Distinguishing Between Drywall Paper and Wallpaper Backing

I have one bedroom wall that has something with a white facing paper and a smooth backing of tan-ish brown that is also brittle and thin. There are also visible seams like drywall boards or poorly hung wallpaper. Beneath this a textured concrete wall. The other three walls have a small curd bumpy texture.


In the living room we also have the same wall textures; one being trowel, with a brick fireplace, the other three being small bumps. I removed two layers of printed wall paper from the troweled wall in the living room and painted over that with several coats of a latex semigloss paint with good results; the other three walls were painted in a contrasting color.

So, given the similarities, how do I tell the difference between drywall paper and wallpaper backings? Please help!

By T.R from C, NC

July 27, 20110 found this helpful

Hi T.R,

It sounds like wallpaper to me. Because the paper covering drywall is typically not thin or brittle. It has some depth, strength and layer to it. When you remove it is the chalky white filler that crumbles used in drywall there? Usually when you strip old wallpaper it has a hue between a dingy darker yellow to a coffee stain color on the back. Depending on how old it is it may or may not still have some of the paste feel to it-kinda slimy when wet.

It could have been painted over. I came across that in the last house I bought. When I went to paint I realized they had multiple layers of paint over layers of wallpaper. Frustrating, it took a good two weeks to complete one room. After that I gave up and added another layer of paint just like they did.

Hope this helps. Kathei

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July 29, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you so much Kathei! I went and checked after reading your answer and what I saw was what looked like blotches of white on the wall proper that came off on my finger when I rubbed it but didn't flake. It almost looks as though there might have been drywall at one time. It's the only thing I can think of that would leave splotches like that. Like you, my first thought was old wallpaper, though I was able to peel some of the backing away, it was very thin w/o body and I didn't see any sign of print on what I had. After doing some reading, I learned that drywall backing is fuzzy, like a brown paper bag might be when torn, and needs to be sanded down before doing anything. There is nothing fuzzy here! Also the seems are placed about two and a half feet apart like wallpaper would be. I have no idea about the width(s) of drywall.The backing of this is a coffee stain color with a slight sticky feel when moistened. Beneath this (and the white splotches), is a gray concrete. Now I am wondering if I need to do something about these splotches before I do any painting; I don't want the paint or primer coming of with the stuff that rubs off.any ideas or suggestions from you or anyone else would be appreciated. Thank you again Kathei.-T.R

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