Today’s Wall Prep – Problem With Sub-Surface

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Uncovered a bit of a problem while stripping off old wallpaper today. The original paperhanger smoothed the walls by troweling on joint compound over the lightly-textured, flat-painted walls. This is all fine – just the way I smooth textured walls, too. However, he failed to prime or seal the joint compound. This means that when I wet the walls with water to soften the paste and remove the old wallpaper, the joint compound also got wet and softened. In places where the seams of the wallpaper put tension (we call it torque) on the seams, the joint compound pulled away from the wall.

In the first photo, I have stripped off the top, colored layer of wallpaper. On the left you see the white substrate, which has been soaked with water, and will soon be removed. On the right, the white substrate has already been removed, and what you see is the tan color of his clay-based paste, on top of the joint compound. The lose area in the center of the photo is where the joint compound has pulled away from the wall.

The next photos show the wall with all wallpaper removed, and the area where the joint compound has left a void. It’s about 3/32″ of an inch deep, and would definitely look horrible under the new wallpaper. Furthermore, you have to worry about the surface continuing to loosen, possibly marring the new wallpaper job.

My solution was to let everything get good and dry. Then I scraped away any loose material (like you see in the last two photos). I then sealed the walls with Gardz, a product that is designed to soak into the wall. It also somewhat binds things together, so hopefully it will hold the joint compound together, and also hold it tight to the painted wall beneath it.

Then I took fresh joint compound (it’s something like plaster), and troweled it over the uneven areas. Once it dries overnight, I will sand the areas smooth, wipe off any dust with a damp sponge, and recoat with Gardz. That should yield a good, stable surface for the new wallpaper.

Note:  In the third photo, the horizontal line at the top is a crack in the Sheetrock, which is a whole ‘nother topic.  🙂

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