Posts Tagged ‘epa’

Replacing One Wall

April 13, 2019

I hung this sunburst medallion wallpaper in an entry in west Meyerland a year or two ago. Originally, there was a doorway in the middle of this wall that led into the adjoining room. The homeowners had the doorway closed off, and the opening was replaced with a new piece of Sheetrock. This needed to be covered with wallpaper.

New wallpaper could not be patched in, and the damaged areas along the wainscoting could not be readhered, so new paper had to be bought to cover the entire wall – as well as a section over the entry door.

The second and third photos show where the contractor had pulled the paper away from the wall. As you can see, it took some of the primer and the paint below it, too. I wish I knew what the contractor did to have this result, because when I stripped off the rest of the wallpaper, it came off easily and left the wall surface below it perfectly intact.

I suspect that he just yanked the paper, or possibly used heat or some weird chemical. The proper way to strip off wallpaper is to wet it, then separate the top, inked layer from the bottom, substrate layer, and pull the top layer gently off the wall. Then you take a sponge and bucket of water and wet the backing. Once that water reactivates the paste, the paper backing will come away from the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the wall.

I also suspect that this paper was hung over KILZ Original oil-based primer, which was a superb primer because it stuck tight and because it was not affected or reactivated by the water used to soak the wallpaper backing. Unfortunately, the formula for that product changed due to EPA regulations, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it. These days, I’m using two alternative primers – both water-based, and I am curious to see how they hold up when wallpaper is stripped off them.

Back to today’s job … Once I got the paper off, I used joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the uneven areas between the contractor’s stripping job and mine, then sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and then hung the new paper.

The wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut, and is called Bahia. It’s a non-woven product, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. As you can see, neither the contractor nor I had success with that. The tried and true separate-the-layers-and-saturate-the-backing-with-water method was the solution.

Stripping Off What I Hung 20+ Years Ago

February 12, 2019


I hung this viny pattern back in the early 2000’s in dining room in the West U neighborhood of Houston. Now that it’s time for a change, I got to strip off what I had hung 20 years ago.

I was amazed at how easy it was, and at how there was NO damage to the walls.

The paper came away from the wall when I simply pulled it dry, but I was afraid of doing damage to the walls, especially at the seams. (When wallpaper dries, or over time with fluctuations in temperature and humidity, wallpaper can put stress on the seams, which can cause layers inside the wall to delaminate and come apart.)

To lessen the chance of putting stress on the seams, I used a sponge to put water on the surface of the paper. Because it was paper (not vinyl), water was able to penetrate, and reactivate the paste that was holding the paper to the wall. I made many trips around the room, soaking the paper each time. The more water that was able to soak into the paper, the softer the paste became, and the easier it was to pull the paper away from the wall.

Usually, the inked top layer of paper separates from the paper backing, and then you sponge water onto the backing layer, which reactivates the paste and then it comes away pretty easily. But in this case, the top and backing layers stayed together, and came off in one intact piece. This virtually never happens.

Note that I am pulling down, and not away from the wall. Pulling downwards minimizes stress on the wall. And I am pulling slowly and gently – not yanking.

What’s better – there was absolutely NO damage to the walls. Not one bit of primer pulled away from the surface, not one seam gave way, nothing to patch.

Why? Because when I prepped these walls 20 years ago, I did a proper job. I skim floated the textured walls to smooth them, removed all residual dust with a damp sponge, then primed with oil-based KILZ Original – great stuff, for many reasons. It holds tightly to the surface, it won’t rewet when water is sponged on the surface, it’s strong enough to resist double-cutting (strokes with a razor blade), it dries thin and smooth, and much more.

I wish I could still use KILZ Original. It was a superior primer for wallpaper (as well as stain-blocker). Unfortunately, EPA regulations have required manufacturers to make changes to their product, and wallpaper paste will no longer adhere to it.

I’m using alternatives now, and am pleased with the results. …Although I have not had experience stripping paper off these new products, so time will tell about that.

But these photographs of my experiences yesterday show what a superlative product the original KILZ Original was, and how important it is to take the time to prep a wall properly before hanging wallpaper.

A More Grown-Up Room – But Still Way Fun

October 25, 2018


I put this paper up back in the ’90’s. It’ still in perfect shape!

The two girls who shared this bathroom have grown up and moved away. Mom thought it was time to get rid of the girlhood décor and move to something more suited for a guest bathroom.

The original paper was a pre-pasted solid vinyl. The vinyl layer stripped off easily, and left the paper backing clinging to the wall. A good soak with plain water softened and reactivated the paste, and the backing came away from the wall easily and with minimal scraping (the putty knife is there more to show perspective). The primer I used back then, oil based KILZ Original, helped protect the walls, and prevented moisture from the removal process from soaking through. KILZ was a superb primer, and I wish I could still use it. But the EPA required changes to many products, to be more environment-friendly, and wallpaper paste will not stick to the new formulas. 😦

Back to the wallpaper … This pattern is from Anthropologie. It is made by York, and is in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite papers to work with. It is pre-pasted and water-activated. The non-woven substrate is thin and pliable (unlike most other brands), conforms nicely to the walls, and exhibits no shrinkage / gaps at the seams when it dries.

The material is designed to strip off the walls easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. (Although I pretty much doubt that claim – and I would prefer that it not … There is much less chance of damage to the wall if the top layer of wallpaper strips off, leaving the backing on the wall, and then the backing is soaked with a wet sponge, the paste reactivated, and then the backing will come off easily, with minimal or no damage to the walls.)

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

Wallpaper Primers

April 20, 2017

Digital Image


There are lots of “wallpaper hangers” out there who slap paper up on the wall without a thought to prep. To do the job right, and to help ensure that the paper will stay on the wall for years to come, one of the basic steps is to apply a good primer.

There are different primers that will work under wallpaper. Here are a few that I use, depending on what the situation is in the room.

Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 is a white-pigmented wallpaper-specific product, and it is my primer of choice.

But when I have skim-floated walls to smooth them, the new surface needs to be sealed, and Gardz is a wonderful product for that. It also seals and binds torn drywall. And it is also a good primer for wallpaper.

KILZ Original (oil-based) is called in when there are stains (water, rust, smoke, grease, etc.) or other problems that might bleed through the new wallpaper. For decades, KILZ was my go-to primer for wallpaper, too. But in recent years, to keep up with regulations from the EPA, the formula has changed. This primer may be more compatible with the environment, but the chemical make-up has changed, and wallpaper paste no longer wants to stick to it. So it’s used to seal stains, and then another wallpaper primer is applied on top of it.