Woodchip wallpaper – take it (off) or leave it?

Woodchip wallpaper – what is it?

Woodchip wallpaper is a type of decorating material consisting of two layers of paper with wood fibres in between. Different kinds of ingrain (wood-chip) wallpaper are distinguished by the size and form of the fibre pieces.

It became very popular in Germany in the 1920’s as a decorating wallpaper. In the UK it was a common product to use in the 1960’s and 70’s as it was a perfect disguise for uneven walls or plaster imperfections.

 

Take it (off) or leave it!

When it comes to woodchip you have two options: take it off or leave it!

There seems to be a stigma surrounding the woodchip. It’s one of the things likely to put off a buyer from purchasing a property where more than one-third of the buyers find it unattractive. Woodchip is deemed as dated and possibly the one hiding potential problems but so could any other wallpaper. Personally I’m not that bothered or phased by it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear not! It’s not THAT bad! … but it’s going to get messy!

The common assumption is that woodchip is super hard to remove. Sure, it is easier to remove a standard wallpaper but if I can win a few battles with the woodchip, so can you!

Here is how to do it:

  1. Before starting to remove the woodchip wallpaper you will need to cover the floors / furniture as it’s going to get messy.

2. Before attacking the woodchip with the wallpaper stripper, you might find that on touch you will feel the pockets of air underneath – where the wallpaper is not glued to the wall anymore. Find the edges – it’s usually the easiest around the sockets or by the coving, skirting boards, and windowsills. With a stanley knife gently lift up the edges and using a scraping knife slide it under the woodchip wallpaper and pull it off gently. You might just find that lifting it is easier than you think. This method won’t allow you to remove all the woodchip but it is an easy start.

3. Score the wallpaper with a scoring tool. This will help the steam or liquid to penetrate the woodchip wallpaper and remove it easier. You just run the tool all over wallpaper without the need to apply to much pressure.

Zinser Paper Tiger scoring tool works great and costs just under £12. (picture credit: Screwfix)

Scoring the wallpaper with a stanley knife is a common mistake and a bad idea, (Been there, done that…) as it’s likely to cut through the wallpaper and damage the wall underneath.

 

  1. Bring out the big guns aka wallpaper stripper! And here you have a choice of two:
  • Steam Wallpaper Stripper  (picture credit: Screwfix) is an electric machine which produces steam to remove the wallpaper. It’s super easy to use and a good investment if you plan to strip wallpapers throughout the house. It costs around £25-£30. It’s actually cost effective to buy the steam wallpaper stripper than to hire one as hire is usually around £18 per day. Having your own machine means you can use it whenever you feel like it.

 

  • Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate is an enzymatic liquid which you apply on the wallpaper. It dissolves the glue and then most of the job is done by gravity where the wallpaper just falls off the walls. It’s making it easy to remove.

Zinsser DIF Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate works well and it costs around £6 per 1 litre where approximately 1.5 l will strip a 4×4 m  room.

Which one is better?

Both methods have their pros and cons but personally I prefer the steam wall stripper machine as in my experience the wallpaper comes off in bigger pieces and it’s easier to scrape off. Yes, it’s more messy as you have a lot of moisture in the room (work with open windows), you do use more electricity and will need to re-fill the machine with water but it’s pretty much an instant effect and you just work area by area.

When it comes to the enzymatic stripper liquid it works better to soak the wallpaper overnight where you might repeat the spraying a few times over in between. For me in one of the rooms gravity did most of the job taking alot of the wallpaper down, in the other room there was a lot of elbow grease and scraping involved… having said that, it’s a cheaper method if you just have one room to do and you might just start with this and if you are not a fan, move on to the steam stripper.

You will need a stripping knife (picture credit: Screwfix) for both methods (always have a spare one – I tend to break this tool now and then).

  1. Once your woodchip wallpaper is off, wash down the walls with a sponge and some warm water to remove any remaining wallpaper glue and dirt. Let the walls dry overnight.

 

  1. Paint or wallpaper – which option are you going for? When wallpapering over you can get away with not fixing the walls. Otherwise you will need to fix the holes, cracks, small chunks of missing plaster and apply undercoat in preparation for painting.

See here how to fix the walls yourself and save loads of £££ on not using the plasterers and going for DIY: http://lusheclectic.com/dining-room-diy-renovation-part-1/

How about leaving it?

If your walls are in a good condition and you can’t see the edges of the woodchip wallpaper coming off you might just want to leave it and paint over. That’s what I’ve done in my living room and it’s the last room in the whole house that still has the woodchip. I’m not that bothered at the moment as I still have a new floor and new fireplace ahead of me so this job will have to wait for now. We painted the living room when we move in and it looks good. You can barely notice the woodchip and the contrast in colours of the walls draws the eye away from texture of the wall. When choosing a paint to go over the woodchip, go for the matt one rather than satin.

There are also bark effect wallpapers designed to cover up the wood chip but I haven’t tried them and I don’t really see the point of covering one texture with another + you are risking that it will come off all together.

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6 thoughts on “Woodchip wallpaper – take it (off) or leave it?

  1. I had professionally done downstairs on my house but still upstairs to go so I think I will attempt to remove it myself this weekend and see how it goes. It would be nice to save some money for a new sofas ?

  2. I’ve never heard of wallpaper scorer! Don’t even ask where I’ve been hiding 😉 but I’ve never come across this tool and always been getting a bit frustrated with Stanley knife cuts in the plaster. Another good article from this website! Great tips 👍

    1. I’ve only come across this tool few years back, where before, just like you I was using stanley knife for scoring old wallpaper and I was ending up with cuts into plaster. I’m glad you found my tips useful.

    1. It is a messy job and you just done up your living room so try not to look up 😉 Strangely enough I don’t hate it that much but still one room left with it…(bracing myself for tackling this in Summer/ Autumn)

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