Learn how to repair your torn drywall paper the easy way – no joint compound required! Done in just a few hours, your wall will look great with only a few minutes work!
A few weeks back, I installed a door in the entryway of my basement. But when I took off the trim to install the new door, it pulled off a ton of paint and drywall paper.
(Full disclosure: I pulled some off for fun, too.)
I wasn’t all that excited about messing around with joint compound to fix it, so I came up with another method instead. And I’m thrilled with how easy it was!
Ideas and Planning
The main issue with torn drywall paper is that it soaks up paint like a sponge, leading to a different texture once the paint is dry.
So when thinking of a way to fix this, I knew I needed to find a product that hardens the paper so that it won’t soak up as much paint.
That product is Zinsser’s Gardz Problem Surface Sealer. By hardening and sealing the paper, it forms a solid barrier between the paper and the paint. A layer of primer afterwards then preps it for painting.
Note that the sealer does not solve any texture issues. If there are bumps or ridges on your wall from different layers that remain, the surface sealer isn’t really going to smooth those. All it does is prevent paint from soaking into the drywall paper.
If you have bumps to smooth out as well, follow the steps I list below, and then before painting smooth out the surface with joint compound.
So, in summary, to repair torn drywall paper apply a coat of Zinsser’s Gardz Problem Surface Sealer. If an uneven texture remains, smooth with joint patching compound. Prime, then paint as usual.
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Repairing Drywall Paper
Step 1: Sand Wall
I used an old 80 grit piece of sandpaper to smooth down the wall. The idea here was to remove any peeling pieces of drywall paper that would make painting/priming difficult.
After this step, my wall looked exactly the same.
Step 2: Apply Zinsser Gardz
I used a mini foam roller and rolled the sealer onto the wall. Note that the sealer is pretty thin, so have a rag or towel nearby for drips (and lay out a tarp!)
I really only applied the Gardz where there was torn paper. I did not cover the entire wall with the stuff.
Some areas were a little darker after I applied the Gardz, but for the most part the Gardz dries clear and the wall looks exactly the same.
Also – Zinsser Gardz is water-based, so cleanup at this point is a breeze. That is not the case in the next step.
Step 3: Apply Shellac Primer
Every time I use something with a shellac base, I’m shocked at how thin it is. Either way, I once again used a mini-foam roller to apply, keeping a towel nearby for drips.
This time, I covered the entire the wall, since I knew I’d need to prime the rest of it anyway. I only did one coat.
The advantage of a mini-foam roller is that I consider them disposable, so once I was done applying the primer, I threw out the roller. I purchase 4-packs of these at Harbor Freight for around $1.50.
If your tools are not disposable, the shellac primer can be cleaned up with denatured alcohol.
Step 4: Paint the Wall
I painted the entire basement with Behr’s Swiss Coffee, and just included this wall as I went. It took around 6 hours a coat, but I eventually finished!
Repairing torn drywall paper is actually really easy, and not something worth panicking about at all.
I’m really happy with how this turned out, and absolutely thrilled it looks good without breaking out the drywall patching compound!
If you have your own drywall to repair, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!