can be one of the most difficult projects to undertake in the process
of decorating your home. Sizing the wall to be papered is so important.
The paper will adhere better to a properly sized wall and most important
it makes removal of your old wallpaper so much easier!!!!!
can transform a room, going from boring to beautiful. But before you can
determine the best approach to removing wallpaper, you need to know the
type of wallcovering and the type of wall surface that's under the wallpaper.
Knowing what you're up against
In most cases, walls are either drywall (gypsum sandwiched between layers
of paper) or plaster smoothed over lath (either strips of wood or metal
mesh). You can usually tell what you have by the feel (plaster is harder,
colder, and smoother than drywall) or by tapping on it (drywall sounds
hollow, and plaster doesn't). When in doubt, remove an outlet cover to
see the exposed edge.
What about the wallpaper?
Be optimistic - assume that the paper is dry-strippable. Lift a corner
of the paper from the wall with a putty knife. Grasp the paper with both
hands and slowly attempt to peel it back at a very low angle. If it all
peels off, you're home free.
If the wallpaper doesn't peel off, or if only the decorative surface layer
peels off, you must saturate the wallpaper or the remaining backing with
water and wallpaper remover solvent and then scrape it off. Drywall is
more vulnerable to water damage; you must avoid over wetting it. And use
care when you're scraping because drywall gouges more easily than plaster.
Some papers, such as foils or those coated with a vinyl or acrylic finish,
are not porous. If you're removing such wallpapers, you must scratch,
perforate, or roughen the entire surface to permit the solution to penetrate
below the nonporous surface to the adhesive. You can test for porosity
by spraying a small area with hot water and wallpaper remover. If the
paper is porous, you should see the paper absorb the water immediately.
After the paper is wetted, you can scrape it off.
Now that you know what you're dealing with, you can choose an appropriate
removal technique for the entire surface. Depending on your situation,
choose one of three wallpaper-removal approaches: dry-stripping, wallpaper
remover, or steam.
Choosing a removal technique
The technique you use for removing the old wallpaper depends on what kind
of paper you're taking down and what kind of surface is underneath (see
the previous section, "Knowing what you're up against"). The
following sections outline the steps involved in the different approaches.
If a wallpaper is dry-strippable, you just need to loosen each strip at
the corners with a putty knife and slowly peel it back at a 10- to 15-degree
Don't pull the wallpaper straight out or you may damage the underlying
surface, especially if it's drywall.
After you remove all the paper, follow the adhesive removal procedures
the next section describes. If only the top, decorative layer peels off,
leaving a paper backing behind, it's a peelable paper. Dry-strip the entire
top layer and then follow the steps in the next section to take off the
backing and adhesive.
If you plan to repaper and the old backing is secure and in good condition,
you may be able to hang the new wallcovering right on top of it. Discuss
this option with your wallpaper dealer.
Soaking and scraping it off
To remove nonstrippable paper or any paper backing that remains after
dry-stripping a peelable paper's decorative layer, turn first to warm
water and wallpaper removal solvent. Soak the surface with a wallpaper
remover solution. Although a spray bottle works, the most effective way
to get the solution on the wall and not all over the floor is to use a
paint roller or a spray bottle. Then scrape the sodden paper off with
a wide taping knife or a wallpaper scraper. Don't wet a larger area than
you can scrape off within about 15 minutes. You shouldn't let water soak
into drywall for longer than that, or it may cause unnecessary damage.
Usually, you can wet about a 3-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling section at
Scrape off the wet wallpaper and let it fall to the floor. The canvas
drop cloth or towels that you put down absorbs most of the dripping solution
and keeps your shoe soles a little cleaner.
If the wallpaper is nonporous, you must roughen or perforate the surface
so that the remover solution can penetrate and dissolve the adhesive.
To roughen the surface, use coarse sandpaper on either a pad sander or
a hand-sanding block. You can also use a neat gizmo called a Paper Tiger
or another perforating tool devised for use on wallpaper applied over
drywall. Rounded edges on these tools help ensure that you don't cause
damage that may require subsequent repair. Don't use the scraper after
the wallpaper is wet, though; you may damage the drywall.
If you're successful in using the soak-and-scrape approach, you can finish
up the job. If not, it's time to pull out the big gun: a wallpaper steamer.
Giving it a steam bath
You're talking major work if you must remove more than one layer of wall-paper
or remove wallpaper that has been painted over. And if the wallpaper was
not applied to a properly sealed surface, removing it without damaging
the wall can be next to impossible. For these tough jobs, you may have
to rent a wallpaper steamer (about $15 for a half-day) or buy a do-it-yourself
model (about $50). A wallpaper steamer is a hotplate attached to a hose
extending from a hot water reservoir that heats the water and directs
steam to the hotplate.
Fill the steamer with water and let it heat up, and keep a baking pan
handy to put the hotplate in when you're not using it. Starting at the
top of the wall, hold the hotplate against the wall in one area until
the wallpaper softens. Move the hotplate to an adjacent area as you scrape
the softened wallpaper with a wallpaper razor scraper and let it fall
onto the plastic as described in the preceding section. When you're through
scraping one area, the steamer usually has softened the next area, depending
on the porosity of the paper.
Wallpaper Removal Part 2
Sometimes wallpaper is just not going to come off without substantial damage to the drywall it is on. Wallpaper removal is difficult and sometimes impossible to do. If this is the case, and you have exhausted every wallpaper removal technique you can think of, you have a couple of options.
The first option is to paint over the old wallpaper.
Cut out any loose areas and level walls with wallboard compound. Cut back loose seams and skim coat the walls with joint compound. Let the joint compound dry and sand smooth. The more time you spend filling holes, patching, smoothing and sanding, the better your result will be. Once you are finished your prep, close your eyes and rub your hand over the entire wall surface. Your hand will tell you where the errors are better than your eye. Without valiant efforts at preparation, it will look just like you painted over wallpaper.
You may want to hire a professional to skim coat the walls. He will be able to do it in a fraction of thee time it will take you and help make a difficult job a lot easier.
Seal walls with oil-based primer (not water-based). This will seal in all stains and provide a smooth surface for painting.
Your second option is to hang new sheetrock over the existing walls. I have used ¼” sheetrock for this type of job many times with excellent success.
This can present a new set of problems however. You may have to install new moldings and trim throughout the room. Extension jambs may have to be added to doors and windows so that moldings will lay flat. A complete tape and spackle job will be needed to make the room ready for paint or new wallpaper.
Similar to your second option is to rip out all of the existing sheetrock and hang all new drywall. Again a complete tape and spackle job will be needed and most likely all new trim will be necessary.
The advantage of hanging new drywall versus a hairsplitting wallpaper removal job is that you will have a completely new room to work with and enjoy.
When you are ready to paint remember to us a good primer to prepare the new drywall for paint. If you are going to hang new wallpaper make sure you use a sizer which will stabilize your new application and allow for an easy wallpaper removal project in the future.
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