Removing wallpaper is rarely easy. If you get lucky, the wallpaper will come off in large sheets with very little effort and the wall behind it will still be in good shape. But most of the time, it’s attached so well that you can only strip off tiny pieces at a time.
Professional painters, like ours at Fresh Coat Painters of Westchester & Mason, know that there are different techniques to use according to the type of wallpaper being removed. Adhesives have also changed over the years. You have to know what type of wallpaper and adhesives you are working with to effectively remove it without damaging the drywall underneath. Sometimes, you can’t avoid damaging the walls, but it can be avoided in many cases.
First, let’s look at some of the hardest to remove, and then we’ll talk about the wallpaper removal techniques the pros use:
- Layers of old wallpaper
- Foil wallpaper
- Wallpaper over unsealed plaster
- Painted over wallpaper
- Water damaged wallpaper
- Glued down wallpaper (not self-adhesive types)
- Wallpaper with a layer of backing paper
- Non-strippable vinyl coated (washable)
- Wallpaper over unsealed drywall
You can find out if your wallpaper is strippable by testing it. Use a putty knife to lift a corner at the seam. If it comes away from the wall without much trouble, remove it further by pulling downward, parallel to the surface, rather than outward. If it is strippable wallpaper, removing it will be easy because it will pull away in large sheets.
Steaming the wallpaper may be the only way to remove it. The technique uses a steamer that is filled with plain water and then run along the wallpaper seam to loosen it. The steam softens the glue which helps the wallpaper to pull away or be scraped easier. If there are multiple layers of wallpaper, each layer will likely have to be steamed and removed. When the wallpaper is gone, the wall will need to be washed to get rid of the paste and remaining pieces. Either warm water and detergent or a wallpaper remover solution would be used, depending on what works.
Scoring & Soaking Wallpaper
Stubborn wallpaper won’t strip off in large sheets. It may have been painted or it may be water-resistant wallpaper. Instead, the entire wall of wallpaper has to be scraped off. First, the wallpaper is perforated so the soaking solution can penetrate to the back. Wallpaper removal solutions are designed to soften the adhesive if it is old or very strong. We use a scoring tool to perforate the wallpaper so the moisture penetrates to the back. Once the wallpaper is soaked, it can be further loosened with the steamer.
Oh No! It Won’t Come Off!
So you’re tired and the section of wall you are working on looks shredded. You’re so frustrated and ready to call for help but aren’t sure a wallpaper removal pro will be willing to step in. Rest assured that we are willing and ready to come to your rescue just as we’ve done for so many others. Just call a local pro and they’ll take care of the mess. Contact our interior and exterior painting experts today!