You never know what’s hiding below.
What is woodchip wallpaper?
Woodchip wallpaper, also called ingrain wallpaper, is just two layers of thin paper with woodchips in between. Being so thin, it absorbs the paste used to hang it and becomes one with the wall, therefore making it very difficult to remove. Ironically, it’s also not the easiest to hang without ripping or wrinkling it. It’s the lowest quality of wallpaper and it gives wallpaper a bad rap that it doesn’t deserve.
It was invented in Germany in the early 20th century and was originally used in shop windows. Today it is still the most common type of wallcovering in Germany and still extremely common in the UK. Its use is mostly propagated by cheap landlords who want to cover up imperfections with something relatively neutral and economical. It is cheap as chips – woodchips that is.
On the left is woodchip wallpaper and on the right is what it will look like to put wallpaper over it without a liner. Not bad, eh?
What to expect when removing woodchip wallpaper
If you own the space and have an interest in not taking shortcuts, then removing your woodchip wallpaper is definitely recommended. Just know that this job will take time and patience, and also that no other wallpaper is as difficult to remove. If you have the money, consider hiring a professional to do it for you.
Should you decide to take on the task by yourself, you will become an archeologist, digging up the past layers of paper and paint. Painted woodchip wallpaper will not come off in strips, but rather, only tiny pieces. We recommend renting some professional tools like a wallpaper removal specific steaming kit. Ideally, don’t use a metal scraper because this can more easily damage the wall below. If the wallpaper is really putting up a fight, try a nail roller over it; this will poke small holes to better let the steam penetrate but also runs the risk of poking little holes all over the actual wall if you’re not careful. In the end, you will most likely have a few things to spackle over (this only takes a few minutes), and when all of this hard work is said and done, you’ll have a fresh wall ready for repapering!
Thick structured wallpapers with wall liner beneath can hide bumps from woodchip wallpaper. Ask about this wallpaper here
The wallpapering-over option
If you are renting or simply don’t have the time or patience to remove the old woodchip wallpaper, simply wallpapering over is a valid option as well. This can be done but of course, one should temper their expectations as the chosen wallpaper might not erase all evidence of the bumpy woodchip wallpaper below. It’s all about your expectations.
Here in Berlin, the city is unfortunately covered in woodchip wallpaper. After some of our Tapeto staff spent so much time with woodchip wallpaper removal and spackling in their kitchen, even they opted to just wallpaper over it in their other rooms. In one room, they even hung a mural, and while you can still feel bumps, they find that the way the mural draws your eye in, completely distracts you from any perception of bumps. Three years later, the new wallpaper is standing strong and brightening their lives at home every day.
Another strategy is to embrace the bumps by choosing a wallpaper that will look even better with a bumpy texture. For instance, a wallpaper that looks like brick wall or a marble stone face could actually benefit from some real bumps!
If you are really concerned with hiding the bumps as best as possible, the trick is to first hang a wall liner as this will do a bulk of the smoothing. Then, when picking a wallpaper, go for thick structured or textured wallpapers; these will hide the bumps best. Darker colors will also disguise the tiny shadows from any bumps making them invisible.
For more tips and tricks on dealing with imperfect walls, check out our article ‘Can I Wallpaper my Uneven Walls?’.
Cover bumps with a marble wallpaper mural that will look even more convincing with some texture.
- Woodchip wallpaper (ingrain wallpaper) is only popular because of how cheap it is
- Woodchip wallpaper is extremely difficult to remove; it only comes off in tiny bits
- Most often, woodchip wallpaper is used to cover problem walls
- Consider hiring a professional to help or at least, get your hands on some professional tools
- Woodchip wallpaper bumps can mostly be covered by wall liner and a thick structured wallpaper – dare to wallpaper it over.
- Anything is better than woodchip wallpaper!
Would you remove the old woodchip wallpaper or just wallpaper over it? Let us know in the comments below!