Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Removing Wallpaper - Part 1

I am not a fan of wallpaper.  I know that some people love it.  It is durable, hides a wide variety of "sins" and comes in brilliant patterns.  Even understanding all that, I still prefer painted walls.  They are like a blank canvas and can easily be painted and embellished.
By comparison, removing wallpaper is a huge task.  It is messy, requires lots of supplies and worst of all, you never know what is underneath the paper...
There are some basic steps to removing wallpaper.  Schedule a block of time, do not be in a rush!  While it is not a fun job, trying to rush through it will produce awful results.  Be prepared to repeat steps and roll with what you discover.

Tools - 
Trash bags
sponge or rag
white vinegar
Spray bottle

Hardware stores rent wallpaper steamers which are made to steam the paper, so the adhesive becomes liquid and the paper can be removed.  This is one method.  I prefer a spray bottle and solution.
You can purchase various wallpaper stripper formulas at hardware stores, but I prefer a simpler formula of 1 part white vinegar to 8 parts hot water.  The heat from the water turns the adhesive to a liquid state.

Step 1: Remove all outlet covers and switch-plates.  Take down all pictures or artwork.  Remove any light fixtures or thermostats that come in contact with the walls.

You will start to discover "sins" in the wall.  Here, I found some holes.

Step 2: If your wallpaper has a vinyl coating, you can try and peel it off in layers.  In my case, the wallpaper had started to bubble and come apart at the seams, so I just peeled off the wallpaper, leaving a second layer underneath, attached to the wall.
As you can see, the second layer of wallpaper is what is attached to the actual wall.  This is what I need to remove.  I filled the spray bottle with hot water and added the vinegar.  I misted the second layer of paper until it was wet and then I started to scrape it off with the tool.  Once it was started, I could pull up larger pieces.  I used the scraper to help nudge along the stubborn bits.

 During this time, be careful not to damage the wall.  Immediately, place the wet sheets and bits of removed wallpaper in the trash bag.  The wet adhesive will re-stick to the next thing it dries on.  So, just put it in the trash bag and not on the floor or on a table.  Work in small areas.  You do not want to spray too much and really wet the wall.  Just spray enough to loosen the adhesive.
Continue this until all the wallpaper is gone.
Certain areas will require additional scraping.  Remove the paper and wipe the blade frequently to prevent the adhesive build up.

After the paper is removed, you must now take inventory of your walls.

Part 2 coming tomorrow...

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