How do I remove old crusty adhesive from a wall?

by Wendy

This is what’s left after cork tiles were removed from a wall put on about 30 years ago. Rough, thin, hard surface. If I can’t take it off, is it best to resurface with sparkle or just cover with paneling or bead board?thank you,Wendy

  13 answers
    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 03, 2019

      Thank you this was interesting reading. I’ll have to see if it is able to help me identify my adhesive. But I was happy to read that the mastic left in the kitchen after removing the old tiles will come off with water! That will make that chore way easier.

      Thank you for you interest and help.


  • Em Em on Dec 02, 2019

    I would cover with bead board or new dry wall. Personally I love the look of bead board but may look odd unless you tie it in with something like a focal point like a chair and lamp. Put drywall (you can buy it thin since it is only a cover) if nothing else in the room doesn't go with it. You could possibly spackle over it with a cross hatch pattern, but that is pretty time consuming. You just load up a 4" putty blade and smear the spackling compound in all directions with about a 10" stroke. It goes on easily and has a great Tuscan feel when it is painted. Doesn't look like you are going to get that mess off any time in this century.

    • See 1 previous
    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 03, 2019

      You have some great ideas here thank you for taking the time to help a newbie to these kinds of home repair issues.

      Thank you,


  • Hi, Wendy!

    I agree with using beadboard or paneling... It will be a lot less work plus, the paneling also comes in brick or reclaimed wood patterns! I hope this helps!

  • Jaynie Jaynie on Dec 02, 2019

    I bought a 90 year old house and had a similar problem in the kitchen after we demo-ed. We put in new electric and then put up 1/4-inch dry wall. You would never know the difference after priming and painting. We glued and screwed the drywall into place. Good luck!

    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 03, 2019

      This house is 90 years or so. I’m liking the idea of a drywall or paneling cover-up more and more.



  • Wow, yeah, you might be best off covering over it with a panel product of some sort.

  • Columbia GB Columbia GB on Dec 02, 2019

    Take Dana's new reciprocating saw to that mess. Put up new drywall.

    • See 1 previous
    • Jaynie Jaynie on Dec 03, 2019

      My brother warned me, but I didn't know until it happened. Be careful about taking walls down to open something up or etc.... because you have no idea what kind of a can of worms you might find underneath. LOL Good luck on your remodel. And remember, it always costs more than you think and it always takes longer than you think.

  • William William on Dec 02, 2019

    Resurfacing with drywall compound probably wouldn't work. It would more likely flake off and trying to get a smooth surface is not easy. That adhesive would too hard to remove without damaging the wall. Covering with bead board or paneling would be the easiest. Personally I would demo the wall, insulate, and hang new drywall.

    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 03, 2019

      Demo is a no go since it is sheet rock. But the advice to cover with paneling or drywall sounds like it will do the trick.



  • William William on Dec 03, 2019

    Sheet Rock is Drywall. Just by another name.

    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 04, 2019

      Yeah, that’s what I thought until we took out a wall in this 80 year old house. Sheetrock is a cement type material, took a lot of my husband’s energy for 3 days! Evidently as drywall became the major building material the names became interchangeable. But NO, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!


  • Heje Heje on Dec 03, 2019

    It might chip off if done lightly with a hammer but some of the wall board paper will come with it. So, it would be better to go to shiplap, thin wall board, or bead board or even do a board and batten type wall.

  • Mom2K9 Mom2K9 on Dec 04, 2019

    Sorry my comment is late to the game, but seriously cover it up. There might be asbestos or worse in it. Good luck.

  • William William on Dec 04, 2019

    YES THEY ARE THE SAME. Sheetrock is a brand name (like Kleenex) and drywall is the same product just without a brand name. Sheetrock is a company name that provides "drywall" and "drywall" products. They are the same as the generic "drywall". Also known as the generic "wall board".

    What you may have is plaster and lathe or wire mesh. A stucco scratch coat of mortar over lathe/wire mesh and a finish skim coat of plaster over the scratch coat.

  • Columbia GB Columbia GB on Dec 05, 2019

    William is right. It sounds like plaster / lathe. Love this stuff. Plaster is not going rip apart if you over clean or scrape. If you do gouge, you just apply some compound and then smooth over with a wet sponge when dry.

    Have you researched how to remove various adhesives? There might be an easy solution to this. Personally, I would try to do this and get as much off as possible without too much elbow grease. Here's a google search link to get you started.

    Shame the remuddlers wrecked the walls.

    Good luck with your project!

    • Wendy Wendy on Dec 08, 2019

      I wish it was plaster and lathe, I’m pretty experienced with mud and drywall repair. This, is what sheet rock got it’s name from. We took down a wall so we know it isn’t lathe and plaster. Hard to damage really but we will need to learn more about getting fasteners into it as we get cabinets ready to go in. It really is more like cement. Little dust but gravel in its place, and it weighs a ton.

      Thanks for you interest and comment,


  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Dec 06, 2019

    Smooth as best you can. Drywall over top. Finished.