Posts Tagged ‘stripping off’

Stripping Off Old Wallpaper

February 14, 2018


This hall bathroom in a 1955 ranch-style home in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston was damaged by a roof leak during Hurricane Harvey. The contractor’s guys did a good job replacing drywall and painting the woodwork, but they fell short when it came to wallpaper. See first photo.

But this just gave the homeowner a chance to choose something that coordinated better with the decades-old tile that she loves (and that I love, too), and to pick a paper with more color and flair, that is more suited to her taste. See tomorrow’s post for that.

My first task was to remove the existing wallpaper. It turned out that there were two layers of paper, and, in some places, THREE layers.

In the second photo, I have removed most of the top (new) paper, which is the aqua trellis by Thibaut. I took it off by simply tearing it off the wall. Below it, you see the green savoy (small, tight, squiggly) by Waverly. Interestingly enough, I have hung this a bunch of times – in the ’90’s. 🙂

This paper was attached more tightly to the wall. To remove it, I had to first separate the top inked layer from it’s paper backing. You can see this in the second photo. Once the top layer, with it’s water-resistant acrylic surface was removed, it left behind a white paper backing. I used a sponge and bucket of hot water to soak the backing. It didn’t take long before the underlying paste reactivated, and then it was ready to let go of the wallpaper. You can see clean wall revealed in the photo, where the layers of wallpaper have come away.

In one area of the room, I got a surprise. There was a third layer of paper under the others. The top vinyl layer had been stripped of eons ago, but the tan, gritty paper backing was left on the wall. You can see this in the third photo dry (light tan) and soaked with water (dark tan). Once that tan paper backing got soaked enough with several spongings with hot water, the paste reactivated and the paper was happy to come away from the wall.

I was uncommonly lucky today, because whoever hung the original wallpaper had taken the time to prep the walls correctly. First, he skim-coated the textured walls to yield a smooth surface for the paper to adhere to. Second, he applied good quality penetrating sealer. This sealer might have been Gardz, a product that I use now, or another similar sealer, perhaps even a solvent-based (as opposed to water-based) sealer. His sealer provided a hard surface for the new paper to stick to, and also gave a surface that was resistant to all the water I was using to strip off the old wallpaper.

Check out the fourth picture to see the huge pile of wallpaper I pulled off this one small hall bathroom.

Once all the paper was off, the walls were in very good condition. There were no delaminated areas, no lifted areas, nothing that needed patching – just an amazingly intact surface.

I did a few little touch-ups to a few little areas (I wanted to clean up 60 years of grime collected along the top of the tile), and then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, by Roman’s, their Pro 977 / Ultra Prime. It’s a white pigmented primer, and is a wonderful surface to hang wallpaper on.

Can’t Sell the House With Outdated Wallpaper

June 23, 2017

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The homeowners have put this Bellaire (Houston) house on the market, but it has not been attracting much attention, and the realtor says it’s partially due to the outdated wallpaper. My camera ate pics of three of the rooms, so you have only this mossy green stripe combined with a coordinating faux finish accent wall – topped with a topiary themed border. Gee – NO ONE is doing borders these days. The paper has to go!

So, today I am stripping off paper that I hung in 2001. I am proud to say that every wallpaper in every room I did 16 years ago is still in absolutely perfect condition, even in the humid bathrooms.

This job went especially well, since I used a good paste and because I had primed the wall with an excellent primer, oil-based KILZ Original. I was able to remove the paper in three bathrooms in just a few hours, with virtually no damage to the walls, because the KILZ protected them.  Because KILZ Original is oil-based, it will not re-wet when wallpaper paste is put on top of it, or when water is used to remove old wallpaper.

NOTE: The formula for KILZ has changed in recent years, due to environmental regulations. Wallpaper paste won’t adhere to it, so it is no longer a good primer for wallpaper projects.

In the second photo, I am stripping off top vinyl layer of the green striped wallpaper. The tan colored paper backing is left on the wall. In the third photo, you see the tan backing. I have soaked some of it, and the wet areas are a darker tan color. Once it gets good and wet, the paste reactivates, and the paper can be gently scraped from the wall, or, if you’re really lucky, gently pulled from the wall in large pieces. In the third photo, the white area in the center is where the paper backing has been removed, revealing the KILZ primer underneath. It was fun to also find my measurements and notes written on the wall back in 2001.

See the next post for a pic of the room with the paper off.  The realtor walked in and was very happy.  Next the painter will prime with a stain-blocking primer (like oil-based KILZ Original or Zinsser’s BIN) to prevent residual wallpaper paste from causing the new paint to crackle and flake off, and then paint the walls.

Changing What I Did

February 17, 2015

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I hung this reddish faux finish wallpaper pattern a few years ago on the bottom of the walls in an entry in a 2-plex in the Rice University area of Houston. Some workmen bopped the walls and caused damage to the wallpaper (Photo 1). I told the homeowner that I thought I could touch up the dings with paint, but she opted to have the whole room redone.

In Photos 2 & 3, I have started stripping off the original wallpaper. (See step-by-step instructions on a “How To” page on the right.) The top inked layer has been wet, and then pulled off, and you see a little of the white substrate still clinging to the wall. This layer gets soaked with a wet sponge, and it pulls off easily, with little damage to the walls. The main reason this went so well is because I prepped the walls with a good primer. When people hang wallpaper without a primer, removal can be much more difficult, time-consuming, and cause damage to the walls.

In the next shots, you see the new paper. This was hung below an oak wainscoting, and there was oak trim and oak flooring of the same color at the bottom of the wall.

At first, I was dubious about the blue color with the brown wood, but once all the walls were finished and I stood back and looked at it, it looked great!

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her