Whether it is old and faded or just not your style, removing old wallpaper can dramatically improve the look and feel of any room.
Step 1: Prepare the area. Stripping wall paper is a messy proposition. Move the furniture away from the walls to be stripped. Take down pictures, pull out nails and remove any hardware on the walls. Remove any cover plates and use blue painters tape to cover switches and outlets. Lay down plastic drop cloths to protect the floor and woodwork. You may want to use blue painters tape to secure the drop cloths onto the baseboards for extra protection.
Step 2: Test the wall paper. In a perfect world you should be able to grab the bottom two corners of a strip of wall paper and peel it off the wall in a full sheet. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, but you should still test to see if the paper peels off easily. If it is vinyl paper, you may find the top vinyl layer peels away, leaving the paper backing stuck to the wall. If this is the case, go ahead and peel away. The paper residue can be scrapped off easier without the vinyl top layer.
Step 3: If the paper does not peel off easily, you will need to score the paper to allow a chemical stripper to penetrate and release the wall paper adhesive. Scoring can easily be done with the small wheels of a “Paper Tiger” tool or with a wire brush. The paper tiger is less likely to damage the wall below. Either way, perforate the paper to be stripped from top to bottom by running the paper tiger or wire brush over the entire surface. The more holes the better.
Step 4: Fill a two gallon bucket with hot water and add either a bottle of DIF wall paper stripper, a quarter cup of fabric softener or two cups of white vinegar. Use a sponge to apply the stripping solution to the wall. If there is a large amount of paper to be removed, you may want to invest in an inexpensive garden tank sprayer to apply the solution. Either way, be sure to wear safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect yourself from the stripping solution.
Step 5: Allow the solution to soak in for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 6: Re-wet a small section of wall paper, making sure the water is still hot before applying the solution.
Step 7: Use a stiff putty knife or a wall paper scraper to scrape away the loose wall paper. Work in small patches and re-wet the paper as necessary.
Step 8: Once the paper has been completely stripped away from the wall, use a non residual cleaner such as TSP or Dirtex to remove any remaining adhesive.
Carefully clean up the area, dispose of the matted wall paper remains and start dreaming of colors to paint your new walls.
With the right tools and some hot water, stripping wall paper doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence.
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