Stripping Vinyl – Again


The original wallpaper put up in the early ’90’s was the then-popular “satin” or “moray” shiny, slightly textured heavy vinyl material, with – to crown it off – boring stripes in a lackluster color. Before the new classic damask pattern can go up, the old paper needs to be removed. Here are some of the steps.

Stripping wallpaper is a matter of separating the layers, soaking the backing, and removing the backing from the wall. In the top photo, you can see that some of the colored / striped white vinyl layer has been pulled off the wall. It leaves behind a gritty-textured, yellow manila paper backing, still stuck to the wall.

Don’t let anyone smart-talk you into believing that it’s OK to leave this paper backing on the wall. The truth is, if you put new paper on top of it, the moisture from the paste will soak into the substrate left on the all, and will most likely cause bubbling of both layers.

Back to the top photo. Once that vinyl layer was stripped off the wall, I used a large sponge and a bucket of hot water to soak the backing left on the wall from each strip. This process is drippy, so I protected the baseboards and chair rail with absorbent, water-proof strips. In the photo, you can see the color change of this paper backing, as it becomes saturated with water it darkens and the paste behind it begins to soften.

In the second photo, the paper backing is entirely wet, the paste has reactivated and loosened, and the paper is easily peeling away from the wall, in one tidy intact piece. The section of wall to the right still has paper stuck to the wall. The section to the left has been stripped, and then scrubbed to remove paste residue.

The section in the middle is coming away to reveal a light colored clay-based paste still adhering to the wall. I will soak this, scrub it with a coarse sponge, and then wipe it with a softer sponge, to remove as much paste residue as possible.

Once the paste is washed off the wall and the wall has dried, I will apply a primer / sealer.

Note that this strip job was fairly easy and left no damage to the walls, due to a couple of important factors.

First, I think the original installer used a primer or sealer on the walls before hanging paper.

Second, the solid vinyl paper with its paper backing is generally easier than others to strip off. (However, I dislike this type of material, and find it poor quality, especially in rooms with humidity, such as bathrooms. The seams often show from the beginning, but also, as time goes by, especially in humid rooms, the seams often begin to curl, and cannot be glued back.)

On to the Third,,, the clay-based paste used by the original installer (and I’ve gotta wonder why he pasted the paper in the first place, since it was a pre-pasted paper – I follow the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which allows it to absorb moisture and expand as it’s supposed to, and also to become more malleable). But I also augment that by rolling on a thin layer of paste onto the wall. ).

Anyway, the clay-based pastes seem to rehydrate more readily than other pastes, and to separate from the paper more easily. They do leave a gooey, tan-colored mess on the wall, though. Which will need a bucket of hot water, a scrubby, and a lot of elbow grease to remove.

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