“I love removing old wallpaper!” said no-one ever. When it comes to removing old wallpaper, most people would put it up there on the “not fun” list with getting teeth pulled.
But alas, removing old wallpaper is a task that must be done sometimes, especially if you buy an older home in Albuquerque. So how can you remove it an keep your sanity as well?
Check to See If Your Walls Were Primed
If your wallpaper is primed, that’s a “prime” situation, as it will definitely speed up the removal job. Priming paper became a common practice in the 1990’s, as it kept the glue from forming too strong of a bond with the plaster.
It’s easy enough to check if your walls are primed. Just loosen a corner or seam with a putty knife and pull. If it comes off in one sheet, success!
With well-primed walls, dry stripping should work for the entire job and you could finish a room in a couple of hours at most.
Water Works Miracles
If your wallpaper is not primed, all is not lost. Wallpaper glue is water-based, so you can still remove it if your walls are not primed.
Here’s a technique the pros use:
- Score or perforate the paper and its backing in sections so water can soak through and loosen the glue. The pros recommend a scoring tool called the PaperTiger (under $20) because it doesn’t harm the wall.
- Douse the perforated paper with hot water using a pump or compression sprayer. The big mistake most people make is using a regular old spray bottle or damp rag to wet the paper. This leads to hours of fruitless scraping because the paper and its backing don’t get sufficiently saturated. The sprayer, on the other hand, gives you the firepower to really soak the glue.
- Let the paper soak for about 15 minutes and scrape it off with a putty knife.
This process will take about 6 hours for an average room, but it’s better than how long it would take if you didn’t know how to do this.
Avoid Chemical Strippers Because of the Fumes
You can go with chemical wallpaper strippers, which is waht the pros use. But the downside is the fumes, and it costs more than using water (of course).
Don’t Try the Fabric Softener Trick
You may have heard that using fabric softeners with diluted water will remove wallpaper. Yet, no expert agrees with that method.
In fact, fabric softener makes removing wallpaper even more complicated and messier than just using water, as it ends up mixing the glue with the fabric softener. The fabric softener can also harm drywall.
So when it comes to removing wallpaper, the happiest journey (assuming your walls aren’t primed) involves water — and patience.
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