Posts Tagged ‘stripping’

Me In Action

October 22, 2017


A client just sent me this photos from 2014, of me stripping outdated “ribbon” pattern wallpaper, and replacing it with a calm, finely textured grasscloth.

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Stripping Wallpaper

September 14, 2017

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This is a good example of how wallpaper should come off the wall, when it’s been hung properly.  The original installer primed the walls before hanging his paper, which is a very good thing.  A primer protects the walls, facilitates installation, and makes it easier to remove the paper later, with minimal damage to the wall.

The brown is the original wallpaper.  It is a thin layer of inked paper on what we call a pulp substrate (backing).  On the right side of the photo, I have peeled away this layer.  Left behind is a light tan layer of the pulp backing layer.

The darker tan areas are the pulp backing that I have soaked with water.  Once the water has enough time to penetrate the paper, it will reactivate the paste behind it.  Once that adhesive gets soft, you can either scrape off the paper with a stiff putty knife (see photo), or, if you are lucky, the paper will simply peel away from the wall in large pieces.  That’s what you’re seeing in the upper left of the photo.

It took several hours to strip these 12 single rolls of paper off the walls of this powder room – which is reasonable and expected.  Because the original installer took the extra time and expense to coat the walls with a good primer, there was NO damage to the underlying surface.

So the walls are in excellent shape and ready for new wallpaper tomorrow.

Prepping for a Repair Job Today

May 10, 2017

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This 1930 home just south of Houston’s Medical Center was being rewired, and the electricians drilled pilot holes into the wall in the room behind this room – and straight through the wall into this bathroom. Two smallish holes, but they totally ruined the wallpaper in this area. Top photo.

Luckily, this strip was next to a corner, so only this one strip had to be replaced. Which is a lot less complicated than dealing with multiple strips.

Also lucky is that the homeowners had saved the left over paper from when I hung it several years ago.

When I started stripping the wallpaper from the wall, it took chunks of the primer along with it. This surprised me, because that type of paper usually strips off relatively easily, and the primer I used usually holds nice and tight to the wall I think this is due to whatever paint or other treatment the contractors put on the wall before I got there. At any rate, the wall was left with jagged and uneven areas. Second photo.

Because the paper was heavily textured, it would probably have been possible to seal the damaged wall and hang the replacement paper over it with none of the uneven areas telegraphing through.

But I just couldn’t let myself do that.  I wanted the surface to be smooth and sound.  So I did a very light skim-float over the wall to smooth it. This added a lot more time, because I had to wait for the compound to dry, and then for the penetrating sealer / primer (Gardz) I applied to dry, also. But I felt better about the surface once these steps were done.

The last photo shows the finished wall – along with a few of my measurements and figures. Note that they are carefully written in pencil, because it’s about the only writing material that will not bleed through wallpaper.

Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of the finished wall. But it turned out great.

This wallpaper is a textured vinyl product that is a wonderful alternative to real grasscloth, because it has none of the shading, paneling, color variations or staining problems of the real stuff.  This product is by Warner, but it is the exact same product as one I have done many times, called Bankin Raffia, by Thibaut.  This one did appear to have a slightly different backing than the Thibaut product, however.  I prefer the Thibaut.  You can Search here to see other jobs I have done with this very fine product.

Stripping Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 17, 2017

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This powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with a deep red, nubby-textured grasscloth wallpaper. It didn’t suit the taste of the new homeowners, so they had me strip it off and replace it with something lighter.

Often, grasscloth can be really hard to get off, because the grass fibers and the netting used to sew them to the backing separate from the backing and come off in tiny handfuls of fiberous messiness.

I was luckier today, because the top layer with the grass fibers and red ink came off the wall fairly easily, and in almost-intact 9′ strips. The paper backing was left on the wall (see 2nd photo). In some areas (see 3rd photo), bits of the red inked layer remained.

The next step was to remove the paper backing. All that’s needed is to use a sponge to soak the backing with warm water. Soak one section, move on and soak the next, then go back and resoak the first section, etc.

Water has a harder time penetrating the patches where the red inked layer was not removed. Soak it a little more, or use a putty knife to get under that layer and pull off the inked material.

Eventually, the moisture from the warm water will reactivate the paste. If you are lucky, you will be able to simply pull the paper backing away from the wall. But if not, all it takes is a little elbow grease and a stiff 3″ putty knife, to gently scrape the paper from the wall.

I was doubly lucky today, because whoever hung the original grasscloth did a good job, including the use of a good primer to seal the walls before he hung any wallpaper. His primer protected the walls, and all my water and tension as I soaked and pulled paper off the walls caused no damage to the subsurface.

All I had to do to prepare the walls for new wallpaper was to wash off old paste residue, and apply a primer, in this case Gardz by Zinsser.

Wet Stripping and Dry Stripping Old Wallpaper

February 19, 2017
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I hung these papers 15-20 years ago. Still in perfect shape, too, I might add. 🙂

The homeowners are moving, and are trying to make the house as neutral as possible before it goes on the market. So the child-friendly lime green wallpaper had to go.

In the top photo, I am stripping a paper-backed solid vinyl paper. It is considered a peelable paper. These are pretty easy to get off, if you are patient. You peel off the top plastic printed layer, which usually comes off in large pieces. That leaves the tan paper backing stuck to the wall, which you can see as a “V” in the upper center of the photo. To the left of that area, I have wet the paper with a sponge and hot water, so it has turned darker tan. Once the water reactivates the adhesive, this backing will peel away from the wall easily; or it may need to be gently scraped off with a stiff 3″ putty knife. This process is pretty easy on the wall, and leaves little damage.

The second photo shows a thin paper wallpaper coming off by simply pulling on it. This is what is called a strippable paper. Interestingly enough, this paper was most strippable up high, where humidity from showering would have collected. Even strippable papers don’t always come off in one piece, and when they do, the process can put too much stress on the wall, so you might get pieces of the primer or underlying surfaces pulling off, too. To minimize damage to the wall, these papers can also be removed in the 2-step process outlined above. Since they are thinner, it’s a little harder to get the top inked layer off. But if you wet the surface first, which seems to make it stronger so it comes off in larger pieces, and then use that stiff 3″ putty knife to gently get under the top layer, and proceed as above.

Of course, what is under the paper has to do with it, too. In this case, my wonderful primer oil-based KILZ Original has provided a strong and water-resistant surface that sticks tightly to the underlying wall, and that let go of the wallpaper with no damage to the walls.

Stripping Wallpaper

December 26, 2016

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Today I repapered a powder room that I have done at least twice before, over 20 years or so. The existing paper stripped off easily, in part because it was a pre-pasted paper-backed solid-vinyl paper, and also because of the primer I used to seal the walls – oil-based KILZ Original. The primer protected the walls and kept them intact, and there was no damage to the walls whatsoever.

The photo shows all steps of removing this kind of wallpaper. The printed top vinyl / plastic layer is pulled off. With this kind of paper, the top layer usually separates and pulls off easily and in large pieces. This leaves a paper backing still stuck to the wall. This is the light tan area you see in the photo. I use a wet sponge to soak this layer. When it gets good and wet, it turns dark tan, as seen in the photo.

The next step is to remove this backing. Once it’s good and wet, the paste holding it to the wall will reactivate, and the wallpaper will peel away from the wall easily and in large pieces. Sometimes it might be necessary to scrape the paper off the wall, which can be done with a not-too-sharp 3″ stiff putty knife, taking care not to gouge into the wall surface.

Stripping Wallpaper Today

October 28, 2016

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This poor homeowner has been waiting TWO YEARS to get her powder room redone. Every couple of months, some facet of the project gets completed. About two years ago, someone ripped off the red vinyl layer of the existing wallpaper – so they have been living with gritty tan manila paper walls since then. Most recently, the pretty new countertop you see went in. The faucet still needs to be installed. But the room is ready for wallpaper, so here I am …

The red vinyl layer has already been stripped from the wall, so what you are looking at is its tan paper backing that has remained on the wall. This usually comes off pretty easily (depending on the underlying surface) simply by soaking with plain water. The dark tan areas are where I have wet the paper, using the sponge and bucket of warm water in the foreground.

Once that tan paper backing came off, lo and behold – the previous installer hung his red wallpaper over the original floral wallpaper. It’s usually best to remove wallpaper, and not hang over it, but sometimes there are reasons why you can’t, and it looks like this guy did a good job of prepping the surface to accept new wallpaper. The cloudy white you see is his primer, which is a good thing.

I didn’t try to remove that original floral layer, either, knowing that it might well open a whole can of worms that would require a lot of work to repair. It was all adhering tightly to the wall, so I skim-floated over it, sanded smooth, and primed it with the penetrating sealer Gardz, by Zinsser.

By tomorrow, everything will be nice and smooth and sealed, and ready for the new wallpaper. Keep posted!

A Whole Dining Room’s Trash In One Neat Roll

June 18, 2016

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I like to make a game of seeing how long I can go without using a trash bag. Well, it’s been weeks, maybe months.

Today I was stripping off a paper-backed solid-vinyl wallpaper. The top vinyl (plastic) layer of this type of paper usually pull off in large pieces, even full-length strips. That’s what happened today. So I laid those out on the floor.

As I soaked the paper backing, it also let loose from the wall and came away in large, intact strips. I layered those on top of the vinyl sheets already on the floor.

Once all the paper was off the wall and stacked on the floor, all I had to do was to roll it all up into one neat package.

It’s amazing how large the dining room is, yet how small is this roll of recovered wallpaper.

Off to the trash bin you go. No trash bag required!

(Note: This wallpaper was made of vinyl and is not recyclable … when I have scraps of paper wallpaper, it goes into the recycling bin.)

Stripping Wallpaper – Unprimed Drywall: The Underlying Surface Makes A Difference

January 23, 2016

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When stripping off old wallpaper, you never know what you will be getting into. Some people say, “It all came off so easily!” And others will spend days on one room, damage their Sheetrock, and endanger their marriage. 🙂

Several factors come into play, some being: the surface below the wallpaper, the type of wallpaper, the technique used by the person attempting to remove the wallpaper – and his patience level. 🙂

And it’s helpful to understand the process of how homes are put together.

Shot in a corner, under a window, and above a toilet with the cover removed, this photo illustrates the first factor. First of all, the previous installer did not prime the Sheetrock before hanging the paper, and that is a big no-no. A primer will make installation of the new wallpaper easier, help it cling to the wall better, and will protect the wall from damage when the paper is removed later.

But you are not just looking at unprimed drywall.

Above the toilet tank, the grey area is drywall. There are some darker grey areas where the drywall has absorbed water used in the removal process. Wallpaper will stick to bare drywall like its life was staked on it, and, depending on the type of wallpaper and the paste used, can be the Devil to get off. If you are lucky, the wallpaper will release from the drywall easily. But more likely, the wallpaper will stick tight, and will take careful persuasion from a stiff putty knife to scrape it off the wall. It’s very easy and common during this process to tear the top layer of the drywall, and that is very bad, because the inner layer will bubble when new wallpaper or latex paint is put on top of it, and you will also see a visible dent or bump or ridges under the new surface.

To the left of the toilet, in the corner, the white area is joint compound (“mud”). Joint compound is a smoothing agent (like plaster) and has many uses, the main one being to smooth over seams in sheets of drywall. But it is also used to cover nails or screws, patch holes, or to smooth out uneven or textured areas. When it has not been sealed or primed, it is dry and porous and thirsty, and will suck the paste right off the wallpaper. Meaning, that wallpaper will “kind of” adhere to this surface, but will release very easily. Sometimes, all it takes is a little water to reactivate the paste and then the wallpaper will come off easily and cleanly. Other times, the wallpaper will never really stick well at all, and will kind of hover over the mudded areas, and can sometimes even cause a bubble in the wallpaper.

At the top of the photo, under the window molding, you are looking at another white area. This is paint – overspray from when the painters sprayed enamel onto the woodwork. The good thing about paint is that it protects the drywall and will prevent tears when removing the wallpaper. Also, the wallpaper sticks to paint much better than it sticks to joint compound, but not as aggressively as it sticks to bare drywall. So, usually, all you need to do to remove the old wallpaper is soak the backing sufficiently and then use a stiff putty knife to scrape the backing away from the paint. If you are careful, there will be no damage to the drywall. The bad thing about enamel or any gloss-finish paint, is that, contrary to what I just said, wallpaper will not stick to it, because it is glossy and slick – kind of like Colorforms, so it will “kind of” stick, but when stressed by torque or humidity or other factors, can curl at the seams, or even give way entirely.

Bottom line: When hanging wallpaper, always use the proper primer. It will save you a lot of grief down the road.

Stripping Wallpaper

January 22, 2016

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Here is a shot that shows all of the stages of stripping wallpaper.

First you see the striped wallpaper. This particular one is a paper-backed solid vinyl, which I find easier to remove than many others, or at least, ut causes less damage to the wall (usually).

The first step is to peel off this top layer. I use a stiff 3″ putty knife to get under the vinyl (without digging into the paper backing), and then pull off the vinyl. Usually, it will come off in large strips. But sometimes it breaks apart into little pieces, which take much longer to get off. In the photo, you can see both a large(ish) piece coming away from the wall, and jagged areas where I have been fighting spots that want to come off in tiny pieces.

Wallpapers made of different materials might peel off differently, but the concept and process are the same.

Once that top layer is off, you will be looking at the paper backing. In this photo, the backing is a light tan color.

The backing is then soaked with warm water and a sponge. Some people use chemicals or additives or even a steamer, but all I use is clean, hot water. The idea is to reactivate the paste, so it will release from the wall. Once the backing is wet, you can see it turn color, to a dark tan. With other types of paper, the backing might be white, or even difficult to see.

Once the backing is good and wet, the paste will loosen and, if you are lucky, it will pull away from the wall easily, as in the photo. In other instances, you might need to use that stiff 3″ putty knife to scrape it off the wall – gently, to avoid gouging onto the wall.

It’s really important that you not force the paper off the wall, or tear the Sheetrock in the process.

The underlying surface will have a lot to do with your success, too. If the previous installer primed the walls properly, or even if the builder applied a coat of cheap paint, you will have better results than if the paperhanger put the wallpaper directly onto the drywall.

The wall can then be wiped gently with the damp sponge to remove any paste residue.

Realize that this procedure will take a long time. You cannot expect to strip a whole room of wallpaper after dinner. Rushing, and trying to “force” the paper off the wall, along with not understanding the process, are major reasons for damage to the wall. Oh, and patience. You must exercise patience.