Hot Topics: Decorate With Stickers - Redecorate With a Scraper

Sticker residue on a wall.

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It’s a good thing to let your kids express their creativity and decorate their own rooms. But when that self-expression includes stickers, it’s going to be a challenge to update the room when tastes change as kids mature. Before you do any damage, check with the Forum to make sure your methods are sound.

Original Post: Stripping kids' paper stickers from drywall

Low Altitude Member

A few years ago, we allowed our kid to put stickers on his bedroom wall. He has now outgrown them and I would like to redecorate, but of course the stickers won't come off, at least not cleanly. They leave not just gum, but paper residue on top of the gum.

So how to get them off? A blade scraper won't work (it did the job very well on a wooden door, but it just sinks into drywall, leaving gouge marks). Soap and water doesn't work, ditto GooGone, because the paper residue prevents them soaking in properly.

I can't just paint primer over the top, because I'll end up with outlines of Spider-Man etc.

I'm thinking of trying to sand them off with a belt sander. I can just try that and see if it works -- but I'm posting here in case someone has used a method that's proven successful.

Thanks all

Highlights from the Thread

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Welcome to the forums!

Don't use a belt sander!! I normally just scrape them off and then fix any damage. On real stubborn ones you can press the drywall in slightly and then mud over them, effectively hiding the sticker. Is there any texture on the walls?

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

How were they applied? Peel and stick or wet with a sponge? If water was used, you can probably use an enzyme stripper like you would wallpaper.

Otherwise, I agree, strip them off as necessary using whatever works then repair the damage.

Low Altitude Member

Oh that's interesting, thanks very much -- looks like you've saved me the expense of the sander! Thank you.

Okay, I'll revert to the scraper -- I have the kind that's T-shaped with the blade in the cross-bar of the T and the stem of the T being the handle -- and then I'll fill in the damage with joint compound, then sand and paint.

There's no texture on the wall. It's smooth.

As a matter of interest, what's wrong with the sander approach?

Low Altitude Member

Peel-and-stick, unfortunately. They are extremely stubborn!

But I have just made an interesting discovery: at marksr's suggestion and yours, I've just had another go with the scraper, and this time all the stickers came off very easily. I now suspect that when I tried last time, I was holding the scraper the wrong way round (blush!). The head is very slightly angled, so one way round you get a significantly shallower / sharper angle of attack with the blade.

So with about five minutes' work, I've taken off all the stickers -- and there were a lot, probably an area of about 8 square feet, densely packed with the things.

So thank you very much. I'll get to work with the spackle now (there are a few dings, picture-hook holes etc.), and I'll sand and wash tomorrow morning.

I'm very grateful for the advice -- you saved me from making an expensive and time-consuming mistake!

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

Glad you solved it.

As to the sander approach (esp a belt sander!! Shudder...) it will chew right through the plaster/sheetrock in a second, then you'd have even bigger issues. Even a palm random orbital would give problems with the paper.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Glad you got them removed - removal is always best .... I just assumed removal would be a lot harder.

Belt sanders should only be used on tougher substrates like wood. Besides chewing up the drywall, you'd have dust everywhere.

Low Altitude Member

Thanks very much. It all helps, really.

mitch17 Group Moderator

If any of the drywall paper came off and left exposed gypsum, you should prime those areas with Zinnser Gardz before applying the joint compound.

Low Altitude Member

Will do. Appreciate the tip, thanks.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

You can also use a solvent based primer in place of Gardz, either will work [I generally use whichever one is handy] Gardz is the only water based primer recommended for priming bare gypsum. The primer will prevent the moisture in j/c and/or latex primer/paint from lifting the paper surrounding the exposed gypsum.

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