Kitchen and Bath Remodeling: Wall Paper Removal Guide

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When remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, removing wall paper can be tricky. If you don't mind the mess typically created by removing wallpaper, there are several methods of removal.

Steaming the Wallpaper

Rent a wallpaper steamer that sends steam through a hose to a flat metal plate. Pressing this plate on the wall forces steam into the wallpaper, softening the paper and paste and allowing you to strip the paper using a wide putty knife.

Unfortunately, steaming can damage the wall-boards to which the wallpaper adheres, especially if the wallboard wasn't properly sealed prior to wallpapering. If the wallboard has been coated with sizing, this sizing usually seals enough to allow the wallpaper to stick, but offers little protection.

Chemical Solutions

This method uses a chemical enzyme agent that soaks into the paper and dissolves the paste. Although this method takes a little longer than the steamer, it is less damaging to wallboard.

You must allow time for the chemical to do its work. If you begin scraping too soon, it will not be as effective. The paper should be kept wet with the chemical until the paper is loose enough to scrape.

The chemical stripper is applied with a sprayer. To avoid getting the chemical on the floor, cover the floor with plastic tarps and newspaper to absorb the excess spray. As waste accumulates on the newspapers, replace them with new ones.

Vinyl Wallpaper

If the original wallpaper is non-porous vinyl, neither the steam nor the chemical stripper will easily penetrate it. In that case, you may have to rip the vinyl face from the wall before using steam or the chemical remover.

If you find that the vinyl wall covering is difficult to remove, you can make small perforations in it to allow the steam or chemical to pass through the perforations. Use a Paper Tiger. to make pinhole perforations in the paper, leaving the wall underneath undamaged.

Remove the Residue

After the paper is removed, remove the residue paste that is left. Use hot water and a wall washing detergent, then apply wallpaper stripping chemical as a final wash. If there is an excessive amount of paste left on the wall, you may need to respray the walls with the chemical stripper. Then use a scraper or putty knife to remove the residual glue, followed by a final rinse with a sponge dipped in the stripper.

If you are going to wallpaper again, your job is almost done. Just give the walls a light sanding to smooth any roughness. Clean the dust before beginning the wallpapering process.

If you are going to paint, first apply a coat of a sealing/stain killing oil-based primer. It may leave more roughness that will require more sanding. Failing to sand and apply a latex primer will make it difficult to remove the roughness later. Once the primer is dry, sand again and clean the dust. Then begin painting.