Wallpaper Removal

If you have a wallpapered room that is a bit dated and your not sure how to change it, you only have a couple of choices.

  1. Paint over it. This is an option but only if the wallpaper can handle being primed and painted. It is best (in this painter’s opinion) to prime with a non water based primer like an oil or a schelack. Water based primers and paints have a tendency to soak through the wallpaper and “activate” the glue. When this happens, the paper can start to pull away from the wall. If you are able to successfully prime the wallpaper to make it ready to paint, then you need to deal with the joints. Sometimes you can do a light drywall skim to make those disappear. If you are successful to this point, you still have the downside of future drywall issues that are difficult to repair if you have wallpaper in the substrate.
  2. Remove it. Taking down wallpaper is one of those tasks that is hard to predict how it will go. Sometimes it can come down easily and other times it is very hard. When wallpaper is hung correctly, a primer is used to seal the drywall and create better surface to glue to. Since drywall is made with a coating of paper, wallpaper glue tends to soak in and become very difficult to separate from it. Primer also makes the wallpaper easier to take down without tearing the paper from the drywall. The problem is that it seems to be very rare to find wallpaper that was put up properly. That being the case, you will need to be prepared for the drywall damage that is often a part of taking down wallpaper. The following is a process that can be most useful for most common wallpaper take down scenarios:

Determine how the wallpaper will best will come down. Not all wallpaper comes down using the same method. Testing several methods to figure out the quickest and most effective way to loosen the glue is a good idea.

  • Hot water- sometimes hot water will loosen the glue enough to pull the paper. Simple but sometimes effective.
  • Wallpaper remover- There are several brands. We normally use Dif. Use as directed.
  • Steamer- Normally, this is my favorite method but if the wallpaper is hung on top of a latex paint, the steamer may cause the paint behind the wallpaper to get gummy and gooey. When this happens, the wall damage will need to be fixed.

Once the wallpaper is down, the walls will need to be repaired to create a smooth surface that can be properly painted. Here is the process we use to make walls paint ready. Sand the walls lightly to knock off anything that is loose. Skim coat the damaged areas (sometimes this is the whole wall.) Use a very thin coat to minimize sanding. This is an area where hiring a professional may make the difference between a pro looking job and a novice one. Prime the walls. Use PVA drywall primer for fully skimmed walls or a multi surface primer. (PVA is cheaper but only good on skimmed walls or new drywall. Once the walls are primed, any imperfections in the primed areas, will stand out, re-skim those areas and prime. Now you are paint ready.

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