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Pocket Guide to Wallpaper Removal

by on Sep 19, 2008

created on: 09/19/08

Stripping wallpaper is one of the worst home improvement projects I’ve ever undertaken.  During each room, I swore I would never hang wallpaper again, but……

 “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Michael Corleone, Godfather III

I daydream about sitting in my favorite chair, journaling (a verb?) about my goals and dreams, in front of a vibrant retro-inspired oversized graphic wallpapered wall.  No, no, no!! I won’t do it. 

If you can’t resist the urge and you need to remove old paper, here’s a condensed guide to explain what you’ll be up against, but you need to see this ugly job and, this not me.

created on: 09/19/08

Determine if you have:

     Paper only

     Vinyl or decorative front that will peel away from a backing

     Vinyl that won’t peel at all

1.  Paper only: Try to peel the paper, if it doesn’t budge, sponge or spray with a mixture of hot water and vinegar (2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar), let sit for 20 minutes.  Take a 2-3 inch plastic putty knife and start scraping at a very low angle. Keep soaking in 4 foot sections and repeat.

*If the glue doesn’t dissolve with vinegar solution, try a commercial wallpaper glue solvent such as DIF

2. Vinyl coated or decorative front paper: Peel off the front layer which will leave the paper backing on the wall.  Follow Step 1 to remove paper backing.

3.  Vinyl or decorative coated paper that won’t peel at all: You will need to score the surface in order to allow the water and solvent to go to work on the glue.  A tool called a Paper Tiger can be used in the palm of your hand to roll around the surface perforating the top layer.  Sponge hot water and solvent on top of the scored paper. This will take a while.  You’ll have to get one piece loosened to get a good start. You’ll find that once the scored sections have soaked up the water and solvent, they will come off much faster. 

created on: 09/19/08


TIPS:  Keep putty knife at a very low angle so as not to damage walls

          Don’t grab and pull sections straight out from walls, pull away from the wall at a low angle

          Keep water as hot as you can stand it

4. Cleaning the walls: Now that you’re paper is removed you’ll have to wash all remaining glue off the walls.  You can tell if there is still glue residue if when you wet the wall it feels slimy. I’ve had the best luck washing walls with a bucket of hot water with liquid dishwashing soap and one of those green teflon pads.  The pad cuts through the glue but be careful NOT to over scrub with the pad.  Only scrub enough to get the glue loosened, then wipe off with a clean wet sponge or rag. 

5.  Patch and prime any gouges or tears in drywall

6.  If painting, prime walls, if papering, size walls

7.  Re-paper or paint

If this project doesn’t dissuade you from wallpapering, then you SHOULD hang wallpaper!

You’ll be wanting to hang this mid-century wallpaper design from Miss Print, London



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