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The Joy of Stripping Wallpaper

Oh the joys of removing wallpaper! Here are some tips to make your endeavors at cleaning up old wallpaper more efficient and less tedious. While you can certainly hire a professional such as ourselves to perform this service for you, stripping wallpaper can be pricy, so it does not hurt to try it yourself. If you get frustrated, we can finish the job! Tips for Removing Wallpaper

  • Protect the floors by covering them with plastic and a drop cloth. Remove all electrical switch plates and cover the outlets with tape, to help avoid an electrical shock when water is applied to the walls.
  • Test a small section of the paper to see if it will come off easily. Some wallpaper has several layers. The key is to get the paper, the backing and 100% of the paste off the wall before applying any paint.
  • If the paper does not come off easily, apply some water or wallpaper stripping formula to the walls and sand the paper with 36 grit sandpaper. This may help loosen the wallpaper from the walls.
  • Continue using warm water and sandpaper (you can also use a Scotch-Brite Green Pad) to continue to loosen the paper.
  • Once the first layer is off, continue applying very small amounts of water (a Hudson sprayer works best) to the final layer of paper.
  • Once the paper is off, scrub the paste off the walls and wipe them clean with warm water. Make sure your water bucket does not build up too much paste. Change your water frequently.
  • If you do NOT get all the paste off the walls and begin painting, it will typically cause the paint to crack very quickly. Therefore, this stage is very important to remove ALL the paste.
  • Sometimes wallpaper does not come off using the techniques above. You can use a putty knife and other small hand tools to scrape the wet paper off. If you are going to use hand tools, be extra careful not to damage the drywall or plastered walls. The more careful you are, the less prep you will have to do on the walls prior to painting them.

Trade Secrets Regarding Extra-Stubborn Wallpaper

If the walls were not properly prepared and primed before receiving wallpaper, the wallpaper will probably be very difficult to remove. It is sometimes recommended to leave the paper on and follow these steps:

  • Begin by making sure any corners or seems of the wallpaper are tight and not peeling back.
  • Apply 1 to 2 coats of an oil-base sealer/primer. Oil-base primer is the key. If you use a water-base sealer (such as Kilz2) it may soften the wallpaper and cause bubbling to occur.
  • After the wallpaper has been sealed and allowed to dry properly, apply a thin layer of drywall mud to the seems of the wallpaper.
  • After the mud drys, sand the patches and apply another coat of oil base primer. Another option is to apply the texture you would like on the walls at this point. This is a difficult process if you have not done a lot of texturing. You may wish to seek a professional painting contractor or drywaller for this step.
  • Once the walls have received the desired texture and have a prime coat, the walls are ready to be painted.
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