) and coverage is half of what a typical gallon would cover, think of it as “time saved” for the investment. I used about 1 and 3/4 gallons for a dining room that is approximately 140  square feet.

Here are the basic steps before covering any wallpaper:

1) Caulk all corners where seams are typically found to ensure they are a smooth transition.  Remove any loose wallpaper by tearing or cutting  it back; don’t worry about the “roughness” of the edges.  If there are bubbles, use a straight edge knife to cut into the bubble and either remove excess with the knife or use some wallpaper glue to stick it back down.

2) If the wallpaper has not been previously painted, it is a good idea to paint it with at least one coat of primer or Kilz.   Don’t worry if your wallpaper has a slight pattern that shows through as the plaster will fill in and conceal that.  The same would not be true for heavier textured papers.  I had a rose garden patterned wallpaper from the 80’s I was dealing with in my dining room…blech!

Applying the Venetian Plaster:

1) I use a  small paint tray and the larger spreader.  Apply the plaster in random strokes and using the tool, spread it out smooth until there are no edges that are raised.  This is the part that I think is fun and great because you really can’t goof; the variety of your strokes will be what gives you the fabulous layered look!   Edges and corners:  line up the edge of the spreader and pull down or away from the edge (you will fill this in easily later) Don’t worry about “show through” from the old wallpaper with the first coat.  Work your way around the room until the walls are complete.  Let it dry before proceeding.

2) Apply the 2nd coat the same way as step 1 with this time, the wallpaper and whatever ugly texture that may have been visible a distant memory. By now you should see how the plaster is building layers of color magically before your eyes without much more effort than your mad spreading strokes.

3) Corners and edges can be filled in with a wet brush dabbed in the plaster.  Also, any stubborn spots can be layered with a small 3rd coat; the plaster builds upon itself as long as you are ensuring the edges are smoothed out.

4) This step is optional (at least try it in a spot and see if you like it…it won’t hurt anything!):  Once finished, take the dry spreader tool and hold it at nearly a 90 degree angle and rub it in random strokes until you have the layers and tone changes you want.

The finish will feel smooth to the touch and remind you of an old piazza from Italy, but the best part……..No more wallpaper!!  Enjoy a glass of Chianti afterward to celebrate your effort.

Using a spreader to apply Venetian Plaster (step 2 and step 4)
Finished appearance of Venetian Plaster over wallpaper


    • Hi Cindy:
      I love the Ralph Lauren line of paints as well. They have great custom look finishes you can achieve yourself, right out of the can.

      As I understand it however, you have already begun the process of tearing off the wallpaper so unfortunately, without some additional preparation, you will not be able to simply use the Ralph Lauren Suede paint right out of the can. This paint assumes you have a prepared surface and I imagine with torn wallpaper, you have “rough spots” of old paper remaining in place that will not provide a smooth finish under your paint.

      Since you mentioned the Venetian plaster, you would not have to further remove the remaining wallpaper should this be the route you want to take since the plaster is a thick multi-coated product that will hide any imperfections.

      However, if your heart is set on the Suede, you have two options:
      1) finish removal of the wallpaper to get back to a smooth wall; or
      2) use the techniques I discuss here.

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