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My Blog

Removing Wallpaper

You have wallpaper, and you've decided to paint the walls.  What do you do?  A question we're often asked is if we cannot simply paint over the paper.  The answer is "no".
Well, you can, but remember paint is wet, and wallpaper is, well.. paper.  What happens when paper gets wet?  Exactly.
If you've decided the paper needs to come off and the walls need painting, you can leave it up to the painters to remove the paper, sure, and they would.  But, it is extremely tedious work and time consuming, therefore pricey.
You may elect to remove the paper yourself and save money, but just know you 're in for a bit of a fight.  If you stick with it, however, use the right materials, and have some extra help, it can be accomplished.  So here's what you need:
First, invest in a "paper tiger" - it is a little inexpensive gadget that will score the paper with fine cuts so that the removing liquid can penetrate the paper, and hopefully the glue layer, too.  So, start with scoring the paper all over.
Next you will need DIF, a product designed for paper removal and available at most hardware stores.  They come in different colors - get the blue one.
While you're at the store, get a scraper, preferably a wallpaper scraper.  Ask someone in the store to suggest one, if you're not sure, but they're usually marked as wallpaper scrapers.
Now, cover your carpets, and change clothes, this is going to be wet and messy.
Since you have scored the walls, mix up the following liquid: (you can use DIF on its own, but I find the following recipe works better)  Empty the DIF in a bucket and add a few capfulls of Downey Fabric softener.  (The Downey makes the water wetter, if that makes sense at all.  The wetter, the quicker the paper will come off!)  I also add a few table spoons of baking soda to the mix. 
Use a sponge, dipping in the liquid and applying liberally to the walls, really slop it on.  Wait about 10-15 minutes and try lifting the paper off in corners and at seams.  Have a bucket of hot water ready and keep wetting as you keep lifting and pulling.
Scraping off paper as you go.
Repeat the process untill all the paper is off.  Now you need to go around the walls again, making sure all glue has been removed.  Sometimes you cannot spot the glue until it dries, and it will look like yellowish patches. 
When you think all the glue has been removed, go over the walls again with warm water to which you've added a little vinegar. 
Let dry, and now the walls are ready to be primed and painted.
NOTE:  It is quite common in the removal of wallpaper to accidently gouge the walls with your scraper.  Try not to.  However, if it happens, make sure your painter skim coats the walls with drywall mud and smooth out the gouges before priming and painting.
MORE NOTE: If you are removing wallpaper and discover it has been applied over plain drywall that has not been primed or painted, call a professional.  It will cost you a whole lot more in repairs if you damage a wall like that.
I hope this has been helful!
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