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Remove Old Wallpaper

Remove Old Wallpaper

By: Dan Behymer, Posted: , Section: Before and After

REMOVE OLD WALLPAPER

Removing wallpaper is sometimes a necessary evil if you plan to give your walls a pro-quality paint finish. Painting over wallpaper will not conceal seams or keep the paper from peeling in corners. Plus, any paint can cause the paper to wrinkle or bubble. For the best results, you should remove the wallpaper before painting.

Look for any loose corners or seams, and if you don’t find one, make one. Give the loose tab a slow, controlled yank. You might be able to peel away large sections of paper by hand with little effort. Move along the wall, pulling off all the paper you can, because the follow-up methods require more time and work. Use a drop cloth to catch the debris.

The paper won’t always completely come away from the wall while pulling it off by hand, however. The adhesive on the back can be stubbornly fused to the paper face of the drywall. To remove the paper without damaging the wall surface, you will need to weaken the chemical bond of the glue. There are two ways to do this: a liquid wallpaper stripper, or a steam-powered stripper.

PRO TIP: PREP BEFORE PAINTING

After removing wallpaper, wash the wall several times to remove glue residue. Use fresh water and a sponge. Otherwise, the residue will impair the bonding of the paint and cause it to peel. Use a box fan to hasten the drying process. Once the wall is completely dry, apply a coat of primer, then paint.

KNOW THE SCORE

Before you remove wallpaper, you should first use a perforation tool to abrade the paper so that it can absorb liquid (whether chemicals or water). This tool is sold at most hardware stores; it’s basically a palm-size handle that houses wheeled spurs. Apply just enough pressure to perforate the paper without damaging the drywall. Alternatively, score the paper with the edge of a wall scraper in a crisscross pattern with 6-inch spacing.

USE A CHEMICAL STRIPPER

Using a chemical wallpaper stripper is one of the easiest and least expensive methods to do the job. Here’s how to do it right.

STEP 1

Mix the liquid wallpaper remover with hot water, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

STEP 2

Use a paint roller or spray bottle to apply the remover to the perforated paper. Wait about 10 minutes for the remover to weaken the adhesive, and then peel off as much as you can with your hands.

STEP 3

For stubborn swaths of paper, lightly use a 3-inch scraper at a shallow angle to scrape the paper without nicking the wall.

STRIP WITH STEAM

Use steam to remove wall paper

If you frequently remodel or redecorate, consider investing in a steam-powered wallpaper stripper. These tools eliminate the need to use chemicals and can be reused over and over. The simplest steamers require only that the user fill the tank with water and plug the cord in an outlet to start the heating element. Once the water heats up, the steam that is generated escapes through a hose. At the end of the hose a steam plate collects the steam over a targeted area.

Just hold the steam plate flat to the wallpaper for about 10 seconds. The steam will heat and dampen the paper, which loosens the glue. Move the plate onto the spot immediately next to the one just steamed, from which the paper should easily come off with a little bit of encouragement from a wall scraper. This pattern should allow you to continuously remove paper. Don’t forget that steam is hot; water will boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, so be careful when using a steamer.

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