Posts Tagged ‘remove’

Stripping Wallpaper

January 30, 2020


Eeewww – I’m stripping wallpaper off the walls of a bathroom. What a mess!

(Don’t worry – there are dropcloths under there.)

For a few years now, I’ve been using Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer, and this was my first chance to remove paper that has been hung on it. I must say – I was very pleased.

The paper came off nicely enough, and the primer stayed stuck to the wall. It did not rewet or bubble. There was NO damage to the walls, and no need for repairs, nor any need to reprime.

One key to this is to wet-strip the paper. You cannot come in and just try to yank the paper off the wall. First of all, that won’t work. But if it does, it is likely that the paper will take some of the primer and even some of the wall or drywall along with it.

The proper, more gentle way to strip wallpaper is …

You’ve gotta understand that wallpaper is made of at least two layers – the top, inked layer, and the underlying substrate layer.

I use plain water and a 3″ stiff putty knife to strip paper. The water will re-wet the paste on the back of the paper, and once it is wet and softened, the paper will (usually) peel away from the wall easily and in large pieces.

The thing is, water will not penetrate the top, inked layer of wallpaper. That’s because the manufacturer has applied a coating to protect the paper from stains, and it is resistant to water.

So I take that putty knife and use it to get under the top layer of wallpaper – withOUT gouging into the substrate or into the wall. Then I peel off that top layer of paper. I have found that wetting the surface with a sponge helps strengthen the fibers, so that larger chunks of paper come off. You will also find that there is a “nap” to the material, and it will pull off in larger chunks once you figure out if it wants to be pulled from top to bottom and / or from left to right – or vise versa.

It will separate and leave the backing / substrate stuck to the wall.

Once that top layer is off, I use a sponge and a bucket of hot water to wet the backing. Over and over as needed. The backing is porous and the water will soak through, allowing the paste to reactivate. Once that paste gets wet enough, it will let you pull the backing away from the wall.

You will have the most success with this if the walls were properly prepped and primed before the original wallpaper went up.

That’s it in a nutshell. Time consuming, but sort of methodic and meditative. And it will leave your walls in good condition to receive the new wallpaper.

20+ Year Old Paper – Still Perfect

July 31, 2019


I hung this paper in a master bathroom in Bellaire more than 20 years ago. It is still in perfect shape!

This is due partly to the good quality paper the homeowner chose (not low-end, pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl), to good ventilation removing humidity from the room, to good installation techniques, and to the great primer I used at that time – Oil Based KILZ Original. Unfortunately, EPA regulations forced changes to this primer, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it.

The homeowners are going to renovate and update the bathroom, so I was there taking measurements for the new room. When it comes time to remove this old paper, I know that it will strip off easily and cleanly, because of the installation and primer used when it was put up.

Stripping Vinyl – Again

April 25, 2018


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.

The “Paper “Tiger” – A Horrible Tool !

December 14, 2017


Photo #1 – top view.

Photo #2 – bottom or inside view

People who go on-line to research “how to strip wallpaper” might be duped into buying this gadget. And I even know paperhangers who use it. But, folks, it is HORRIBLE. It will wreak severe damage on your walls. It will make your removal project much more difficult and time-consuming. STAY AWAY!

The concept is sound. If you perforate the surface of the wallpaper, water can penetrate it more easily and then soften the paste on the back, allowing you to remove the wallpaper.

The main problem, though, is that virtually everyone presses too hard, and then the tool’s teeth dig into not just the wallpaper, but into the drywall, causing severe damage that will require difficult and time-consuming repairs.

The other problem is that this gadget will cut your wallpaper into tiny pieces. That means that when you go to remove the paper from the wall, you will be scraping off, and then picking up off the floor, a gazillion 1/2″ micro-bits of wallpaper.

It would be much preferable to follow the easy steps listed on my page (to the left) entitled, “How To Strip Wallpaper.”

Basically, all that’s needed to strip off old wallpaper is to remove the top, inked layer, which will leave a backing layer on the wall. Then all you do is use a sponge to apply clean water to the backing. Over and over again. Until the paste underneath has been sufficiently softened that you can either pull it away from the wall, or gently scrape it away.

No damage to the wall, no muss, and nice big pieces of paper that are easy to collect and put in the trash.

Painting Grasscloth is NOT a Good Idea

September 2, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

This room was originally wallpapered with an olive green grasscloth. Then, perhaps to “update” the room before putting the house on the market, the grasscloth was painted over with tan paint.

Folks, this is a bad idea. For one thing, it just looks bad. Look at the second picture. The paint is dull and lifeless, and takes away the depth and natural look of the grasscloth material.

Secondly, it makes the material virtually impossible to remove. The paint soaks into the fibers, congealing into one hard, solid, stiff mass. Pulling this stuff off the wall took about the most physical strength that I have ever had to use to strip wallpaper.

The pity is that they could have simply taken a few steps to properly remove the grasscloth.

Wallpapering Ceilings With a Fan

August 16, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image


Note to Self: The next time a homeowner wants you to put wallpaper on her ceiling, you must insist that they have the ceiling fan removed. Or, at very minimum, have someone remove the blades.

Working two strips of wallpaper around this ceiling fan must have taken nearly two full hours.

The good news is, all went well, with no tears or going off-plumb.