Wallpaper was once thought of as a must-have interior design component. Today, however, it is old-fashioned and stuffy – and incredibly difficult to remove.
While the process takes time, effort, and plenty of elbow grease, it is possible to successfully remove wallpaper. The following tips and tricks can help you strip your walls and prepare them for a fresh layer of paint.
Prepare the room
Before you even think about peeling away the old paper, ensure the room is prepped and ready. Begin by removing and covering outlets and switches; lots of liquid will be used on the walls, so a tight seal protects them – and you! – against electrical shock. Use waterproof tarps or sheets to protect flooring, and ensure that there is a tight caulk seal around baseboards to prevent warping.
Test the wallpaper’s adhesion
The type of glue used, age, brand, and how it was applied can all affect a wallpaper’s adhesion. Before resorting to using scorers, solvents, or steamers, try to peel away a small section. Start at a discreet corner or seam and peel away a small section from the surface; if it can be removed without tearing the sheetrock underneath, additional solvents may not be needed!
Score the walls
Whether you opt for a solvent or a steamer, perforating the walls can make removing old wallpaper easier. Scoring tools make tiny holes in the wallpaper – without damaging the underlying sheetrock; this allows the solvent solution to further penetrate the paper and better dissolve the adhesive.
The solvent method
Commercial solvents are liquid chemicals or gels that dissolve old wallpaper adhesive. However, DIY solvents can be made using hot water mixed with either vinegar or fabric softener. Work in small batches to keep the water as hot as possible; completely saturate the wallpaper in small sections until it begins to sag or pull away.
The steamer method
Steamers work by penetrating the paper with hot steam. They are particularly effective on homes with thick, old-style wallpaper or papers that have been adhered for a long time. How long a steamer takes to effectively remove the paper can be found through trial and error; apply the steamer too long and it can damage the drywall, but use too little steam and the paper will be difficult to remove. When steaming, make sure to remove paper using a scraper as the glue and paper are often superheated and can cause burns.
Prep walls for paint
After the majority of the paper has been removed, remove any remaining adhesive and spackle any nicks in the drywall. If removing the wallpaper caused significant damage to the underlying drywall, contact a professional for help; the experts at Graystone Painting & Refinishing can repair or replace drywall that is damaged during wallpaper removal. Our team of pros can also help you put the perfect coat of paint on the newly-cleaned walls! Contact us today for more information on how we can help your walls after wallpaper removal.