Removing your old wallpaper is often a messy and time-consuming job. Removing the old stuff is usually smarter than leaving it on. A new covering will adhere better to a stripped-down surface.
It is possible to cover over the old paper, although it’s not necessarily a good idea, as the moisture in the adhesives can cause both the old and new wallpaper to peel away from your walls. If you decide to remove the old stuff, the work involved will be rewarded with clean walls ready to be covered with new paper or paint. There are several ways to go about it.
The first option is steaming. You can rent electrical steamers from many tool rental and wallpaper outlets. First you will need to prepare the room by removing anything on the walls as well as furniture near the walls. Cover the furniture and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheeting. You will also need to cover the outlets, molding and trim with masking tape. Score the wallpaper with a scoring tool or single-edged razor blade. These holes will allow steam to get under the covering and loosen the adhesive.
Next, once the water in your steamer is hot, hold the plate against the wallpaper to loosen it. Work from the top down beginning with a single strip. Finally, move across and up until you have completed steaming the entire wall. Pull off as much wallpaper as possible. If that doesn’t work, scrape away the rest with a wall scraper. It is possible that you may have to steam the same area more than once to loosen older adhesive behind the covering.
Another method is to soak the wallpaper with hot water. As with steaming you will want to score the paper with a scoring tool or a razor blade. Apply the hot water with a sponge or water bottle to a section of the wall. Let the water soak into the paper for a few minutes to loosen the adhesive holding it to the wall. Begin to scrape off the wet wallpaper with a scraper. Continue to scrape as long as the covering continues to come off. If any of the paper breaks, simply re-soak the area and begin scraping at another scored point.
Lastly, you can use a chemical agent to remove the paper. You will need to purchase a commercial wallpaper stripping product. Again, you will need to score the area. Pour the stripping product into a paint tray and apply to the wall with a paint roller. Allow the chemical agent to penetrate the paper. It should take about 30 minutes for the covering to begin to blister. It is now ready for removal. Scrape of the paper with a scraper making sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
Anthony Matthews enjoys do-it-yourself projects, home repair, safety and conservation work.
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