Removing wallpaper can be a breeze or it can be a real challenge. The great news is that you never know until you are well into the project which of these experiences you're going to have. Okay that’s not such great news, but unfortunately, it is reality. Here are some tips to making the process a little more bearable and to ensure a long lasting, great looking finish.
The first step you are going to want to take is to protect the floor and other surfaces around the area. We recommend masking the floor and other items with plastic. Next, line the floor at the bottom of the wall where you are removing wallpaper with old towels or newspaper. This comes in handy later when applying the wallpaper remover or water to rinse the wall.
I would recommend buying a product called the Piranha because it is inexpensive and will make the whole job substantially easier. The Piranha perforates the wallpaper allowing the wallpaper remover solution to penetrate through the paper and begin softening the glue. Other companies make similar tools that can do this job.
Once the wallpaper has been adequately perforated you can apply a wallpaper remover of your choice. If you want to save a few dollars regular liquid dish soap also works pretty well. Apply the wallpaper removal solution generously using a squirt bottle or garden sprayer. If you are reluctant to do any spraying then purchase a large sponge and soak the walls that way. Remember to generously soak the surface. Let the solution sit for at least 15 minutes allowing it to work. Once it has had time to soak in I find it best to re-wet the surface at the point where you will begin the removal process. Re-wetting small areas as you work on removing the paper acts as a lubricant making the job easier and causes less damage to the wallboard.
Removing the wallpaper can be accomplished with special wallpaper removal tools or wide, stiff, putty knives. Take your time removing the paper. Every gouge in that wall is a gouge you will have to fix later. If the wallpaper is resisting your efforts and just plain refusing to come off then you may need to rent or buy a wallpaper steamer. These work well but they add cost to the project and can be messy. This tool is fairly straightforward, it has a tank with water that gets heated and a large square device that you rest on the wall to heat the glue to a point where the wallpaper can be easily scraped off.
Now that all the wallpaper has been removed go ahead and take a large sponge and a solution of that wallpaper stripper that we purchased earlier and wash those walls down as you want to get as much of that glue off as possible. I recommend sanding the wall to remove any debris left behind from the removal process.
The next step is to apply a full coat of stain blocking primer to the walls where the wallpaper has been removed. This is a very important step. The process seals in the remaining glue that has soaked into the wall. If you skip this process it is likely that a year down the line the finished paint will begin to crack as the glue seeps out.
Once the wallpaper is off, the walls are washed, sanded, and primed you can patch and texture the walls as needed. If you had to make some large patches or texture spots go ahead and seal those with the primer used earlier.
Congratulations you are now ready to paint using one of those great zero VOC paints we recommended in our earlier blog.
Material and Tools
RUST-OLEUM 02966 1Head Wlpr Remover Tool
Piranha 202301L Wallpaper Removal Scoring Tool
Zinsser® High Hide Cover-Stain® Primer Product Page
Zinsser® Odorless Oil-Base Stain Blocker Product Page
Wagner 0282018, 705 Steamer 1-Gallon Wallpaper Steamer
Zinsser 98014 4-Inch Long-Handle Scraper Tool
Piranha 206007 1 gal Liquid Spray Wallpaper Remover